Religion Today Summaries - July 27, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 27, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Study: Few Americans Say Faith is Top Priority
  • Pakistan: Muslim Cleric Accuses Christians' Defender of Blasphemy
  • Gay and Transgender Lutheran Pastors Reinstated in San Francisco
  • Evangelists Hinn, White Deny Affair Allegations

Study: Few Americans Say Faith is Top Priority

A new study shows that the vast majority of Christians still identify with Christianity, but only a fraction say their faith is a "top priority" in their life. The Christian Post reports that almost 90 perfect of Americans identify as Christian, but just 12 percent call it their highest priority, compared with 45 percent who say their family is most important. "The gap is vast between self-described affiliation with Christianity and ascribing highest priority to that faith," commented David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, in a statement. "When it comes to why so much of American religion seems merely skin-deep, this gap between what people call themselves and what they prioritize is perhaps most telling." Other popular answers included health or a balanced lifestyle (20 percent) and financial or career success (17 percent).

Pakistan: Muslim Cleric Accuses Christians' Defender of Blasphemy

ASSIST News Service reports that blasphemy allegations continue to fly fast and thick in Pakistan, where a Muslim cleric has accused Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities of blasphemy. Federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti condemned last week's murders of two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy. The country's blasphemy laws easily allow Muslims to make false accusations against religious minorities. Muslim cleric Allama Ahmed Mian Hammadi, however, said Bhatti's defense of the two brothers made Bhatti himself a blasphemer. "It is not a cruelty to kill blasphemers, rather blasphemy itself is such an enormous brutality that the one who commits it neither has got a right to live in this world nor is there any pardon for the blasphemer," Hammadi told a Pakistani newspaper.

Gay and Transgender Lutheran Pastors Reinstated in San Francisco

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Lutheran church reinstated seven gay and transgender clergy this weekend. The seven had been barred for two decades as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wrestled with its policy on openly gay clergy. "We finally got to the direction we knew the Lutheran church was heading. It just took it longer to get there," said the Rev. Jeff Johnson, one of the seven reinstated in the San Francisco area. Johnson was nominated in 1990, when his church flouted the national church's policy that only celibate gay clergy be ordained. His church was subsequently expelled from the denomination. The denomination changed its stance last summer, provided individual churches accept the pastor.

Evangelists Hinn, White Deny Affair Allegations

CBN News reports that televangelists Benny Hinn and Paula White spent the weekend trying to downplay photos in The National Enquirer of the two holding hands. Both issued statements denying that they are having an affair despite the photos, released on July 23. "There is nothing inappropriate or morally improper about my friendship with Paula White," Hinn wrote in a message on his Web site. Hinn's wife of 30 years divorced him in February. Hinn and White say they have been friends for more than 20 years, but White, also divorced, said their "friendship has ... Remained morally and spiritually pure." She accused the Enquirer of publishing a "dishonest and misleading" article. She said, White wrote "I publicly profess and forcefully renounce assertions that the recent trip to Italy to meet with Vatican officials suggests that the friendship is in any way improper or morally impure."