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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 1, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 1, 2007

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

  • Methodist Council Allows Transgendered Minister to Keep Job
  • Pro-Sharia Rebels Threaten Pakistani Christians
  • “Jesus in Prime Time” Conference Exposes Flaws in Portrayal of Christianity
  • 'Islamophobia' Used to Crush Muslim Dissent, Panel Says

Methodist Council Allows Transgendered Minister to Keep Job

FOX News reports that a council of the United Methodist Church has decided to allow a transgender minister to retain his job, but it stopped short of addressing whether a change of gender violates the denomination's rules. At a session over the weekend in San Francisco, the United Methodist Judicial Council considered whether to remove the Rev. Drew Phoenix from his post. The council allowed Phoenix to stay on the job, referring to a church policy stating that a clergyperson in good standing can't be terminated unless there has been administrative or judicial action, "The adjective placed in front of the noun 'clergyperson' does not matter," the council ruled.

Pro-Sharia Rebels Threaten Pakistani Christians

Compass Direct News reports that Islamic militants threatened to bomb a Christian family for refusing to convert to Islam as fighting between militants and government troops resumed in northwestern Pakistan yesterday. “Become Muslim – otherwise, we are going to destroy your house with bombs,” an anonymous caller told a Swat Christian family last night. A tiny Christian community in North West Frontier Province has reported increasing pressure to conform to Islamic law in recent months. Since July, followers of Muslim cleric Maulana Fazlullah have worked to enforce Islamic law (sharia) in much of Swat Valley, prompting clashes with government troops this week.

“Jesus in Prime Time” Conference Exposes Flaws in Portrayal of Christianity

According to ASSIST News Service, scholars and journalists tried to bridge the gap between the Church and portrayals of Christianity in the media at the “Jesus in Prime Time” conference Monday at Dallas Theological Seminary. “The Church is pretty good at handling the Bible, but really bad at handling the culture,” Dr. Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary said. Bock added that only a handful of the hundreds of interviews he has given were not conducted professionally. But the Church, he said, needs to do a better job of engaging the media and the culture at large. Journalists had their own explanations for the gap between the Church and the media. “They don’t like nuance on TV, just black and white, good guy and bad guy,” said Peggy Wehmeyer-Woods, host of “The World Vision Report” on radio and a former ABC-TV reporter. Dr. Ben Witherington of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., said that popular culture is “haunted” by Jesus but is biblically illiterate.

'Islamophobia' Used to Crush Muslim Dissent, Panel Says

CNSNews.com reports that Muslim extremists are branding opponents "Islamophobes" in an effort to paint themselves as the victim and silence dissent and opposition to their political and religious beliefs, according to a panel convened in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. "'Islamophobia' has become... the new battleground in this war" on terrorism, Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, said at the panel discussion. She said the term "inverts victim and perpetrator" by portraying Islamic fanatics as the victim, thus allowing them to label dissent as a violation of human rights and, in effect, silence dissent. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) at the United Nations has been lobbying hard for bans against "Islamaphobia, which are "tantamount to blasphemy strictures that have been used to curtail freedoms of expression, press, and religion by some of the OIC's most repressive member states," noted the Hudson Institute in its preview to the panel discussion.