Religion Today Summaries, November 27, 2002

Religion Today Summaries, November 27, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving from!

In Today's Edition:

  • Ministry Founded by Kenneth Haggin Expels Pastor for being active in Pro-Life Movement
  • Lawmakers Ask Court to Dismiss Suit Against Chaplains
  • Chicago Murder Raises Hate Crime Questions
  • 16th Party Congress in China is Latest Excuse for Continued Persecution of Christians

Ministry Founded by Kenneth Haggin Expels Pastor for being active in Pro-Life Movement

(Charisma News) A Wichita, Kan., pastor has been expelled from a worldwide charismatic ministry renowned for its message of faith and biblical prosperity because he was active in the pro-life movement.  Mark Holick had his ordination revoked this summer by the Tulsa, Okla.-based Rhema Ministerial Association International (RMAI).  "They [RMAI leaders] informed me that my wife, any of our church leaders, and myself could not for any reason go to any abortion clinic ever, not even to pray," said Holick, 41.  Rhema's Tulsa-based attorney, Tom Winters, told Charisma News Service that "Rhema is not for abortion." Winters said he advised RMAI leaders to revoke Holick's license because his pro-life activism could cause Rhema to be "potentially sued”.  “Based on my advice, they took a safe and reasonable approach to deal with this," Winters said. "I advised them that the best way to handle this situation was to sever the relationship."  RMAI evolved from the Rhema Bible Training Center, which was started by Kenneth Hagin Sr., and his son, Ken Jr., in 1974 in response to a demand for more teaching material from the Hagins' ministry.

Lawmakers Ask Court to Dismiss Suit Against Chaplains
Lawrence Morahan
( - The American Center for Law and Justice has filed a brief on behalf of 22 Members of Congress to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of congressional chaplains.  “Paid congressional chaplains have been around since the inception of Congress in the 18th Century, and their role does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which forbids the government from endorsing an official religion”, the lawmakers said.  The brief challenges a claim by Michael Newdow, a California atheist who first achieved notoriety when he sued to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.  James Henderson, a senior counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice, slammed Newdow's latest suit as ‘meritless’.  "I would refer to it as an intellectual exercise if there was any evidence of intellect in it," Henderson said.  "[The Founders] never intended to exclude a practice of chaplaincy as though it were at risk of causing establishment of religion," Henderson said.  Thomas Jefferson not only attended occasional prayer, he also attended church services in the Capitol building, which were held by permission of Congress during the early years of the republic, Henderson said.

Chicago Murder Raises Hate Crime Questions
Scott Hogenson
( Prosecutors in Chicago say there's no evidence at this time to charge a homosexual teenager with a hate crime in the stabbing and strangulation death of a woman with whom police say he argued over his lifestyle.  Authorities said 19-year-old Nicholas Gutierrez is facing charges of first degree murder, burglary and concealing a murder in the Nov. 13 death of 51-year-old Mary Stachowicz who friends and associates described as a devout and outspoken Catholic.  The nature of the crime has led some to ask whether there's a double standard in how hate crime statutes are applied, as well as how the news media report such events.  "If a gay man had been murdered for trying to convince someone to be gay, it would be a national news story and be deemed a hate crime," said Peter LaBarbera, a policy analyst with Concerned Women for America.

16th Party Congress in China is Latest Excuse for Continued Persecution of Christians

(Charisma News) A leading member of an underground church and his wife were detained as part of a crackdown on dissidents before the start of the Communist Party Congress, according to a human rights group. The New York-based Human Rights in China (HRC) said police recently took Hua Huiqi and Ju Mei from their Beijing home and took them to the northern province of Shanxi, the Associated Press (AP) reported.  Hua is one of the earliest and most important members of Beijing's underground church, and has been beaten and arrested on many occasions because of his religious activities. Police did not present a warrant, nor did they give a reason for taking the couple, the AP reported.  "Once again under the pretext of conducting the 16th Party Congress in a peaceful and stable atmosphere the Chinese government is abusing human rights," HRC president Liu Qing said.  In the weeks leading up to the party congress, the government banned books, blocked Internet sites and clamped down on other activists. China allows only government-monitored churches, and has harassed and imprisoned Christians who worship outside the official system.