Religion Today Summaries - July 1, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 1, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • NAE President Leith Anderson to Retire From Wooddale Church
  • Two SBC Leaders Endorse Resolution Critical of NIV '11
  • Pakistan: Support for Blasphemy Laws Still Strong
  • Justices Rely on 'Standing' in Church-State Disputes


NAE President Leith Anderson to Retire From Wooddale Church

Leith Anderson, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), will step down as senior pastor of Wooddale Church at the end of this year. Christianity Today reports that Anderson, who will assume the title of pastor emeritus of the church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is author of many ministry books, including Leadership That Works and Dying for Change. Anderson has led the NAE on two separate occasions. He is credited for saving the association from financial ruin during his 2001-2003 interim presidency. He also took over leadership of the organization after former president Ted Haggard resigned in November 2006. He also served as interim president of that Denver Seminary in 1999. Wooddale, the church that GOP candidate Tim Pawlenty attends, is one of the largest in the Minneapolis area.

Two SBC Leaders Endorse Resolution Critical of NIV '11

Two prominent Southern Baptist leaders have endorsed a resolution that calls the New International Version (NIV) 2011 Bible an "inaccurate translation." The resolution was passed by convention messengers and says the Southern Baptist Convention cannot recommend the updated version. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, say messengers were right to pass the resolution and take a stand against what the language calls "gender neutral methods of translation." Mohler, though, did say he regrets the resolution addresses LifeWay stores so directly. Baptist Press reports that the controversy over a newer version of the NIV dates back to 2002 when messengers passed a resolution criticizing the Today's New International Version (TNIV) Bible, which also employed a gender-neutral philosophy of translation for pronouns.

Pakistan: Support for Blasphemy Laws Still Strong

Efforts to modify Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws have slackened inside the country since March. Governor of Pakistan’s province Punjab Salmaan Taseer and Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti were both assassinated shortly before then after voicing public support for Asia Bibi, the first woman sentenced to death for blasphemy charges. Another man, 29-year-old Abdul Sattar, was sentenced to death for blasphemy charges on June 21. According to the British group Index on Censorship, no one has ever been executed by the state for blasphemy charges. However, the number of those gunned down while facing charges continues to rise. In July 2010, two Christian brothers accused of committing blasphemy were killed just outside of a Pakistani court. Many Pakistanis have demonstrated publicly against any changes to the laws.

Justices Rely on 'Standing' in Church-State Disputes

As the U.S. Supreme Court ends its 2010-2011 term this week, legal scholars say a decision issued two months ago is likely to resonate within church-state debates for years to come. On April 4, the justices rejected a challenge to an Arizona school tuition credit program that largely benefits religious schools, saying taxpayers did not have legal grounds to challenge a tax credit as government spending. At the heart of the decision was an arcane yet essential legal term – "standing," or a plaintiff's right to sue. According to Religion News Service, critics say the court increasingly relies on standing to dismiss church-state challenges without addressing the merits of the complaints. But the Arizona ruling already is influencing other cases that touch on the First Amendment's prohibition on a government "establishment" of religion. Several groups have already withdrawn their cases following the ruling. Critics say the reasoning prevents the courts from considering whether the Constitution's Establishment Clause has been violated.