Religion Today Summaries, April 2, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, April 2, 2004

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

  • Interim Constitution Provides Unexpected Measure of Hope
  • 'Pro-Choice' Clergywoman Claims God Often Wills Abortion
  • Pastor Wants to 'Spiritually Help' Teens Held in Cross Burning
  • Canadian Christians Fear Preaching Beliefs Will Soon Be Crime

Interim Constitution Provides Unexpected Measure of Hope
Barnabas News Fund

Iraq’s interim constitution, signed on 8 March, contains several paragraphs that specifically address religious rights and freedoms. The constitution, known as the Transitional Administrative Law (T.A.L.), states ‘Each Iraqi has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religious belief and practice. Coercion in such matters shall be prohibited.’ This is good news for Christians and other religious minorities. They are also relieved that the T.A.L. states that Islam is to be considered ‘a source of legislation’ rather than ‘the source of legislation.’ However, these encouragements are tempered by another statement which runs: ‘No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam . . . may be enacted’. This could be used to argue against the freedoms which have apparently been granted to non-Muslims. For example, all schools of Islamic law agree that an adult male Muslim who converts to another faith should be killed. The Transitional Administrative Law will probably be in force until some time in 2005, when it will be replaced by a permanent constitution, expected to be very like the T.A.L.

'Pro-Choice' Clergywoman Claims God Often Wills Abortion
Bill Fancher, AgapePress

Many conservatives may be surprised to learn that, in the battle over abortion, the vast majority of religious denominations and their clergy support the pro-abortion side. At many of the pro-homosexual rights and pro-abortion rights rallies that take place across the United States, a large contingent of clergy who support these rights can often be found. Conservative Christians often find it difficult to understand how members of the Church and especially the clergy can support ideas and lifestyles that are contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Nevertheless, these members are in the Church, and they have a rationale for their positions.  One such clergy member is Dr. Roselyn Smith-Withers, a Baptist minister. She believes that abortion is a decision that can be sanctioned by God. "I believe God speaks to women and enables them to make decisions for themselves," she says. The Baptist clergy member is a clergy counselor for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. "I believe that when we do not agree or understand the challenges that a woman is facing, we can be absolutely certain that God understands," Smith-Withers says. Smith-Withers recently told Congress that God can enable a woman to choose abortion as her best option, and it is part of her ministry to alert women to this.

Pastor Wants to 'Spiritually Help' Teens Held in Cross Burning
Charisma News Service

A Pentecostal pastor in Washington state says he hopes he can help the teens who admitted they burned a cross in his family's front yard recently. Jason Martin, who leads nondenominational Jesus Is Lord Life Tabernacle in Marysville, said he's not angry at the two 16-year-old boys who turned themselves in to police last Saturday. "If we want to be good Christians, if we want to be a good community, I say send your enemy flowers," Martin, 38, said. If they're willing to hear him out, Martin said he hopes to talk to the boys that he forgives them and offer them guidance. "I would like to help them spiritually, of course, to help them know that Jesus loves them that He died for their sins, and that no one has not committed a sin," Martin said. Martin woke up March 24 to find firefighters dousing a 3-foot-by-5-foot cross on the front lawn of his home in Arlington, located about 40 miles north of Seattle. He asked his 150-member congregation and scores of other people who packed into his church last Sunday to pray for the teens. A member of Martin's church said that “he's actually walking what he's preaching," he said. "He's not angry with these people. I think it's awesome that God is using this for good."

Canadian Christians Fear Preaching Beliefs Will Soon Be Crime
Agape Press

In Canada, there is growing concern that preaching against homosexuality may soon be considered a crime. Many Americans have been keeping a close eye on political developments in Canada over the last few years as homosexual rights are increasingly being written into law. Now the director of the International Bible Society (IBS) in Canada is predicting that the federal government could soon add homosexuals to the list of groups protected by laws against so-called "hate propaganda." Donald Brooker of IBS says the bill could permit Canadian officials to ban parts of the Bible as hate literature. If the bill becomes law, as expected, Canada's Supreme Court may have to decide if homosexual rights are more important than religious liberty. Brooker notes that Canadian judges have already ruled that the nation's constitution gives homosexual couples the right to marry.