Religion Today Summaries, June 24, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, June 24, 2004

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

  • Groups Emphasizing Importance of Evangelical Vote in Election 2004 
  • Christian Groups Mobilize Supporters for Marriage Amendment Debate
  • University Denies Christian Club Registered Status
  • London's Premier Christian Radio Goes National

Groups Emphasizing Importance of Evangelical Vote in Election 2004
Sherrie Black and Allie Martin, Agape Press

America's 50 million Evangelicals are being urged to vote -- and an official with the Southern Baptist Convention is urging them to vote their values, not their pocketbooks. A draft of the National Association of Evangelicals' document For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civil Responsibility has stirred controversy.  Guidelines in the document urge Evangelicals to vote biblically on issues like poverty, abortion, stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage. An earlier version of the document reported in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times said "Evangelicals must guard against over-identifying Christian social goals with a single political party."  But that sentence produced enough inquiries to the NAE that the drafters revised it to now read that Evangelicals "must be careful not to equate Christian faith with partisan politics." Christianity Today editor David Neff notes that only half of the voters in American who identify themselves as evangelical Christians participated in the 2000 election, nearly keeping President Bush out of the White House.  And Bush's re-election campaign is heavily courting the nation's Evangelical vote, hiring Ralph Reed, known for his work with the Christian Coalition of America. An arm of the Southern Baptist Convention is doing its part to get out the Evangelical vote.  The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is spearheading an initiative known as to educate voters and register new voters. The initiative features a website that offers voters a comparison of the presidential candidates' values on issues such as abortion, stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, and the public display of the Ten Commandments.

Christian Groups Mobilize Supporters for Marriage Amendment Debate
Charisma News Service

Several Christian groups are urging supporters to deluge their senators with petitions, calls, letters and faxes to ensure an early vote for the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage -- a measure the U.S. Senate will take up next. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist scheduled a debate for the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) the week of July 12. If 60 senators vote "yes" at the close of the debate, the bill will come for a full vote to the Senate on or about July 15. The Center for Reclaiming America (CRA), established by Presbyterian pastor D. James Kennedy, has contacted Senate offices to determine the senators' positions on the FMA. "Contact your senators and encourage them to become a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment," the CRA Web site encouraged constituents. In addition, a pro-family group said thousands of churches are expected to participate in "Marriage Protection Sunday" on July 11, followed with "Call Your Senator Day" on July 12. The American Family Association is urging pastors "to lift up the God-ordained institution of marriage in their sermons" on July 11 and "to present the serious threat which homosexual marriage presents." President Bush has urged Congress to move on the amendment, although sponsors admit the difficulty of getting the two-thirds majority to approve it.

University Denies Christian Club Registered Status
Agape Press

Penn State University says it already has "too many" Christian clubs and has denied recognition of a new one -- resulting in a lawsuit being filed against the school, alleging the action violates First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.  In April, the Disciplemakers Christian Fellowship applied for registered status on the Penn State campus.  But the university official who approves religious student groups refused the Disciplemakers' request, saying there were "too many [Christian] groups anyway and they were beginning to compete" and that the new group failed to show it is sufficiently "unique" from existing religious campus clubs to warrant the recognition. The Center for Law & Religious Freedom, which filed the lawsuit, says the university is on "constitutional quicksand" when it assigns one person the task of deciding whether one group of Christians has a different message from another.  A spokesman for the Center says the school's "uniqueness requirement" is just another form of discrimination against religious views Penn State wishes to discourage.  The school currently recognizes more than 600 different student clubs.

London's Premier Christian Radio Goes National
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

London's Premier Christian Radio is going national in the United Kingdom. The station has been allocated a channel on the free-to-air digital service Freeview. This means that Premier - once a London-only station - will now be available in a huge number of homes nationwide. Anyone with a Freeview set-top box, or an integrated digital television will now be able to receive the service. At a special event organized to commemorate the station's ninth birthday on June 22nd, managing director Peter Kerridge revealed the news to supporters and friends of Premier. The station could then begin broadcasting on the platform as early as September. "We're tremendously excited to announce that we've had the green light to start broadcasting on Freeview," said Peter.  "Although we have been broadcasting nationally for some time on Sky Digital, NTL and the Internet, we feel that this step is potentially the biggest in our history. Now, for a one-off cost, Christians across the UK will be able to receive Premier's mix of life-changing words and inspirational music. For the first time Christian radio is available across the land at a price most people can afford." He continued: "We will be altering the sound of the station somewhat to give it a more national feel, and reflect the interests and concerns of the Christian community in Britain."