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Religion Today Summaries, April 8, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, April 8, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians
In Today's Edition:

  • Atheist Group Wants Mother Teresa Off Bus Passes
  • Televangelist Decries Prosperity Message 'Deception'
  • Nigerian Elections May Bring Sharia Law
  • Lay Catholics Call for New Hampshire Bishops' Resignation

Atheist Group Wants Mother Teresa Off Bus Passes
Kevin Eckstrom

(RNS) The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked the city bus system in Madison, Wis., to stop using an image of Mother Teresa on bus passes. The group of atheists and agnostics said that members of the public complained after seeing an image of the well-known nun on bus tickets for the month of April. Anne Nicol Gaylor, president of the foundation, said Mother Teresa knew the depths of poverty caused by overpopulation yet "campaigned throughout her life against contraception, sterilization and abortion, promoting Roman Catholic dogma. Women who ride the publicly owned Madison Metro bus service should not have to spend a month looking at her," she said. "Religious figures do not belong on monthly passes of publicly owned transportation facilities." Julie Maryott-Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bus system, said there are no plans to remove the Mother Teresa bus passes. Other figures in the yearlong series include Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt and Henry Ford. Maryott-Walsh said the Calcutta nun was chosen for her service to the poor and as a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, not for her Catholic faith. "Some people may view her as a religious figure," she said. "We did not."

Televangelist Decries Prosperity Message 'Deception'
Andy Butcher

(Charisma News) TV evangelist James Robison has taken to task fellow preachers who promote what he says is an unbalanced prosperity message. The host of the daily broadcast "Life Today" says that such "manipulation" has pushed people into bankruptcy, and encourages a self-centered focus that can "short-circuit a supernatural response from God." Although the principle of sowing and reaping is an important aspect of giving, it has been distorted, he says. "One of the huge deceptions in some personal prosperity teaching is the notion that everybody is going to have a big house, big car or big income," he writes. "This concept promotes a 'sameness' mentality, and it is simply not scriptural ... If you're just looking for a return, you're a miner. God wants us to be farmers for kingdom purposes." He says that God does not want people to "play the money game." "This is not spiritual bingo or Bible lottery. Giving is the essence of life. If we release that which He has freely given us, He will increase it for His purpose -- not so we can build bigger barns but so we can live life abundantly." www.charismanews.com

Nigerian Elections May Bring Sharia Law

(VOM Canada) As presidential elections are set to begin in Nigeria on April 19, the possibility of Sharia law spreading to more states increases.  The front-runners in the election are Olusegun Obasanjo, the current president and a Christian from the south, and Muha-mmadu Buhari, a Muslim northerner. At present, twelve of Nigeria’s thirty-six states are governed by Islamic Sharia law.  According to a report from CNSNews, Josiah Warron, press attaché at the Nigerian Embassy in Kenya, expects this number to increase if Muha-mmadu Buhari wins the election. Since the election is taking place during the Easter Season, some Christian leaders are concerned that Christians may be less likely to vote.  www.persecution.net

Lay Catholics Call for New Hampshire Bishops' Resignation
Kevin Eckstrom

    (RNS) A Catholic lay reform group in New Hampshire has called for the resignation of the state's two Catholic bishops because of their mishandling of sexually abusive priests. The New Hampshire chapter of Voice of the Faithful on Sunday (April 6) called on Bishops John McCormack and Francis Christian to resign after a "pervasive pattern of behavior to conceal and cover up their evil actions.” “Both (bishops) observed a general disregard for the testimony of sexual abuse victims and an unwillingness to remove predatory priests from contact with children," said Jeffrey Blanchard, chairman of the group's steering committee. Voice of the Faithful is a national grass-roots movement founded a year ago as the sexual abuse crisis erupted in Boston. Its national leaders have been careful not to call for bishops' resignations out of fear that it could damage the group's fragile relationships with the hierarchy. The New Hampshire chapter of Voice of the Faithful says the state's 325,000 Catholics no longer have faith in their bishops and have asked the bishops not to preside at confirmations and other rites. The group's 600 members said the diocese is in a "state of spiritual distress" and suffers from a "crisis of religious and moral leadership."