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Religion Today Summaries - August 26, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News

Religion Today Summaries - August 26, 2004

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

  • County Worker Will Keep Contending for Religious Freedom

  • Counselors Forbidden to Proselytize Athletes in Olympic Village

  • California parishes sever ties over stand on homosexuality

  • Falwell unashamed of Bush endorsement

County Worker Will Keep Contending for Religious Freedom
Allie Martin and Jenni Parker, AgapePress

A California man is not giving up his fight to display his Christian faith at his place of employment. Last year Daniel Berry, a Tehama County Department of Social Services employee, filed suit against the county, arguing that he was discriminated against on the basis of his religious beliefs. Berry claimed his supervisors told him he could not discuss his faith with his clients. He says they also prevented him from displaying religious items in his employee work space.  A district court sided with the county and ruled against Berry. But now the Pacific Justice Institute has filed an appeal with the higher Ninth Circuit Court. Brad Dacus, PJI's president, feels the case is a clear example of government hostility against religion. "Religious people -- and Christians particularly -- should not have to put up with being treated as second-class citizens and have to hide their faith simply because they are in the workplace," Dacus says. He points out that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees' religious beliefs.  Since the lower court sided with the county, the head of PJI believes the appeal is warranted -- and he says the client is eager to pursue the matter.

Counselors Forbidden to Proselytize Athletes in Olympic Village
Charisma News Service

While various ministry groups conduct evangelistic campaigns during the Summer Olympics in Greece, Christian counselors have been instructed to refrain from proselytizing competitors of the Games. Dietmar Ness, a counselor with the German evangelical ministry SRS, told the Christian news agency IDEA that anyone not abiding by the rules laid down by the Athens Olympic Committee will be expelled from the Olympic Village. Ness said Christians are allowed to only give Bibles to athletes if they specifically request one. The distribution of Christian literature or videos is not permitted. Meanwhile, students from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) are using sports as a platform for sharing their faith, Baptist Press (BP) reported. During their 12-day sports-based ministry trip to Athens, team members will be out on the streets teaching sports skills and looking for opportunities to share the gospel. With 4 million residents and an influx of Olympic visitors in Athens, the team will have many witnessing opportunities.  Youth With A Mission has some 750 young people from more than 20 countries taking part in evangelistic outreaches during the Olympics. Hellenic Ministries, a major Greek missions organization, is sending teams to some 80 islands, which are not Olympic sites. The 17-day athletic competition started Aug. 13 and runs through Sunday.(http://www.charismanow.com)

California parishes sever ties over stand on homosexuality
Jenni Parker, AgapePress

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, the Anglican primate of Uganda, has declared his full support for two Southern California parishes that broke away from the American branch of the Anglican Communion over the denomination's stand on homosexuality. Severing ties with the Episcopal Church USA, the two California parishes have chosen to become affiliated with a conservative diocese in Uganda. On Monday, August 23, Archbishop Orombi announced his support for these dissenting congregations and denounced Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop J. Jon Bruno because of his threat to defrock the clergy of the disaffected parishes unless they returned to the ECUSA. The Ugandan archbishop's intervention raises the dispute to the level of a controversy between two national churches. He has condemned any attempt on the part of the Los Angeles bishop to depose the dissident priests and claims "he has no jurisdiction over them, and his actions will not be recognized." Bruno responded to Orombi's statement by saying he would not yield his authority over the breakaway clergy. Orombi's Ugandan province broke relations with the ECUSA last year after the U.S. church approved the election of homosexual priest V. Gene Robinson as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire.

Falwell unashamed of Bush endorsement
Samuel Smith, Baptist Press

Jerry Falwell refused to back down from his endorsement
of President Bush's re-election bid in his first-ever speaking engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 24. He also said that Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an organization that has attacked Falwell for his support of the president, was targeting conservative churches. Falwell is pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Nationally, he is best known as the leader of the Moral Majority, a conservative political action group founded in 1979. Americans United and its director, Barry Lynn, recently filed a complaint against Falwell and his church with the Internal Revenue Service, alleging that, as pastor, Falwell had openly urged and continues to encourage people to support President Bush's campaign. Doing so should result in the loss of the church's tax-exempt status under IRS regulations, Lynn said. IRS guidelines prohibit churches and other 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations from actively endorsing a candidate for office or expending funds in a political campaign. No investigation of Falwell or his church has taken place, Falwell insisted. He described Americans United's attempt to cast the situation as an active investigation as a "red herring" and a "scare tactic."