Religion Today Summaries - July 30, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 30, 2004

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

  • Liberal Group Warns Pastors to Remain Silent about Politics
  • Palestinians Have Been in Holy Land Since Creation, Video Says
  • World Council of Churches: Europe Is a Mission Field
  • SoCal City Leaders Step Up to the Plate for Nat'l Motto, Mountaintop Cross

Liberal Group Warns Pastors to Remain Silent about Politics
Agape Press

Barry Lynn's organization, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, is taking aim at ministers and priests who voice any political opinions or views from the pulpit. North Carolina Representative Walter Jones says Lynn is out to stifle free speech in churches throughout the land. "I can honestly tell you that he's already filed a complaint against the Catholic Bishop in Colorado Springs, Bishop Sheridan, simply because the bishop wrote a three-page pastorial [sic] letter to every Catholic in his diocese, reminding them that they should look carefully at pro-life candidates. He never said the word Bush, he never used the word Kerry. What he did was use the word pro-life." Lynn is trying to use a law that could cause churches to lose their tax-exempt status if found guilty of uttering political speech. However, Jones says Catholic clergy and other religious leaders have the right to voice their views under the First Amendment. The Congressman has a bill before the House that would allow churches to engage in free speech without fear of negative legal consequences.

Palestinians Have Been in Holy Land Since Creation, Video Says
Julie Stahl, CNS News

A new Palestinian poetry video, aired on Palestinian Authority television nearly every day for the past few weeks, says the Palestinian people have been in the Holy Land since man was created, according to an independent Israeli media watchdog group. Despite historical evidence to the contrary, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and other PA officials have claimed for years that the land on which the State of Israel was established never belonged to the Jewish people; there was never a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City; and Jesus was not a Jew but a Palestinian. "Denying Israel's right to exist by claiming the Jews have no historical roots in Israel is a backbone of Palestinian Authority cultural education, as is the attempt to reinforce Palestinian claims to the land by creating an ancient Palestinian history in Israel," said the Palestinian Media Watch in a report issued on Friday. "You and Us," the new poetry video, combines both of those elements, PMW said. "You are phantoms on my land," the video says, showing pictures of Israelis. "And our roots in her are deep," it says showing scenes of the land. "For a million years it is our homeland."

World Council of Churches: Europe Is a Mission Field
Wolfgang Polzer, ASSIST News Service

Europe, the former "Christian Occident", has become a mission field, according to the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Samuel Kobia. The continent, which sent out missionaries around the world in the 19th century, is full of people who have never heard of the faith, he said. The Methodist theologian from Kenya was addressing the WCC’s commission on Faith and Order taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "In many places today we can no longer assume the religious, much less Christian, awareness which existed 20 years ago", Kobia said. The commission’s moderator, the African theologian David Yemba, pointed to the explosive church growth in Africa. The number of Christian had jumped from 144 million in 1970 to 367 million in the year 2000, according to a survey by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Statistics released by the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva show that the number of Lutherans in Africa has risen by nine percent over the last two years while numbers in Europe and North America are falling. Yemba criticized that the churches of the northern hemisphere are exerting too much influence on the South. He described Christians in the so-called Third World as "the church of the third millennium".

SoCal City Leaders Step Up to the Plate for Nat'l Motto, Mountaintop Cross
Allie Martin and Jody Brown, Agape Press

A city councilman from Oceanside, California, is encouraging other believers who hold public office to take an uncompromising stand for God. Earlier this month, the Oceanside City Council voted unanimously to add the phrase "In God We Trust" to their city seal.  The decision, described as "courageous" by a California-based religious freedom legal group, came almost two years after the move had first been considered.  Oceanside councilman Jack Feller proposed the addition as a way to acknowledge the nation's godly heritage -- and he encourages other elected officials to take similar action and not worry about the repercussions. "People who hear [about] this should tell their councils that this has never been overturned once it's been voted on," Feller says.  "So they don't have to worry about the ACLU or these groups coming after them, and they should be proud to be putting God back in this country." Earlier this week, another Southern California city saw its city council decide to allow the local citizenry to decide the fate of an historic religious landmark.  In a 5-3 decision, the San Diego City Council rejected a settlement offer to move the 43-foot cross from Mount Soledad; in addition, the vote places the issue on the local ballot.