Religion Today Summaries - June 3, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 3, 2008

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

  • UK: Church Bemoans 'Poor Quality' of Vicars
  • Algeria Defends Prosecution of Convert
  • Obama Quits Trinity Church
  • Rick Warren Joins Interfaith Group

UK: Church Bemoans 'Poor Quality' of Vicars

A self-report by the Church of England found "serious concerns" at the top of the Church hierarchy over the quality of its clergy, the UK Telegraph reported. A survey of diocesan bishops found that one-third believe that more than half of current clergy - which could be as many as 6,000 - cannot handle job demands. Ninety percent said that a third of new clergy do not have the necessary gifts and abilities for the calling. The report suggested the problem is primarily because of looser ordination standards due to an increase in vacant posts, which may be due to poor pay. The report suggests reviewing ordination standards and selection criteria, as well as a pay review and training for preaching performance. “Truthfully, it is deeply depressing," one bishop said.

Algeria Defends Prosecution of Convert

ASSIST News Service reports that Algerian official charged Protestant evangelicals with secretly trying to divide Algerians to colonize the mainly Muslim north African country. Abu Amrane Chikh, head of the government-appointed Higher Islamic Council, said uproar in the West over a recent prosecution of an Algerian woman on a charge of practicing Christianity was being heightened for the benefit of foreigners. Reuters reported Chikh added, “The evangelist movement is characterized by a secret activity that violates the Koran and the Sunna in one way or another.” Reuters reported that Chikh said in Habiba Kouider’s situation, Algeria was concerned to ensure respect for a provision in the 2006 law that forbids non-Muslims from seeking to convert Muslims. Chikh added, “There is no movement opposed to Christians as alleged by some tendentious minds. It is only about respecting Islam in a Muslim country, just as one must respect the Christian religion in a Christian state.”

Obama Quits Trinity Church

After another episode of divisive remarks came from the pulpit, presidential candidate Barack Obama has resigned his 20-year membership at Trinity United Church in Chicago. According to, Obama said, "This is not a decision I come to lightly ... and it is one I make with some sadness," Obama said at a news conference. He refused to denounce the church and said the decision to leave was a personal one. "It's clear that now that I'm a candidate for president, every time something is said in the church by anyone associated with Trinity, including guest pastors, the remarks will imputed to me even if they totally conflict with my long-held views, statements and principles," he said. The decision came shortly after visiting priest Michael Pfleger mocked Obama's rival Hillary Clinton.

Rick Warren Joins Interfaith Group

The Associated Press reports that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday that world leaders must work to end religious conflict or face "catastrophe" as he introduced a new interfaith foundation. The Tony Blair Faith Foundation will fight extremism in all religions while organizing groups to fight poverty and illness, he said. Blair recently converted to Roman Catholicism. His foundation has already received tens of millions of dollars in donations and pledges, according to one Blair representative. The group's advisory council includes evangelical megapastor and author Rick Warren, who with his wife, Kay, advocates for HIV/AIDS victims worldwide.