Religion Today Summaries - September 2, 2011

Religion Today Summaries - September 2, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • No Clergy at 9/11 Ceremony Called 'Bigotry'
  • Christians in China Suffer for Supporting Shouwang Church
  • Florida Pastor Draws Fire for Suggesting 'National Registry' of Atheists
  • Texas Sonogram Law Blocked by U.S. Judge


No Clergy at 9/11 Ceremony Called 'Bigotry'

According to Baptist Press, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision not to include clergy in the 10th anniversary remembrance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has drawn objections from Christian leaders. "This is a shameful example of anti-religious bigotry," Southern Baptist church-state specialist Richard Land said. "This once again betrays the secular bias against religion in certain liberal elements of our society whose epicenter is New York City." Fernando Cabrera, a pastor and New York City council member, said he was "utterly disappointed" and "shocked.". Cabrera was told by the mayor's office there would be no prayers offered at the ceremony, and that previous previous observances of the 9/11 attacks also have not included clergy. The exclusion of religious leaders from participation in the ceremony contrasts sharply with the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Land and Cabrera said. "On that day, political correctness didn't matter," said Land.  First-responders -- police, firemen and emergency personnel -- also are not invited to participate in the ceremony unless they are family members of victims.

Christians in China Suffer for Supporting Shouwang Church

Christians from various house churches are paying a price for supporting Beijing’s unregistered Shouwang church, Compass Direct News reports. When five members of a house church in Fangshan tried to worship publicly with the Shouwang church Sunday August 28, police sent them back to their local police station two hours away. Officials then urged them to sign documents repenting of their decision to support the Shouwang church, which they refused to do. Among worshippers police detained at Shouwang’s public worship on Aug. 14 was pastor Wang Shuanyan of Beijing’s Xinshu house church, one of 17 house church pastors who submitted a petition to the National People’s Congress calling for a complete overhaul of China’s religious policy.

Florida Pastor Draws Fire for Suggesting 'National Registry' of Atheists

Pastor Michael Stahl, a self-described “irrational atheist” for 42 years of his life, posted an article on his blog a year ago in which he stated that he was considering starting a grassroots effort to create “The Christian National Registry of Atheists,” The Christian Post reports. Now, the backlash to his statements has begun. One of Stahl's blog entries that is stirring up controversy states, “Brothers and Sisters , I have been seriously considering forming a ( Christian ) grassroots type of organization to be named 'The Christian National Registry of Atheists' or something similar... There are already National Registrys for convicted sex offenders, ex-convicts, terrorist cells, hate groups like the KKK, skinheads, radical Islamists, etc.” He goes on to say that the registry would inform believers who they should witness to and whose businesses to avoid. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, commented, “This is another perfect example of a preacher using religion to try to get money and attention by spreading hate in the name of religion,” he wrote. Todd Pitner of the Christian website, also responded with disapproval. “Don't shoot at atheists, the predestined ones are on our side!” he wrote.

Texas Sonogram Law Blocked by U.S. Judge

A federal district judge has blocked enforcement of a Texas law passed in May requiring women seeking abortions to undergo a sonogram at least 24 hours prior to the procedure and to hear the baby's heartbeat and a description from the abortion provider of the baby's physical features. Baptist Press reports that U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin, in an Aug. 30 injunction, said the law, which was to go into effect Sept. 1, "compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen." Elaborating on his ruling, Sparks wrote that the law's requirements expand beyond medically necessary information and "are unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment right to be free from compelled speech." Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a notice of appeal in the case shortly after the decision was announced. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who signed the bill into law on May 19, lamented the ruling. "Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy and today's ruling is a great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life," Perry said in a statement.