Religion Today Summaries - July 17, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 17, 2006

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

  • NY's Disdain for Campaign Doesn't Deter Jews for Jesus
  • Theologian Says Clergy Marital, Sexual Discipline Lacking in ECUSA
  • Russian Government Arbitrarily Denying Entry To Christian Workers
  • African Archbishop Rebuked for Seeking Change to Celibacy Rule

NY's Disdain for Campaign Doesn't Deter Jews for Jesus

AgapePress reports that Jews for Jesus has poured virtually all its resources into New York City this month for its largest evangelistic campaign ever. The worldwide outreach group says it has already passed out more than 650,000 tracts. It has also spent $1.4 million to place illuminated panels in the city's vast subway system that read, "Jews for Jesus" and "Jesus for Jews." Susan Perlman, associate executive director for Jews for Jesus, says her organization is reaching out to several groups in New York through the effort, including the Israeli community, the Russian-speaking Jewish community, and the Hassidic community. "And [the evangelistic campaign] really is the topic of conversation in New York these days," she notes. Apparently not all that conversation is of a positive nature. The New York Post reports that many Jewish subway riders and community leaders are finding the signs inappropriate. An official with the Jewish Community Relations Council who found the message offensive said "the idea that someone could be a more fulfilled Jew by becoming a Christian is absolutely wrong." Perlman, a Messianic believer, says she is not surprised that some people are annoyed at the campaign.

Theologian Says Clergy Marital, Sexual Discipline Lacking in ECUSA

A conservative Anglican theologian says there's a "complete lack of marital and sexual discipline for the clergy" in mainline Protestant denominations -- namely the Episcopal Church USA. AgapePress reports the ECUSA is getting set to ordain a bishop who is twice divorced and in his third marriage. Barry Beisner is to become bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California on September 30, despite concerns raised by some members of the nominating committee. They noted the Bible says a bishop must be "above reproach" and "the husband of one wife." Dr. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, says the Episcopal Church is a "very broken church" in the area of leadership standards -- and Beisner's pending appointment, he adds, sends a confusing message. Harmon adds that the Christian standard in general is very clear -- those who are single need to be abstinent, and those who are married need to be faithful. He also comments that the vast majority of Anglicans outside the U.S. do not even countenance the idea of divorced clergy.

Russian Government Arbitrarily Denying Entry To Christian Workers

President Vladimir Putin, hosting the G8's first summit in Russia, hopes to use the meeting to showcase his country's new assertive global posture, but at the same time may be closing the doors to religious freedom in Russia. According to ASSIST News Service, John Livoti, Eastern European Outreach (EEO) New England Representative and team leader for seven years, was denied entry into Russia on his mission trip this month. Livoti arrived to Moscow's Domodevodo airport on July 4th with a valid entry visa in his passport issued by the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. Despite this fact, and with no explanation whatsoever, Russian authorities denied Livoti entrance into the country. Livoti was accompanied by a team of 14 people from New England who continued on through customs with no problem. Only Livoti was singled out and placed in a holding area. EEO Executive Director Jeff Thompson said, “Many Evangelical groups are facing new challenges in Russia. The harsh requirements of Russia’s 1997 Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations law are now being enforced at the local level, and the new Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) law enables authorities to closely monitor religious activities.”

African Archbishop Rebuked for Seeking Change to Celibacy Rule

Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo announced July 12 in Washington that he wants to change the Roman Catholic discipline on celibacy and "reconcile" an estimated 150,000 married priests worldwide with the church to allow them to resume priestly ministry. Catholic News Service reports that Archbishop Milingo's announcement drew a sharp rebuke from both sides of the Atlantic. "The Holy See has not yet received precise news about the aim of (the) visit to the United States of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, former archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia," said a July 13 statement from the Vatican. "In any case, if the declarations that have been attributed to him about ecclesiastical celibacy turn out to be true, the only possibility would be to deplore them (the declarations), given the fact that the discipline of the church in this regard is quite clear." Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, in whose archdiocese Archbishop Milingo made his declaration, said, "His appearance in Washington has once again placed himself in opposition to the practice and teaching of the church on the matter of priestly celibacy."