Religion Today Summaries - October 21, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 21, 2004

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:

  • Falwell Questions Grounds for Evangelical Support of 'Pro-Choice' Candidate - Part II

  • Pentecostal Denominations' Partnership Will Have 'Worldwide Impact'

  • New Jersey School District Ordered To Stop Discriminating Against Christian Organization

  • Chad: Native Missionaries Yearn to Help Refugees from Sudan

Falwell Questions Grounds for Evangelical Support of 'Pro-Choice' Candidate - Part II
Allie Martin and Jody Brown, AgapePress

Evidently, Dr. Falwell is not the only religious figure who is taking issue with Kerry on the issue of abortion and faith.  A Los Angeles-based Canon Law expert announced on Friday he has received a boost from the Vatican in his case for heresy against the Democratic candidate because of his support of the right to abortion. Marc Balestrieri, who filed the formal case against Kerry in July, says he has received a written response prompted by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, affirming that Catholic politicians who persist in supporting the right to abortion are "automatically excommunicated." According to Balestrieri, the response says "if a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Can. 751 of the Code.  Provided that the presumptions of knowledge of the law and penalty (Can. 15, § 2) and imputability (Can. 1321, § 3) are not rebutted in the external forum, one is automatically excommunicated according to Can. 1364, § 1." Balestrieri calls the response "significant" because it "represents the first time in modern history since Roe v. Wade in 1973 that such a clear reply is given to the Catholic faithful."

Pentecostal Denominations' Partnership Will Have 'Worldwide Impact'
Charisma News Service

Two of the nation's largest Pentecostal denominations have joined forces through an inner-city college campus. In August, the Assemblies of God (AG) and the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) entered into a corporate partnership to operate the School of Urban Missions (SUM), an urban Bible college that combines theological education and practical hands-on training in Oakland, Calif., and New Orleans, AG News reported. It marks the first time that the two Pentecostal fellowships have embarked on such a joint project. Previously, the AG had sole possession of both campuses, but collaboration with a like-minded Pentecostal group is designed to produce a more effective ministry. A predominately black fellowship, Memphis-based COGIC is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the country. The Springfield, Mo.-based AG is the largest white Pentecostal denomination in the nation. SUM has more than 130 students for the fall term, around two-thirds of whom are African-American. "Those who see the unifying move of God will rejoice in the coming together of the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ to accomplish God's purpose of preparing men and women for relevant and effective ministry," said W.W. Hamilton, secretary to the COGIC general board. George Neau, who is SUM's chancellor, believes that the partnership marks the first step toward the two denominations overcoming the past, and learning to appreciate each other's cultural uniqueness. (

New Jersey School District Ordered To Stop Discriminating Against Christian Organization

A New Jersey school district has been ordered to stop discriminating against Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), a Christian organization that runs "Good News Club" Bible study and activity groups for children. Although the Stafford Township School District routinely distributed flyers for other community groups, district officials had refused to distribute flyers publicizing Good News Club meetings because of their religious content. In 2002, the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom filed suit against the district on CEF's behalf, seeking equal treatment. The federal district court ruled in CEF's favor, and the school officials appealed to the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court also decided in the Christian group's favor, ruling that the New Jersey school district may not refuse to distribute CEF's flyers and must treat the Christian group equally with other community groups. Rejecting the argument that the flyers were disallowed because of "proselytizing," the federal appellate court noted that proselytizing means recruiting members, and the Stafford Township School District does not discriminate against numerous other community groups that engage in recruiting efforts. "The appeals court reaffirmed what the school district should have known," remarked Center attorney Gregory Baylor; that "the Constitution does not require government schools to discriminate against religion," and in fact "forbids discrimination against religion."

Chad: Native Missionaries Yearn to Help Refugees from Sudan
Christian Aid

In what the UN has called "today's worst humanitarian disaster," 50,000 Sudanese tribal people have been killed and over one million rendered homeless by Arab militias in Sudan's western Darfur region. About 200,000 displaced persons, mostly women and children, have escaped to neighboring Chad, where they live in crowded refugee camps with inadequate food, water and medicine. Native missionaries supported by Christian Aid in Chad are burdened to bring physical as well as spiritual aid to these suffering people, yet they currently lack sufficient resources. What has become known as the "Darfur crisis" began in February 2003, when black African tribes in this western region rose up against the central government, protesting their exclusion from natural resources and demanding fairer treatment. In response, the Sudanese government armed Arab militias, called Janjaweed, and ordered them to put down the rebellion. These Arab militias are carrying out their task ruthlessly, attacking tribal villages and murdering innocent civilians by the hundreds. No end is in sight for the genocide. A cease fire signed in April has been ignored by all parties involved. Native missionaries in Chad, moved by the love of Christ, want to relieve their suffering. They also hope to bring the truth of the gospel to refugees, many of whom are animists.