Religion Today Summaries, February 23, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 23, 2004

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

  • American Pastor Killed in Attack in Iraq
  • Leader Claims Christian Voters Being Betrayed by Conservative Politicians
  • Christians Receive Small Blessings of Human Rights
  • Pro-Homosexual Methodist Minister Seeking Democratic Congressional Seat

American Pastor Killed in Attack in Iraq
Voice of the Martyrs

The U.S. military has confirmed that gunmen killed an American pastor when the taxi he was riding in was ambushed outside Baghdad. John Kelley, 48, was pastor of Curtis Corner Baptist Church in South Kingstown, R.I. He was traveling with a number of other ministers who went to Iraq on a two-week trip to explore the possibility of starting a church there. The Americans had been riding in a taxi when a white sedan pulled up alongside them and opened fire. Three other men, including David Davis of Grace Bible Baptist Church in Vernon, Conn., and Kirk DiVietro of Grace Baptist Church in Franklin, Mass., were injured in the ambush and were being treated at an Iraqi hospital, soldiers were told. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the administration discourages travel to Iraq by private citizens and does not encourage missionary work. In an e-mail from Baghdad to a church member, a friend described the shooting as "an execution-style attack.” "This was a tragic loss. Pastor Kelley has been a close associate of mine for many years. We have worked on a number of projects together in the work of the Lord.”

Leader Claims Christian Voters Being Betrayed by Conservative Politicians
Agape Press

A pro-family leader believes there's a chance conservative Christian voters are being betrayed by the very people who are campaigning for their support.  Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer says pro-family stances on many of the social issues of the day are being defeated at almost every turn.  As a result, he says, there is a major problem in America.  "All too often, the politicians who say they are on our side and believe in decency and honorable things appear ashamed, embarrassed, and hesitant to fight as hard for our values as our opponents fight for theirs," Bauer says.  So why do Christian issues always seem to lose the political battle?  Bauer says one cannot blame the polls.  "The polling data shows that most Americans are with us on things like the definition of marriage," he says.  "It can't be the media because there are plenty of conservative and Christian media outlets now that people can get news from."  Bauer says it appears that conservatives are being lied to by those who claim to share conservatives' traditional values.  "When push comes to shove, they don't fight for [those values] because they really don't believe in them," he says.  The pro-family activists feels conservatives in the U.S. must get tougher -- even with their friends on Capitol Hill -- if they expect to begin winning political battles.

Christians Receive Small Blessings of Human Rights
Voice of the Martyrs

In recent months, Protestants in Vietnam have seen intense activity on the religious rights’ front and point to four incidents of government concession that may indicate a change in the religious liberty climate. After Baptist house church leader Huynh Tan Tai documented a series of abuses he had suffered, provincial officials apologized to him and returned the Bibles they had confiscated. Local administrators who denied residence papers to Dinh Van Hoang for refusing to recant his Christian faith were transferred from their post after an American visitor brought Hoang’s plight to the attention of senior government leaders. A police station sit-in and prayer vigil persuaded police in Ho Chi Minh City to release about 20 young people arrested for distributing Christian literature during the Southeast Asia Games. Finally, a court postponed legal proceedings against Rev. Bui Van Ba who was charged with “resisting an officer doing his duty” in connection with a police raid on a prayer meeting in the Ba home. Observers believe the concessions are due to Vietnam’s concern for its international image coupled with newfound resolve within the country’s house churches.

Pro-Homosexual Methodist Minister Seeking Democratic Congressional Seat
Agape Press

A United Methodist minister who has performed same-sex "marriage" ceremonies now hopes to fight for the homosexual agenda in Congress.  Emanuel Cleaver II is the long-time pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri.  As the first black mayor in the city's history, he worked hard to get special rights for homosexuals.  Now the former two-term mayor is seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. congressional seat from the fifth district in Missouri.  Steve Dennis, the Republican who could be facing the popular Cleaver in November, says when it comes to the homosexual agenda, Cleaver's actions speak louder than words.  "He has in the past performed a number of civil union marriages -- or what he'd consider marriages -- and sees no problem with that," Dennis explains, adding that while he expects the homosexual marriage issue to come up during the campaign, it will ultimately not be a winner for the Methodist pastor.  "This is a losing issue," he says.  "You've got a 70 percent ratio of folks who do not agree that this…should not be accepted as normal."