Religion Today Summaries - June 15, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff | Thursday, June 15, 2006

Religion Today Summaries - June 15, 2006

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

  • Religious Leaders Urge U.S. to Ban Torture
  • Baptist Pastors Urged to Maintain Focus Amidst Controversy
  • Protestants Say Papacy Will Increase Divisions
  • Robinson to Urge Rejection of Episcopal Gay Moratorium

Religious Leaders Urge U.S. to Ban Torture

The Washington Post reports that twenty-seven religious leaders, including Rick Warren, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, have signed a statement urging the United States to "abolish torture now -- without exceptions." The statement, being published in newspaper advertisements, is the opening salvo of a new organization called the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which has formed in response to allegations of human rights abuse at U.S. detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Titled "Torture is a Moral Issue," the statement says that torture "violates the basic dignity of the human person" and "contradicts our nation's most cherished values."

Baptist Pastors Urged to Maintain Focus Amidst Controversy

The day before their denomination's annual business meeting convened, pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention were encouraged to keep an eternal and unselfish perspective when sharing the good news of Christ, and to not allow disagreements in the denomination to distract believers from more important issues. AgapePress reports the pastors heard a word of advice from the widow of one of the SBC's most beloved pastors, Dr. Adrian Rogers. Speaking at the SBC Pastors' Conference on Monday (June 12), Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, said too many Christians today are like survivors of the Titanic who would not turn back in their half-empty lifeboats to save the drowning. Evans called for a new emphasis on saving the lost, saying pastors and church members must be willing to take risks to win some for Christ. Christians, he said, must refocus their energy and efforts on eternity. "When you number your days and understand that I am in the world of the dying, on my way to the world of the living, all of a sudden making your time matter for eternity [is important]," Evan stated.

Protestants Say Papacy Will Increase Divisions

An appeal by Pope Benedict XVI for non-Catholic Christians to recognize papal primacy risks reinforcing divisions between churches, says an Italian Protestant theologian. Spero News reports that on 7 June, Pope Benedict asserted that Jesus himself had entrusted the leadership of the Church to his apostle Peter. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Pope has a leading role among Christians because as bishop of Rome he is successor to Peter. However, Professor Fulvio Ferrario of the Protestant Waldensian theological faculty in Rome insisted the idea of such a "Petrine succession" was "completely alien" to the New Testament. "Recent biblical research acknowledges that Peter had a special role among the group of disciples," Ferrario said. "But this concerns Peter, not Benedict XVI. The papacy risks becoming a factor of division more than of unity, something that ecumenical dialogue has to take into account."

Robinson to Urge Rejection of Episcopal Gay Moratorium

Openly-gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson told The Associated Press that it is unlikely the Episcopal church's top policymaking body will create new barriers for homosexual clergy despite turmoil over his 2003 consecration. The Episcopal General Convention, which runs through June 21 in Columbus, must vote on whether to stop electing gay bishops for now so the embattled Anglican family can stay together. "Most Episcopalians think that God's gay and lesbian children are every bit as worthwhile as the rest of God's children and they won't be willing to sacrifice gays and lesbians on the altar of unity," Robinson said. Joined by national gay rights activists, Robinson planned Wednesday to publicly urge the convention to reject the moratorium on gay bishops and any discrimination based on sexual orientation. The majority of Anglican archbishops believe gay relationships violate Scripture and have been pressuring Americans to adhere to that teaching.