Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 8, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 8, 2008

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

  • Why Americans Prefer Sundays Segregated
  • Homosexual Activist Admits There is No 'Gay Gene'
  • Warren Graces TIME Cover
  • Pakistani Christian Allegedly Murdered

Why Americans Prefer Sundays Segregated

According to a report on, many American blacks as well as whites prefer segregated Sundays, religious scholars and members of interracial churches say. The story cites an example where the senior pastor of a suburban church in California was approached by parishioners worried that the racial makeup of their small church was changing. They warned that the church's newest members would try to seize control because members of their race were inherently aggressive. "One man asked me if I was prepared for a hostile takeover," says Rev. Paul Earl Sheppard, who believes the experience demonstrated why racially integrated churches are difficult to create and even harder to sustain. According to the CNN story, only about 5 percent of U.S. churches are racially integrated, and half of those are near to becoming all-black or all-white. Researchers have found that just like in society, racial tensions in the church can erupt over everything from sharing power to interracial dating. On the flip side is the Rev. Rodney Woo, half-white, half-Chinese, senior pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston. Woo's congregation consists of blacks, whites and Latinos. When he assumed the pastorate, "white flight" was already taking place in the church, and some suggested he add a 'd' to the end of his last name. "The fear there was people would think I was Chinese. There would be a flood of all these Asians coming in, and what would we do then?" Instead, Woo made racial diversity part of the church's mission statement, preaching it and living it. Wilcrest now has about 500 members, and is evenly divided among tri-racial lines. But that doesn't mean Wilcrest has resolved all of its racial tensions."If there's not any tension, we probably haven't done too well," Woo says. "If one group feels too comfortable, we've probably neglected another group."

Homosexual Activist Admits There is No 'Gay Gene' reports that at least one prominent campaigner in the British homosexual movement has admitted that no genetic marker for homosexual behavior has been found. Peter Tatchell, founder of the "direct action" group OutRage!, wrote on Spiked Online that he agrees with the scientific consensus that there is no such thing as a "gay gene." Tatchell wrote, "Genes and hormones may predispose a person to one sexuality rather than another. But that's all. Predisposition and determination are two different things." Those who adhere to "born gay" theory commonly accuse Christians and others who object to the homosexual movement of being racists and bigots. Tatchell even acknowledged the existence of some who have changed their "sexual orientation."

Warren Graces TIME Cover

In this week’s issue, TIME’s David Van Biema profiles Rick Warren, the founding pastor of one of the country’s largest churches and the host of the upcoming "civil forum," which will feature the two presumptive Presidential nominees on August 16. Also in the issue, John McCain and Barack Obama write about their own views of faith, and a new TIME poll shows that 70% of white Evangelical voters support McCain. In his profile of Warren, Van Biema writes that the pastor “is unquestionably the U.S.’s most influential and highest-profile churchman. He is a natural leader, a pathological schmoozer, insatiably curious and often the smartest person in the room. Like [Billy] Graham, he projects an authenticity that has helped him forge an exquisite set of political connections — in the White House, on both sides of the legislative aisle and abroad. And he is both leading and riding the newest wave of change in the Evangelical community: an expansion beyond social conservatism to causes such as battling poverty, opposing torture and combating global warming." Warren tells TIME that he will not give the candidates "a religion test" during the civil forum.

Pakistani Christian Allegedly Murdered

Compass Direct News reports that Pakistani police declared the death of a young Christian man in May to be a suicide requiring no investigation, but a high inspector has reopened the case and taken two Muslim suspects into custody. Adeel Masih, 19, was found dead on May 4 in Hafizabad, Pakistan. His family and human rights lawyers believe the relatives of a 19-year-old Muslim woman, Kiran Irfan, with whom Masih had a one-year relationship, tortured and killed him. Members of the Masih family said that when they first tried to register the case with local police three months ago, officers did not cooperate because the suspects were Muslim and the victim was a Christian, according to the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS). “The police said, ‘We will first inquire whether Adeel has committed suicide,’ because the culprits told the police about the fact that their daughter wanted to embrace Christianity because of Adeel,” said Aneeqa Maria, a case worker for CLAAS. “[In] this way the police were biased and lingered on the matter, because if there is a long delay in the lodging of a first incidence report, the case becomes weak.”