Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 1, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 1, 2008

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

  • Churches and Security Measures
  • Rick Warren Says Pastors Shouldn't Endorse Politicians
  • Special Needs Sunday Schools on the Rise
  • Court Orders University to Recognize Christian Fraternity

Churches and Security Measures

According to, the recent shooting at a Tennessee Unitarian Universalist church has many churches asking what they can do to protect their congregations. Jeff Hawkins, a former Chicago police officer and current security chief for the Answers In Genesis Creation Museum, says unfortunately many Christian organizations have adopted the "it can't happen here" approach to security. "They really have to look at it very holistically and look at the overall scope of what can possibly happen inside their churches and then come up with plans, formulate plans and practice the things that they've put in place to deal with things when they happen," he explains. Ushers, for example, "really need to be trained to recognize the potential of something suspicious, or somebody's behavior that's just not acting right and contacting the police immediately, before something happens." Currently, most states that recognize citizens' Second Amendment right to carry firearms also prohibit them from exercising that right in churches, schools, and most other government buildings.

Rick Warren Says Pastors Shouldn't Endorse Politicians

The Christian Post reports that pastor Rick Warren said he does not believe pastors should endorse political candidates in an interview held weeks ahead of Saddleback Church's leadership and compassion forum. The August 16 forum features presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. “I don’t think it’s right for pastors to endorse [a political candidate] in the first place,” Warren told CNN when asked if he thinks McCain was right to disavow controversial pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley. “I would never endorse a candidate. I would never campaign for a candidate,” he added. “I think as a pastor my role is to pastor all the flock regardless of their political persuasion, so I wouldn’t have wanted endorsements anyways.” During the forum, Obama and McCain are expected to answer questions from Warren about faith and moral issues such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights. “I believe in the separation of church and state, but I do not believe in the separation of faith and politics,” Warren said.

Special Needs Sunday Schools on the Rise

Special needs advocates are fond of pointing out that Jesus spent much of His ministry among people with disabilities. However, the message of His ministry was for everyone, said Carlton McDaniel, special needs specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources, Baptist Press reports. "The second half of that story is that by meeting the needs of those He helped and gravitating to people in need, He really modeled love to the able-bodied," McDaniel said during the July 11-14 Sunday School Week. Considering that attendance at special needs conference sessions has quadrupled from past Sunday School conferences, churches may be getting that message. "I see people with disabilities being more visible in the community, more included in life and not shut behind doors anymore, praise God," said Jo Ann Banks of Weaverville, N.C. Starting a special ministry requires a "people-centered" outlook rather than one that is people-driven, McDaniel said.

Court Orders University to Recognize Christian Fraternity

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ordered officials at the University of Florida to recognize a Christian fraternity, The Christian Post reports. The fraternity, Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), or Brothers Under Christ, had filed a lawsuit for discrimination. Judges from the federal appeals court in Atlanta issued the injunction on Wednesday, ordering the school to officially acknowledge the 23-year-old fraternity currently allowed on at least 20 other campuses nationwide. The fraternity will be able to operate as an active "on-campus" student organization at the university this fall. "This ruling is encouraging to the young men of Beta Upsilon Chi at the University of Florida, but more importantly it makes a strong national statement that the rights of religious freedom and free association must be respected by universities," said Brett Williams, board member of Beta Upsilon Chi.