Religion Today Summaries - July 4, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 4, 2006

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

  • Court in India Temporarily Restores EMI Licenses, Bank Accounts
  • Local 'Leeway' on Homosexual Clergy Bad News for PCUSA, Says Pastor
  • Plea from Inside Gaza
  • Barrows: Billy Graham Plans to Preach Again

Court in India Temporarily Restores EMI Licenses, Bank Accounts

Compass Direct reports the Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday (June 28) temporarily restored the registrations of five institutions run by Christian charity Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) and restored access to their bank accounts. Judges will review the decision at a judicial hearing on Tuesday (July 4). Additionally, last week state social welfare minister Madan Dilawar announced to local media that his department would take charge of all five institutions; EMI’s attorney said such a takeover would be illegal and unconstitutional, as was Dilawar’s threat itself and the presence of government staff at the orphanage. Dilawar came to EMI’s orphanage last Saturday (June 24) and inspected the premises. He also gave pictures of Hindu gods to some of the children and encouraged them to worship these images. An EMI worker, James Abraham, wrote to Kota district officials alleging that social welfare officer Dinesh Rajpurohit also visited the orphanage with several members of an extremist group, the Matantaran Virodhi Manch or Anti-Conversion Front, on June 21. “They [the extremists] went straight into the girls’ hostel and into their rooms without knocking on their doors,” Abraham said. “They also passed obscene remarks.”

Local 'Leeway' on Homosexual Clergy Bad News for PCUSA, Says Pastor

A conservative minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) is denouncing the denomination's move to permit the ordination of homosexuals under certain circumstances, AgapePress reports. The PCUSA General Assembly recently voted to keep its ordination standards, but gave permission to local churches to disobey those standards which prohibit clergy from engaging in extramarital sex. It approved a new policy that allows local congregations and regional church bodies to approve the ordination of homosexuals on a case-by-case basis. That new "authoritative interpretation" was contained in a controversial report from the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church. Pastor Parker T. Williamson, executive director of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, explains that under the new policy, it is now possible for Presbyterians to become ministers even if they openly engage in homosexual or heterosexual adultery. "It is possible," he explains, "because the General Assembly has allowed them to take a pass on that standard. So, in effect, the General Assembly has declared the seventh commandment optional. I think that's tragic."

Plea from Inside Gaza

Dr. Hanna Massad pastors Gaza Baptist Church - the only evangelical church in the Gaza Strip - while his wife, Suhad, runs the Palestinian Bible Society Bookstore. The church is located in the heart of several terrorist group headquarters as it carries out its Christian Mission to Gaza. Via ASSIST News Service, Pastor Massad sends an urgent message: “Many people in Gaza are without water and electricity. The food supply is limited, and there is no gas... This time we are going through is a very tough time. It is one of the worst times we have had in Gaza. We continue to hear the noise of bombing almost 24 hours a day... This has caused damage in many homes. Even the ceiling inside our church fell down. We are very concerned about our children. It is causing psychological problems, not only for children but for many adults as well. Sometimes, we are not able to meet, and we have to cancel our meetings, especially the children’s ministry. The last few days have been very difficult for me, where I felt the spirit of fear and desperation. But yesterday and today, I felt more of the presence of God in the midst of darkness. I need more and more of His presence and power in order to minister to my people the message of hope and peace. We have only one way. We chose to live for Him and reflect his love to the Palestinian people."

Barrows: Billy Graham Plans to Preach Again

According to The Christian Post the Rev. Billy Graham isn't finished preaching. His associate of more than 60 years, Cliff Barrows, says the 87-year-old Graham plans to preach at Franklin Graham's Festival in Baltimore July 7-9. Barrows and Graham's grandson, the Reverend Will Graham, accepted an honorary statue of the legendary evangelist at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting. Barrows said the third member of the Billy Graham team, 97-year-old George Beverly Shea, also plans to participate in the Baltimore festival.