Religion Today Summaries - August 17, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 17, 2005

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

  • Lutherans Reject Catholic Practice Of Indulgence

  • Pulling of 'Prayer' Posters in Classroom Results in 1st Amendment Lawsuit 

  • Sri Lanka Assassination Affects Christian Work

  • Ministry Celebrates, Encourages Fidelity

Lutherans Reject Catholic Practice Of Indulgence
Wolfgang Polzer, Assist News Service

A Catholic practice, which gave rise to Martin Luther’s reformation in the 16th century, has surfaced again as a topical issue 500 years later. Pope Benedict XVI has promised the approximately 800,000 participants of the current World Youth Day in Cologne total indulgence, provided they confess their sins, repent and receive Holy Communion. Non-participants may receive partial indulgence if they pray earnestly for a courageous Christian testimony at the mass event. The idea of indulgence is tied to the Catholic teaching of purgatory. In short, it means that temporal punishments for sins in the hereafter can be avoided or shortened by repentance and good deeds in this life. Luther protested not only against the malpractice but also against this Catholic teaching in principle, as the leading Bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, Hans Christian Knuth, points out. Lutherans cannot accept purgatory and indulgence, even in a reformed modern Catholic understanding, as the Bishop emphasized in an interview with the evangelical news agency “idea”. The teaching of purgatory and indulgence is, in his words, neither in keeping with the Bible nor the central articles of the Christian faith. The wages of sin cannot be removed by any human action, but only by the grace of God and through faith in Jesus Christ. Neither can His redemption be supplemented with good deeds.

Pulling of 'Prayer' Posters in Classroom Results in 1st Amendment Lawsuit
Jim Brown, AgapePress

A public high school in Virginia is being sued for removing prayer-themed posters from a Christian teacher's classroom wall while he was out sick for several days last fall. A poster promoting the National Day of Prayer and depicting George Washington praying at Valley Forge, and a picture of President George W. Bush praying were among the items school officials confiscated from Spanish teacher William Lee's classroom at Tabb High School in Yorktown. Even a small cross in a display about a former student was cut out with scissors and thrown away by the school while Lee was out. Lee's attorney, John Whitehead with The Rutherford Institute, says York County school officials wrongly claim the prayer posters violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. "The problem with most school officials is they forget that there are other rights that are in the Bill of Rights that counterbalance the so-called separation of church and state," the attorney says, "and that's our rights to free speech, freedom of religion, [and] to be
treated equally under the law." Lee had also put up posters of the Peruvian Inca sun god festival and Mayan creature gods -- things often discussed in his Spanish class. However, those religious items were not removed. Whitehead has filed the lawsuit in the eastern district of Virginia on behalf of Lee.

Sri Lanka Assassination Affects Christian Work
Gospel For Asia

Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, an ethnic Tamil Christian, was assassinated in a gun attack recently and the state of emergency that followed has affected GFA ministry on the island. “The biggest problem for our ministry is in the Batticaloa area, in the eastern area of the country controlled by the Tamil Tigers. This area was hard-hit by the tsunami, and we have a lot of relief and children’s work there. Our work there has been affected by these events,” explained GFA’s Sri Lanka ministry leader. Tension is high in the area. A senior police officer has blamed the assassination on the Tamil Tigers terrorist group, but President Chandrika Kumaratunga has pledged not to break the two-year-old ceasefire between the Tamil rebels and government forces. The President appealed for “calm and restraint.” Although Mr. Kadirgamar was himself a Tamil, he opposed the rebels’ calls for an independent Tamil area in northern Sri Lanka, and some of the Tiger leaders considered him a traitor to their cause. Some GFA leaders are concerned that these powers could be used as a way to hamper evangelism and other church work. Please be in prayer for peace in Sri Lanka, for the GFA and Believers Church leaders there, and that those on both sides of the conflict will come to know the peace found only in Jesus Christ.

Ministry Celebrates, Encourages Fidelity
AFA Journal/Agape Press

Stand F.I.R.M. is a new ministry with its roots in "It's You," a love song written and recorded by Troy Johnson, former Motown and RCA recording artist. Johnson's song celebrates marital fidelity, the basis for the F.I.R.M. acronym standing for Fidelity Initiative - Restore Marriage. "We believe this movement is going to spark a fidelity reformation in this country," said Mark Molzen of SA Entertainment, a Scottsdale, Arizona, company committed to producing powerful music with a positive message. Johnson's desire to be involved in ministry led him to be a co-founder of Stand F.I.R.M. The Stand F.I.R.M. kick-off event occurred last week in Little Rock, Arkansas, and featured music by Johnson along with popular contemporary Christian artists the Katinas. In addition, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, NBA stars A.C. Green and Allan Houston, and NFL greats Steve Young and Darryl Green were on hand to address the crowd.