Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 7, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 7, 2007

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

  • NRB Concerned over Grassley Probe
  • Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar Refuse to Provide Financial Records to Senate
  • Court: Iowa Can't Fund Prison Ministry
  • Swiss Evangelicals Heat Up Creationism Debate

NRB Concerned over Grassley Probe

The National Religious Broadcasters delivered a letter to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley Dec. 3, expressing concern over a probe he is conducting into the financial records of six television ministries, Baptist Press reports. Although the six ministries are not members of NRB, the organization's president, Frank Wright, said he nonetheless is disturbed about the "broader implications of this issue, not only for our members, but for all non-profit Christian ministries as well." He also said Grassley's request "goes far beyond a mere request for financial records necessary to scrutinize the charitable nature of [an] organization's operations." Grassley has a history of probing non-profit organizations, previously looking into the financial records of the Nature Conservancy, the Red Cross and the Smithsonian Institute, The Des Moines Register reported.

Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar Refuse to Provide Financial Records to Senate

Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, said in a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday that he will not respond to Senator Grassley's inquiry until next year. Likewise, a lawyer for Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta said Wednesday that the investigation should be referred to the IRS or the Senate panel should get a subpoena for the documents. Of the six television ministries probed, only Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., has provided the detailed financial and board oversight information sought by Grassley. Ronn Torossian, a spokesman for Hinn, said the preacher "plans to facilitate a response to Senator Grassley's inquiry by Jan. 30th, and likewise notified the senator's office of this intent on Nov. 20th."

Court: Iowa Can't Fund Prison Ministry

According to the Washington Post, a federal appeals court said yesterday that the state of Iowa violated the U.S. and Iowa constitutions by funding an evangelical prison ministry to rehabilitate inmates, because they did not provide a similar secular program. It was not immediately clear how the ruling might affect the millions of dollars that come from the White House's faith-based office to public programs around the country. "In terms of the constitutional issues, we had a smashing victory today," said Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Prison Fellowship will not be required to repay $1.5 million it received for running the program at Newton from 1999 until recent months. The prison and the state acted "in good faith," wrote the 3-judge panel, which included Sandra Day O'Connor. Neither side plans to appeal the decision.

Swiss Evangelicals Heat Up Creationism Debate

The Christian Post reports that evangelicals in Switzerland recently sparked controversy when they successfully moved school authorities to include creationism alongside evolution in a science textbook. Creationism was presented with evolution in the book as two ways of “explaining” the origin of the universe and life on earth, according to swissinfo, the e-zine by Swiss Radio International. But angry scientists and education experts soon forced the revision of the divisive passage, arguing that teaching creationism in science classes implies a controversy when there isn’t since evolution has been “proven beyond all reasonable doubt.” The publication of the textbook came just before the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe urged its members – including Switzerland – to “oppose firmly any attempts at teaching creationism as a scientific discipline.”