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Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 20, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 20, 2006

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

  • Virginia Churches Commended for Leaving ECUSA
  • Colorado Church Formerly Led by Haggard Loses another Pastor
  • Ex-Muslim Calls on U.S. to Restrict Immigration from Islamic Nations
  • Groups Call for Relief for Iraqi Christians

Virginia Churches Commended for Leaving ECUSA

AgapePress reports that Evangelical activists are voicing their support for the Episcopal churches in Virginia who, over the weekend, voted strongly in favor of leaving the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. And even though the combined average attendance of the eight churches exceeds that of many entire Episcopal dioceses, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA says the congregations' departure doesn't threaten the denomination's survival. Sunday's action by eight churches in the Diocese of Virginia is evidence that warnings in 2003 following the appointment of an openly gay bishop were nigh unto prophetic, as those congregations voted to affiliate themselves with conservative Anglican groups in Africa and to join the newly established Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Rev. Rob Schenck is president of the Washington, DC-based National Clergy Council (NCC) and a member of Christ the Redeemer parish in Centreville, Virginia, one of the congregations that voted to leave the Episcopal Church. Schenck says the move was necessary, and that several of the churches that voted to severe ties with the denomination were out of options.

Colorado Church Formerly Led by Haggard Loses another Pastor

Another pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs has resigned after admitting to sexual misconduct and other mistakes, AgapePress reports. The resignation of Christopher Beard, who headed the church's young adults ministry, comes just weeks after former church leader Ted Haggard stepped down over sexual immorality. New Life officials say Beard admitted to "a series of decisions displaying poor judgment, including one incident of sexual misconduct several years ago." Church officials said the misconduct did not involve Haggard, but was with another unmarried adult. Beard, who worked at the church for nine years, has since married. New Life's leadership asked an outside board to examine the "spiritual character" of its 200 staff members after Haggard resigned last month from the church and as president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Ex-Muslim Calls on U.S. to Restrict Immigration from Islamic Nations

An Egyptian-born author says the United States is asking for trouble if it does not take steps to drastically restrict immigration from terrorist-harboring Islamic countries. Nonie Darwish has written a book called Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror. According to AgapePress, the former Muslim is deeply concerned that the U.S. will experience the problems of Europe and other areas of the world that have allowed unfettered Islamic immigration. So Darwish believes the U.S. should immediately stop issuing religious visas to Muslims wanting to immigrate here. "We have to ask [would-be immigrants] the question," she asserts, "do you want to live under shariah law?" And those who answer yes should never be granted a visa."

Groups Call for Relief for Iraqi Christians

Several groups are calling for improved treatment of Christians in Iraq, whom they say are being martyred, persecuted or forced to flee the country in order to survive, Baptist Press reports. Julia Sorisho Rodgers of Christians for Assyrians of Iraq said among the atrocities are the bombing of more than 15 churches, the kidnapping and murder of 13 Assyrian women in Baghdad in August, and the beheading of a priest in Mosul in October. “A lot of people in Washington don’t know who the Assyrians are,” said Rodgers, who organized a Dec. 4 rally outside the White House to protest the treatment of Assyrians, who include Christians, Catholics and Orthodox Church members. “They’re suffering from violence, lack of jobs and persecution. We’re being isolated for our faith.” In addition to petitions circulating on the Internet, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has urged granting refugee status to these persecuted believers.