Religion Today Summaries, July 9, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 9, 2003

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

  • 'Recall Gray Davis' Campaign Gains Enough Signatures, Supporters Say

  • Muslim Tensions Rise and Churches Burn in Kenya

  • Ken Connor Resigns at Family Research Council

  • American Bible Society Redirects Focus After Layoffs

'Recall Gray Davis' Campaign Gains Enough Signatures, Supporters Say
Michael Foust, Baptist News Press

The effort to remove California Gov. Gray Davis from office passed a hurdle July 7 when recall supporters announced they had more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Officials with Rescue California said Davis, a Democrat, is considered by social conservatives one of the more socially liberal and pro-homosexual rights governors in the country. If enough signatures are validated, Californians will go to the polls to vote either to keep Davis or to boot him. Much of the criticism of Davis has focused on the state's financial woes. Others have pointed to his strong ties with homosexual activists. The Campaign for California Families lists on its website more than 15 pro-homosexual bills Davis has signed. "I know everybody's ranting and raving about the money [problems]," said Rob Zinn, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church and first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. "My concern is the moral issue." Zinn said he is very "concerned over the homosexual agenda that's getting pushed in California." Zinn said he fears that the radical homosexual agenda in California will eventually filter down to the rest of the country. Randy Thomasson, executive director of Campaign for California Families, said "[Davis] is the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality governor in California history. Because of him, parents and persons of faith have less rights than a homosexual activist in California."

Muslim Tensions Rise and Churches Burn in Kenya
Elizabeth Kendal, Assist News Service

On 13 June, Muslims rioting over the arrest of one of their clerics torched five churches in Bura, Tana River district, in Kenya. Of great concern to Christians in Kenya is the fact that no one has been charged over the burning of the churches. Christian leaders are still waiting to see if the arsonists will receive justice or impunity. As impunity equals permission, this is a serious issue of national significance at a time when Muslim tensions are rising to boiling point. The Reverend Simon Mungumba, the Assistant Chairman of the Bura Pastors' Fellowship, wrote a report of the incident. On the previous evening officers were stoned by youths, forcing them to retreat into their vehicle. The local Muslim youths had been visiting a preacher in town. This 'visiting preacher', Sheikh Khalifa Mutiso, is a former Christian pastor who now preaches aggressively against Christianity, with offensive and obscene messages that "border on incitement." When he was arrested, Muslim rioters stoned the police station and commenced burning and looting the churches, while others chanted, "release our sheikh, we want him to continue preaching." Christians are calling on the Kenyan government to investigate the incident and compensate the churches that have lost their buildings. This incident is only one of several issues raising the heat between Christians and Muslims.

Ken Connor Resigns at Family Research Council
Baptist News Press

Family Research Council President Ken Connor is leaving his post with one of Washington's leading pro-family organizations. Connor's resignation, which he announced July 3, will take effect July 14. He had been FRC's president for three years. "This was not an easy decision but one that for both professional and personal reasons I believed I needed to make," Connor said in a written statement. "After the summer, I look forward to returning to the courtroom and practicing law." Connor was a trial attorney in Florida before taking the FRC job. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and a FRC board member, called Connor a "fighter for the family and an exemplary leader" for the organization. "During his time at FRC, Ken consistently put principle before politics, and that's a rare thing to find in Washington, D.C.," Dobson said in a written release. Prior to Connor, Gary Bauer served as FRC's president for more than 10 years. Bauer left the organization before running for the Republican nomination for president in 2000.

American Bible Society Redirects Focus After Layoffs
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service

The American Bible Society, long known for its distribution of Scripture resources, is redirecting its focus specifically to the nation's youth and cutting back on its publishing efforts. Denise London, the society's associate vice president for communications, said that the changes have resulted in the elimination of about 80 staffers. "What we did was we tried to ramp down so that we had positions that could actually be applied to our new direction," London said in an interview. She said the changes were due in part to the economic factors that "every nonprofit has experienced." While maintaining some of its history of Bible distribution, London said the New York-based society will deliver Scriptures in new ways especially to young people. "We felt there are a lot of underserved youth in the United States," she said. "They're underserved and unchurched." The 188-year-old society recently sponsored a Christian hip-hop concert in Indianapolis and is considering such products as Scripture-based CDs and virtual-reality games. London said the society will continue to use its Good News Translation and Contemporary English Version of the Bible in its new efforts. While reducing its funding of the United Bible Societies, the society hopes to enhance partnerships with U.S. churches, she said.