Religion Today Summaries - July 27, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 27, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Atheist Group Wants Cross Removed From 9/11 Museum
  • Poll: Americans Want 'Religious' Presidents
  • Catholics Offer $50M for Crystal Cathedral
  • New Petition Calls for Freedom in North Korea


Atheist Group Wants Cross Removed From 9/11 Museum

An Atheist group is insisting that no religious symbols be included at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, said including the World Trade Center cross unconstitutionally mingles church and state. "As a public accommodation, the memorial must allow us (and all other religious philosophies) to include our own display of equal size inside the museum, or not include the cross. Equality is an all-or-nothing deal," Silverman said in a statement, according to The Christian Post. The 17-foot cross in question is made of two intersecting beams found intact following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in downtown New York City. The cross is "an important part of our commitment to bring back the authentic physical reminders that tell the history of 9/11 in a way nothing else could," 9/11 Memorial president Joe Daniels said Saturday.

Poll: Americans Want 'Religious' Presidents

Americans want their presidents to be religious, but Religion News Service reports that many have trouble identifying the faiths of President Obama and leading GOP contenders. According to a new poll released Monday, a majority of Americans (56 percent) say it's important for a candidate to have strong beliefs, even if those beliefs differ from their own. Yet the religious groups most firmly behind this point - white evangelicals (73 percent) and ethnic minority Christians (74 percent) - often falter when asked about politicians' religions. For instance, just 44 percent of white evangelicals know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. At the same time, more than 8 in 10 evangelicals say Mormon religious beliefs greatly differ from their own. And only one in three Americans can correctly identify Obama's Christian faith. Consistent with previous polls, about one in five (18 percent) Americans think Obama is Muslim. The poll was conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service.

Catholics Offer $50M for Crystal Cathedral

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, Calif., has offered $50 million to purchase the Crystal Cathedral. Religion News Service reports that the famed Protestant megachurch is attempting to recover from a bankruptcy crisis. The diocese -- the nation's 11th largest -- does not currently have a cathedral. The offer, which includes an immediate deposit of $250,000 and a secondary payment of $750,000, could provide creditors with relief by the end of the year, Bishop Todd Brown said in a July 22 announcement. The diocese's plan would permit the Southern California ministry to have a leaseback option for an interim period, and give it space for religious and administrative purposes on nearby diocesan property when that period concludes. Brown called Crystal Cathedral Ministries, founded by Robert H. Schuller, "a valued religious resource" and said he hoped it could continue under the diocese's plan.

New Petition Calls for Freedom in North Korea

An interim petition calling for religious freedom in North Korea has notched up more than 20,000 signatures from concerned Christians in the UK, according to Christian Today. Persecution watchdog Release International presented the petition to the North Korean embassy in London last week. It demands that the oppressive communist country grant freedom of worship to Christians, who faith regular harassment by the authorities and can be arrested or imprisoned for even owning a Bible. Human rights organizations accuse North Korea of putting up to 180,000 people into forced labor. "Those who’ve got away describe these camps as 'hell on Earth’," said Andy Dipper, of Release International. "In this land where a form of emperor worship is practiced, Christians can be detained, brutally tortured and removed from society."