Religion Today Summaries - December 8, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 8, 2004

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

  • Churches Protest Parade's 'Too Politically Correct' Religious-Theme Ban

  • Charitable Consumers Urged to Give Target a Miss 

  • India:  Mob Attacks Church In Coastal Town of Mangalore

  • United Methodist Church Trial Of Lesbian Pastor

Churches Protest Parade's 'Too Politically Correct' Religious-Theme Ban
Charisma News Service

Challenging a holiday parade's long-standing, religious-theme ban as "too politically correct," Christians in Denver this weekend sang Christmas carols, including "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World," in a peaceful protest of the policy. About 1,000 people from churches throughout the area gathered together before the city's annual Parade of Lights started Friday and Saturday, The Denver Post reported. The Downtown Denver Partnership, a private nonprofit group that has run the parade since 1974, rejected Faith Bible Chapel's bid to have a float in this year's event. Jim Basey, president of the business group, said he has received many e-mail messages and also said he would review the policy after this year's parade. Some of the churches promoted themselves even as the members sang with free hot chocolate in cups emblazoned with the church's name, and handy lists of all the participating churches with addresses and a schedule of Christmas services. Members of the Heritage Christian Center in Denver weaved their way down the jammed sidewalk handing out hot chocolate and free tickets to their Christmas pageant. Organizers say attendance at the parade, estimated at 375,000 over the two nights, was as strong as ever. The protesters did not interrupt the parade. (

Charitable Consumers Urged to Give Target a Miss
Ed Thompson, AgapePress

Pro-family groups are recommending that Christmas shoppers voice their opinion with their dollars this year and let Target, the nation's largest retailer, know that people of faith do not support its decision to stop assisting the Salvation Army in its annual kettle drive program. Target made a decision this holiday season to discontinue the Salvation Army's access to all of the retailer's more than 1,300 stores nationwide. The decision is part of the company's new policy prohibiting all nonprofits from soliciting at Target stores. Target's new rules mean a potential loss of 9 million dollars, or ten percent of overall kettle donations, as compared to last year's collected funds. Many consumers believe this is a step in the wrong direction for a business that has the ability to facilitate help for thousands of needy people across the country through on-site donations. American Family Association media spokesperson Kathryn Hooks says people of faith should be outraged over Target's decision that says a worthy charity like the Salvation Army is no longer welcome on its premises. Hooks says many believers feel big business should do its part to help the needy, especially during the holidays. She hopes people of faith will send a message to Target, letting the company know that those consumers' disapproval of its new policy will be reflected in their holiday spending.

India:  Mob Attacks Church In Coastal Town of Mangalore
Charisma News Service

A mob recently attacked a church in the coastal town of Mangalore during a Sunday worship service. According to local newspapers, the group of about 15 people barged into a hall belonging to the Jesus Bread of Life Ministry on Nov. 7 and smashed windowpanes, chairs, fans, pots and musical instruments, Compass Direct reported. After destroying church property, the mob warned the worshipers against conducting religious conversion. No casualties were reported. Police arrested one man for questioning on the day of the attack. On Nov. 18, police arrested 11 more suspects. The church has since filed a case accusing the mob of rioting and causing disturbance to religious harmony. Priscilla D'Souza, president of the Jesus Bread of Life Ministry, denied the charges of conversion. "We are not involved in conversions. If we talk to people about humanity, people accuse us of attempting conversions. These [accusers] are the people behind the attack," said D'Souza, who believes the attack involved the Bajrang Dal, a Hindu extremist group. Meanwhile, V.M. Samuel, pastor of the Bangalore New Life Fellowship, told Compass that numerous attacks on churches in and around Mangalore have occurred in recent years. (

United Methodist Church Trial Of Lesbian Pastor

Under way in Pennsylvania is a United Methodist Church trial of a UMC pastor who has publicly admitted she is a lesbian. The case involving Pastor Irene Stroud is the third such church trial under a Methodist law banning clergy who are "self-avowed practicing homosexuals." Stroud told her congregation last year that she lives with a lesbian partner and has already declared she will continue her current preaching work under lay status if she is defrocked. A New Hampshire female pastor was defrocked in the 1980s in the first trial resulting from the UMC's 1984 law. However, a church court in Washington State last March acquitted a lesbian female pastor. Despite the fact the woman admitted she was a practicing lesbian, the jury of senior clergy declared there was not enough evidence to convict her of "practices incompatible with Christian teaching."