Religion Today Summaries, January 16, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, January 16, 2004

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

  • Activist Wants Justice for Harassed Campus Conservative
  • Only Half of Protestant Pastors Hold Biblical Worldview
  • Nativity Case a Political 'Hot Potato' for Palm Beach
  • Authorities Trying To Close Baptist Church in Uzbekistan

Activist Wants Justice for Harassed Campus Conservative
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A California public high school is being accused of violating the civil rights of a conservative Christian student. Upset with what he viewed as an extreme liberal bias at Rancho Cotate High School, Tim Bueler decided to level the playing field by starting a conservative club on campus.  Since the club was formed, the student has encountered some resistance. Chris Carmouche is executive director of a grassroots public policy organization that wages web warfare against the liberal establishment. Carmouche says Bueler has been subjected to harassment by faculty members and threats of violence by students because of his conservative beliefs. "Students -- in one case a gang of about seven students, and in another case a gang of about 12 other students -- approached [Bueler and] took umbrage to some of the comments that he had published under the purview of the club," Carmouche says. The internet activist says teachers were present at both incidents, and in both cases, Bueler asked the teachers for assistance. But rather receiving any help, Carmouche says, the conservative student was rebuked by the teachers. Bueler has leveled charges of civil rights violations against the administration of Rancho Cotate High School. Carmouche says school officials have a vendetta against Bueler because he is an outspoken Christian. He also questions whether those officials are doing all they can to see that Bueler's attackers are punished.

Only Half of Protestant Pastors Hold Biblical Worldview
Charisma News Service

A respected Christian pollster says only half of Protestant pastors nationwide hold a biblical worldview. According to the newest study by the Barna Research Group (BRG), only 51 percent of ministers have a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone and the personal responsibility to evangelize). Last month, a BRG survey of 2,033 adults found that only 4 percent of Americans possess a biblical worldview, while just 9 percent of born-again Christians and 7 percent of Protestants have such a perspective on life. Released earlier this week, the survey of 601 senior pastors in seven denominational segments discovered that there are significant variations by church affiliation and other demographics. “In some denominations, the vast majority of clergy do not have a biblical worldview, and it shows up clearly in the data related to the theological views and moral choices of people who attend those churches," Barna says. The Southern Baptists had the highest percentage of pastors with a biblical worldview (71 percent), while the Methodists were lowest (27 percent). The survey revealed some unexpected differences based on pastoral background, with the most intriguing relating to theological training.

Nativity Case a Political 'Hot Potato' for Palm Beach
Allie Martin, Agape Press

The chief counsel with the Thomas More Law Center says a federal lawsuit against a Florida city over its refusal to allow a Nativity scene to be displayed alongside a Jewish menorah is having political ramifications. Late last year, the Thomas More Law Center sued the Town of Palm Beach on behalf of two residents that wanted to display the Nativity alongside menorahs that were erected on city property during the holidays. The lawsuit claims the town's use of public funds to store, maintain, and light the menorahs -- and its refusal to allow the Christian Nativity display -- amounts to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.  The suit also points out that local officials did not use a disclaimer sign on the menorahs, yet required such a disclaimer for a Nativity display. Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center, says the issue has become a volatile political topic. "Three incumbent town council members have now all gotten challenges," the attorney explains.  But town officials may be close to revamping their policy regulating the display of Christian symbols on city-owned property. "The federal lawsuit is still going on, but because of the anger many Christians have felt because of this overt discrimination against Christian religious symbols, it's become a hot political issue," he says.

Authorities Trying To Close Baptist Church in Uzbekistan
Voice of the Martyrs

An Uzbek official, who fined Baptist pastor Oleg Bader for running children's camps and a children's club attached to his church, has described the fine as "completely within the law." The church is being forced to change and re-register its statute by 27 January, even though children's work was included in the original statute. The pastor's lawyer has been denied access to the cases documents, and the justice department has refused to explain why this is so. It is feared that, like another church further north, re-registration may be denied and the church declared illegal. Sources have said that the authorities want to close the church because they do not want Christianity to spread in Khorezm region.