Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 11, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 11, 2008

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

  • England: Airport Worker Loses Right to Wear her Cross
  • Pastor Sentenced for Tax Fraud
  • How Do Unchurched Americans View Christianity?
  • Ex-Klansman Reunites with Victim, Finds Forgiveness

Airport Worker Loses Right to Wear her Cross

A British Airways worker who claimed she was religiously discriminated against after being banned from wearing her Christian cross has lost her case, ASSIST News Service reports. The BBC reported that Nadia Eweida, 56, from Twickenham, south-west London, said her British Airways (BA) bosses banned her from wearing a small cross around her neck. But an employment tribunal said she had breached the firm's regulations without good cause. In a statement the airline said it was "pleased" at the decision. Miss Eweida said after learning of the judgment: "I'm very disappointed. I'm speechless really because I went to the tribunal to seek justice. But the judge has given way for BA to have a victory on imposing their will on all their staff." Adding: "It's not over until God says it's over," she vowed to proceed with her case if her solicitor agreed.

Pastor Sentenced for Tax Fraud

Gregory Clarke, pastor of the 6,000-member New Hope Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for three counts of filing false income tax returns, Baptist Press reports. A judge in December also ordered Clarke to pay more than $35,000 in restitution to the government after his July 2007 jury conviction, according to The Birmingham News. Clarke, who has been pastor of New Hope since 1986, claimed that much of the money he received was gifts or "love offerings" rather than compensation for services he provided. Prosecutors said Clarke underreported $110,000 in earned income during 2000, 2001 and 2002 and devised an intricate system of deceiving the government, funneling earned income into accounts, according to The News. Jurors found Clarke guilty on three counts of tax fraud. Clarke, 53, is scheduled to begin serving his sentence Feb. 15, but his attorneys have asked a judge to allow him to delay the sentence and remain free on bond while he appeals his conviction.

How Do Unchurched Americans View Christianity?

The Christian Post reports that a new study found that most unchurched people in the U.S. are willing to hear what people have to say about Christianity but a majority also sees the church as a place full of hypocrites. "A full 72 percent of the people interviewed said they think the church ‘is full of hypocrites,’" said LifeWay Research director Ed Stetzer. "At the same time, however, 71 percent of the respondents said they believe Jesus ‘makes a positive difference in a person’s life’ and 78 percent said they would ‘be willing to listen’ to someone who wanted to share what they believed about Christianity." LifeWay Research studied 1,402 adults who were unchurched - those who had not attended a religious service at a church, synagogue or mosque in the previous six months - last spring and summer.

Ex-Klansman Reunites with Victim, Finds Forgiveness

A feature in the Houston Chronicle tells the story of Stan Chassin, a 59-year-old investment counselor in Mobile, AL, who had heard that a bully from his youth named Tommy Tarrants was coming back to town. Tarrants had terrorized Chassin in high school by cursing him for being Jewish, grabbing him by the throat and threatening to kim. Tarrants eventually left school and joined up with the KKK. But Tarrants, now 60, was returning to Mobile not as a Klansman, but as a profoundly changed man. Years before, he had published a memoir, The Conversion of a Klansman, and a decade ago had become president of the C.S. Lewis Institute in Washington, D.C. Chassin, wary about what he had heard of Tarrants' transformation, wanted to see for himself. Tarrants had no hint about him of the long-ago teenager's swagger or rant. Tarrants spoke gently of his slide toward militant bigotry, how he learned to despise blacks and loathe Jews. He talked about sin as "a cancer" that had come into his body and heart. He told of being in a prison cell, of reading classical philosophy and Scripture, of a profound change in his heart as he came to understand the true meaning of God in his life. When he took questions, Chassin recounted how Tarrants had grabbed him by the throat at school, calling him anti-Semitic slurs. After an emotional exchange of mutual forgiveness, Chassin walked forward and held out his hand to shake, and the two men embraced.