Religion Today Summaries - March 3, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 3, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.


In today's edition:

Falwell Denies Jerusalem Post Story, Says Jews Do Need Christ


Denying a Jerusalem Post story that said he had embraced a “dual covenant” theology, Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell said that he believes all people, including Jews, “must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to enter heaven,” the Baptist Press reports. “I do not follow this teaching of ‘dual covenant’ theology and I believe it runs counter to the Gospel,” Falwell said in a statement. "I have been on record all 54 years of my ministry as being opposed to ‘dual covenant' theology.” Rejected by orthodox theologians, dual covenant theology holds that Jews are saved through a special, unique relationship with God and need not trust in Christ for salvation. The Jerusalem Post story, published March 1, said that pastor John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg – both from Texas – had “apparently persuaded” Falwell to adopt a dual covenant belief system. The story quoted only Scheinberg and did not quote Falwell. “Falwell has altered his position, according to Scheinberg, apparently because the pastor decided to put End of Days theology aside in favor of the overriding need to support Israel, particularly against the mounting threat of a nuclear Iran,” the story, authored by Ilam Chaim, said. The story noted that dual covenant theology “runs counter to mainstream evangelism.”


Benedict XVI Tells of Christian's Three Weapons against Hatred


Prayer, fasting and penance are a Christian's weapons against hatred, Benedict XVI explained in an Ash Wednesday homily. The Pope said that Lent reminds us: "that Christian life is a constant battle. To struggle against evil, against all forms of egoism and hatred, and to die to oneself to live in God, is the ascetic path that every disciple of Christ is called to undertake with humility and patience, with generosity and perseverance. The docile following of the divine Teacher makes Christians witnesses and apostles of peace. We can say that this interior attitude helps us also to underline better what the Christian response should be to the violence that threatens peace in the world. It is certainly not vengeance, hatred and even less so refuge in a false spiritualism. The response of the one who follows Christ is rather to undertake the path that he chose who, in the face of the evils of his time and of all times, embraced the cross with determination, following the longer but more effective path of love.” Benedict XVI pointed out that "in the encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I wished to present this love as the secret of our personal and ecclesial conversion…. Concrete love is one of the essential elements of the life of Christians, whom Jesus encourages to be light of the world”


Religion in China Still Restricted, Rights Group Says


A Reuters news story quotes a human rights group which said on Wednesday that one year after China introduced new regulations on religious rights, freedom to worship remains restricted. The rules that took effect in March 2005 enshrine religious belief as a basic right of all citizens, but China still forbids worship outside designated religious organizations, fearing the growth of groups that could challenge Communist Party rule. "Local officials continue to repress religious activities that they determine to be outside the scope of the state-controlled religious system," the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement. The 2005 regulations were deliberately vague, it added. Catholics who worship outside the state-backed Catholic Patriotic Association, Muslim Uighurs and Tibetan Buddhists are among those that risk punishment for practicing their religions. Protestant house churches are also a target. In November, a Chinese court sentenced a Protestant minister, his wife and her brother to prison terms of up to three years for illegally printing Bibles and other Christian publications. Such printings require approval from the State Bureau of Religious Affairs and Bibles cannot be bought openly at bookshops.


Former Intern Sues Ex-Employer after Being Fired for Sharing Her Faith


A former graduate student at California State University-Long Beach claims she lost an internship because she is a Christian and unwilling to hide her faith. Jacqueline Escobar has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), where she interned in hopes of completing her master's degree in social work. Escobar claims she was terminated from her internship position for refusing to refrain from sharing her faith with co-workers during her lunch break. Her attorney, Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), sees her case as a clear-cut example of religious discrimination. PJI has filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Children and Family Services on the young woman's behalf. The attorney notes that California State-Long Beach was going to expel Escobar from her graduate program after DCFS terminated her internship. However, he says PJI convinced the university to allow the graduate student to intern with another employer instead. "No employee, particularly one working for a public employer, should ever be fired or let go simply because they share their faith or discuss their faith during break time or during lunch time," Dacus said, adding that he hopes Escobar's suit will set a strong precedent for similar cases in the United States involving hostility toward Christian employees or attempts to deny individuals' religious freedom in the workplace.