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Religion Today Summaries - July 20, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 20, 2009

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

  • Christian Groups Eye Hate Crimes Bill
  • Megachurch Leaders See Themselves as Teacher, Not Pastor
  • Internet Ministry Sees 1Million Decisions for Jesus in June
  • Episcopals’ First Openly Gay Bishop Speaks

Christian Groups Eye Hate Crimes Bill

Christianity Today reports that conservative Christian groups are worried that a federal hate crimes bill may restrict what pastors can say from the pulpit. The bill -- now attached as an amendment to a defense spending bill -- could incriminate pastors who condemn homosexuality biblically with "evidence of motivation," said Ashley Horne, a federal policy analyst for Focus on the Family. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said, "I think what's going to scare the liver out of the insurance companies is people will go into civil court and claim damages based on speech from the pulpit."

Megachurch Leaders See Themselves as Teacher, Not Pastor

The Christian Post reports that 81 percent of megachurch pastors are more likely to think of themselves as "preacher/teacher" than "pastor, shepherd or spiritual guide." The Leadership Network's Large-Church Senior Pastor Survey found that such leaders see themselves as directing the church's vision and direction, primarily through their preaching abilities. Only 10 percent say they are strongest in pastoral counseling and spiritual direction. The survey found that 51 percent of megachurch leaders believe they further their "continuing education" via conferences. Pastors contacted for the survey conduct an average of three services each weekend with about 2,000 attendees total.

Internet Ministry Sees 1 Million Decisions for Jesus in June

For the first time, Global Media Outreach (GMO) saw over 1 million people indicate decisions for Jesus Christ in one month. In June, 1,030,581 people indicated either a first-time decision to follow Jesus or a decision to recommit their life to Christ through one of more than 90 GMO Gospel Web sites. The five-year-old media arm of Campus Crusade for Christ also received and responded to more than 180,000 people who e-mailed the ministry asking for discipleship. “This is an historic event only possible by God’s power,” said Walt Wilson, GMO founder and chair. “Over the past few months, we have seen an increasing number of people come to our evangelistic web and mobile sites.”

Episcopals’ First Openly Gay Bishop Speaks

In a New York Times interview, the Episcopal Church's only openly gay bishop gave his reaction to the General Convention's recent decisions on homosexuality. Bishop Gene Robinson said the feeling conservatives now have as the "minority" is a "valuable... experience." He also called the church's decision to end the moratorium on gay bishops and to bless same-sex marriage as a "new and significant thing. It felt much more theological and philosophical than being about an individual" who is already known to the church. Robinson said he doesn't expect dioceses to immediately elect bishops simply because they are gay, but said that "there’s no question it will happen, because there are just great people out there [who are gay and] who would make great bishops."