Religion Today Summaries - June 23, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 23, 2008

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

  • Algeria: Evangelist Says Police, Others Targeting Him
  • Conservative Anglicans Move to Jerusalem, Release Book Detailing Crisis
  • PCUSA Considers Same-Sex Marriage Issue
  • Gideons Win Florida Case

Algeria: Evangelist Says Police, Others Targeting Him

Compass Direct News reports that a court yesterday postponed until next Wednesday a hearing in west Algeria for a church leader on trial for evangelism. Already convicted of evangelism and blasphemy in two separate cases this year, Rachid Muhammad Essaghir, 37, believes he is being targeted for his work with Christians in Tiaret. The convert to Christianity, who regularly posts his telephone number on evangelistic Christian satellite TV programs, said that he has received death threats from Algerian journalist Haitham Rabani in recent months. A correspondent tracking Christianity in Algeria, Rabani told Compass that he did not threaten Essaghir but did send him text messages. At the same time, Rabani admitted threatening the host of an Al-Hayat Christian satellite talk show who is also named Rachid. “I told him, ‘If I capture you, I will kill you,’” Rabani told Compass, saying that he had not actually meant to carry out the threat.

Conservative Anglicans Move to Jerusalem, Release Book Detailing Crisis

The Christian Post reports that conservative Anglicans began their conference two days early on Thursday, as participants at the invitation-only Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) joined their leader, Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, in Jerusalem after he was unable to enter Jordan from Israel and participate in the preparatory prayer and consultation occurring there. The GAFCON participants, more than 1,000 strong, said they are not planning a formal schism, but they are releasing a book entitled “The Way, The Truth and the Life” that details the crisis facing the Anglican Communion, discusses what is at stake in the conflict, defines "authentic Anglicanism," and presents what the future holds for orthodox Anglicanism. “We have made enormous efforts since 1997 in seeking to avoid this crisis, but without success. Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act, we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Akinola writes.

PCUSA May Redefine Marriage

OneNewsNow reports that the Presbyterian Church USA included the issue of homosexual "marriage" in the agenda at its bi-annual denomination meeting this weekend in California. A motion to rewrite the church's Book of Order to allow denominational ministers to conduct wedding services would essentially rewrite the church constitution's definition of marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. Pastor Parker Williamson, a leader of conservative Presbyterians, says homosexual rights get more support from the denomination's leaders than from people in the pews. "That support from within the staff infrastructure of the denomination really does give it quite a megaphone," says Williamson. In April, the denomination's highest court found that a lesbian minister who officiated at weddings for two lesbian couples was guilty of misconduct, but gave her the lightest possible punishment.

Gideons Win Florida Case

A federal judge ruled unconstitutional a Florida law that allowed two Gideons to be arrested while handing out Bibles, according to OneNewsNow. Members of the Gideons International Key Largo Camp were distributing Bibles on a public sidewalk outside a local school when sheriff's deputies told them to leave or face arrest under a state loitering statute. That statute said a person cannot be within 500 feet of any school in Florida without either "legitimate business" or permission from the school principal. "... [A]nd what's interesting in this case is, the Gideons gave advanced notice both to the local sheriff's office and to the school themselves," says David Cortman, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore agreed and ruled the law unconstitutional because it was too "constitutionally vague" and in violation of the 14th Amendment.