Religion Today Summaries - May 18, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 18, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Christian Leaders Refute May 21 Rapture Prediction
  • Supreme Court Won't Hear 'So Help Me God' Case
  • Kidnappers Kill Iraqi Christian Held for Ransom
  • Billy Graham Returns Home from Hospital


Christian Leaders Refute May 21 Rapture Prediction

Harold Camping's predictions about rapture on May 21 are on the fringe of Christian circles, but plenty of evangelicals have taken time to respond to his views. “The Christian church has seen this kind of false teaching before,” said Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on his blog. He says Camping's teachings are "embarrassing" for the church and notes Jesus Christ's assertion that not even the Son of God knows the day of his return. W. Robert Godfrey, president and professor of church history at Westminster Seminary California, pointed out on the seminary’s blog, Valiant for Truth, a glaring omission from Camping’s prediction. “Camping’s teaching reaches the status of heresy in his recent appeal to the world, ‘Judgment Day,’ an eight page statement online,” Godfrey said. “The saddest and most distressing element of Camping’s latest theological statement is that it is Christless. He does not write about Christ’s return, but about judgment day." Hundreds of Camping's followers have sold their homes in preparation for the event.

Supreme Court Won't Hear 'So Help Me God' Case

The Washington Post reports that the United States Supreme Court has declined to hear an atheist's challenge to the presidential oath's use of "so help me God." The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Michael Newdow, who argued that government references to God are unconstitutional and infringe on his religious beliefs. He specifically challenged President Barack Obama for his use of the phrase, although many presidents have included "so help me God" in their inaugural oaths. Newdow previously sued to keep Obama from using the phrase and lost in appeals court, which ruled it would be useless to ban Chief Justice John Roberts from prompting the phrase, as someone else could have administered the oath.

Kidnappers Kill Iraqi Christian Held for Ransom

Christian Today reports that gunmen have killed a Christian construction worker who was kidnapped for ransom after his family failed to pay $100,000. Ashur Issa Yaqub, a 29-year-old Chaldean Christian, was abducted in the northern city of Kirkuk. Kirkuk provincial police chief Major General Jamal Taher Bakr has blamed the killing on Al-Qaeda insurgents. He told news agencies, "A police patrol found the body of the young Christian man. His head was almost completely cut off.” Yaqub's body also showed sign of torture. Christians in Iraq have fled the country in a mass exodus since 2003 due to targeted violence from extremists. About half the country's Christians have left since then.

Billy Graham Returns Home from Hospital

Evangelist Billy Graham returned home Sunday (May 15) after a five-day hospital stay for pneumonia. Religion News Service reports that Graham, 92, has regained strength after treatment with antibiotics, according to his doctors at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. "He has responded very well to treatment, with progressive improvement since his admission," said Dr. Lucian Rice, Graham's primary care physician, in a statement. "We expect continuing recuperation at home with very gradual recovery, returning to normal activities over several weeks. I'm delighted that he has come back this fast." The mostly homebound Graham has suffered from age-related ailments, including hearing loss and macular degeneration, in recent years but is in overall good health.