Religion Today Summaries - June 30, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 30, 2008

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

  • Evangelicals May Not Vote in November
  • PCUSA Battle over Property Heat Up
  • Off the Terror List, North Korea Still Threatens Believers
  • Church Convicts Pa. Bishop of Cover-Up

Evangelicals May Not Vote in November

Instead of taking his cues from President George W. Bush's campaigns, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has largely ignored the religious conservatives that are so critical to Republican campaigns, reports the Associated Press. "I don't know that McCain's campaign realizes they cannot win without evangelicals," said David Domke, a professor of communication at the University of Washington who studies religion and politics. "What you see with McCain is just a real struggle to find his footing with evangelicals." Concerns over his record on abortion rights and other moderate topics have left him with ground to recover, while Senator Barack Obama has begun actively courting evangelicals. "A lot of evangelicals would rather take a defeat than to vote for a candidate they don't trust," Domke said. If evangelicals stay home on election day, Domke predicts McCain will stay in the Senate.

PCUSA Battle over Property Heat Up

The Christian Post reports that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved a $2 million fund that would cover legal fees against congregations that secede from the denomination and want to keep their church property. Increasing numbers of congregations have left the denomination over theological differences such as church authority. Many have joined smaller and more conservative Presbyterian groups. Court battles over church properties have incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs, which have exceeded the budgets of several regional presbyteries. PC(USA) leaders accuse smaller denominations such as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of soliciting churches, which the EPC has denied. The Rev. Steve Bryant of Grace Chapel in Madison, Miss., which left the PC(USA) in 2007 for the EPC, said, "We weren't proselytized: We were adopted," he said during EPC's General Assembly last weekend.

Off the Terror List, North Korea Still Threatens Believers

Mission News Network reports that although North Korea's cooperation in dismantling its nuclear facilities appears to be good news, human rights group are not convinced. Jeff King, President of International Christian Concern, a Christian human rights watch-dog group, said, "The first thing that comes to mind is 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.' North Korea has a history of fooling us." King does not believe this means positive change for North Korean Christians. "Christians in North Korea suffer incredibly. If you are a Christian and you're caught with a Bible, three generations can be put into prison. So you would be put in prison, your children would be put in prison and your parents would be put in prison." King says Christians not only are imprisoned, but they're beaten, tortured, and executed.

Church Convicts Pa. Bishop of Cover-Up

The Associated Press reports that an Episcopal bishop was found guilty of covering up his brother's abuse of a teenage girl throughout the 1970s. Charles E. Bennison Jr., 64, was convicted of two counts of engaging in conduct unbecoming of a member of the clergy by a church panel. He could be reprimanded, suspended or even ousted from the church. "We are proud of the Episcopal Church for holding Bishop Bennison accountable, and for using an open and transparent process that allowed the truth to come to light," church attorney Lawrence White said in a statement Thursday. The victim, now 50, testified that the bishop's brother, John Bennison, assaulted her three to four times a week for several years. She testified that Charles Bennison accidentally witnessed several of the incidents that occurred in the church itself in 1973. The bishop said he heard rumors and confronted his brother, but kept quiet to protect the girl and the church from scandal.