Religion Today Summaries -- May 11, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries -- May 11, 2004

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

  • Presbyterian Church Overruled Conviction of Pastor for Marrying Same-Sex Couples
  • Sharia Laws To Be Enforced on Nigerian Christians
  • Christian Fired for Biblical Stand on Homosexuality Wins Lawsuit
  • Religious Movies Are the Coming Trend

Presbyterian Church Overruled Conviction of Pastor for Marrying Same-Sex Couples
Agape Press

A Presbyterian Church (USA) commission has ruled that "marrying" same-sex couples is permissible, despite a lower court's previous ruling to the contrary. This latest decision, released Friday, overturned the earlier conviction of Pastor Stephen A. Van Kuiken for performing homosexual "marriages" in his Cincinnati parish. According to a LifeSite Daily News report, the Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) of the Synod of the Covenant said that the Presbytery of Cincinnati was wrong to convict and formally rebuke the pastor for solemnizing the same-sex weddings. The commission's vote was 6-4, with the majority stating, "At issue is the tension in the Book of Order between the spirit and the letter of the law," a tension that "reflects the church's current place in history and its ongoing struggle with the issues of human sexuality." Meanwhile, the four dissenters criticized the judgment in their opinion, calling it "an improper and unjustified attempt to rewrite the clear and unambiguous meaning of ... the Book of Order."

Sharia Laws To Be Enforced on Nigerian Christians
International Christian Concern

Lawmakers in a mostly Islamic Kano State in Nigeria have passed a law calling for Muslims to be whipped and Christians to be jailed if they are caught drinking alcohol. The law calls for Muslims to be whipped with "eighty strokes of the cane." In the five years since the end of military rule in Nigeria, the implementation of Islamic Sharia laws in northern Nigeria -- including stonings and amputations -- has sparked repeated religious clashes killing thousands. Christian church leaders have distanced themselves from the killings, blaming them on rogue criminal elements. More than 10,000 people have been killed in ethnic, religious and political violence in Africa's most populous country since President Olusegun Obasanjo was first elected in 1999, ending 15 years of repressive military rule. Much of the violence has occurred between rival Christian and Muslim factions in Kano and other cities after a dozen northern states began implementing Islamic Shariah law in late 1999.

Christian Fired for Biblical Stand on Homosexuality Wins Lawsuit
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A Denver man has been awarded more than $140,000 in a civil rights lawsuit he filed against communications giant AT&T over its diversity policy. Albert Buonanno was described as a model employee by his supervisors at AT&T Broadband, where he worked from January 1999 to February 2001, but was fired after he refused to sign off on portions of the company's diversity policy that dealt with homosexuality. Buonanno, a Christian, said he had no intention of discriminating against homosexuals, but told his employer he could not in good conscience sign anything indicating his agreement with the wording of the diversity policy. As a result, the company fired Buonanno. He later sued his former employers, arguing that they had discriminated against him for his religious beliefs. A federal judge recently decided in his favor, ruling that AT&T had indeed discriminated against the Christian worker. The Rutherford Institute represented Buonanno in the lawsuit, and his attorney believes his client's victory was largely due to his integrity -- the very quality that made it impossible for him to sign off on the diversity policy in the first place. "He never said anything derogatory; he just could not agree with it," the attorney says.

Religious Movies Are the Coming Trend
Wolfgang Polzer, ASSIT News Service

Movies with religious content are the coming trend according to the officer for radio, television and films of the Mainline Protestant Churches in Germany, Rev. Bernd Merz. After the success of movies like The Passion of the Christ and Luther, Hollywood producers are looking for more similar material, said Merz in an interview. The trend is not just an American one. "People are seeking their religious roots and open for the Christian message", commented Merz. The secret of Luther's success in Germany with three million viewers lies in the combination of good entertainment and faith education. Merz also commented on the fact that The Passion had a comparatively weak response in Germany with 1.3 million viewers. Rather than being the result of warnings of potential anti-Semitism in Mel Gibson's movie, Merz believes that the film's brutal scenes caught the German audience off guard. Another factor could be the different religious climate in secularized Europe from the United States "with millions of pious Americans."