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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 2, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 2, 2007

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

  • Some Christian Pastors Embrace Scientology
  • Luther’s Homeland Turns into a Mission Field
  • Christians Respond to National Adoption Month
  • Fred Phelps' Church Loses $11 Million Verdict

Some Christian Pastors Embrace Scientology

CNN reports that some Christian congregations, particularly in lower income, urban areas, are turning to an unlikely source for help -- the Church of Scientology. Why are observant Christians embracing some teachings of a controversial cult? Two pastors who spoke recently with CNN explained that when it comes to religion, they still preach the core beliefs of Christianity, but when it comes to practicing what they preach in a modern world, borrowing from Scientology helps. The Rev. Charles Kennedy, of the Glorious Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal church in Tampa, Florida, and the Rev. James McLaughlin, of the Wayman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, say they do not see Scientology as a threat to their faith, but rather as a tool to augment it. "I'm looking for solutions, and the people that I help, they don't ask me who L. Ron Hubbard is," said McLaughlin, who works with addicts. "You know what they say? 'Thank God.'"

Luther’s Homeland Turns into a Mission Field

ASSIST News Service reports that Martin Luther’s homeland has turned into a pre-Christian mission field, according to the Lutheran theologian and journalist Uwe Siemon-Netto. He is director of the Institute on Lay Vocation at the Concordia Seminary of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod in St. Louis (Missouri). At Concordia Seminary he organizes German Days with scholars from Germany and the United States reflecting on issues of faith and society, around “Reformation Day,” October 31. At the recent event Siemon-Netto – born in Leipzig in 1936 - gave a lecture on the religious situation in East Germany. Less than a quarter of the population in Luther’s homeland is still Christian. Luther’s town, Wittenberg, counts about 15 percent church members, Protestant or Catholic. The same is true for Eisleben, where Luther was born in 1483 and where he died in 1546. Siemon-Netto holds the former communist regime in East Germany responsible for the demise of Christianity. Following in the footsteps of the Nazis, the regime had systematically tried to wipe out Christianity in its realm. Eastern Germany is the most atheistic region in Europe.

Christians Respond to National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month and Cry of the Orphan is using this time to share a simple but powerful message with Christians and churches across the country - you are God’s plan for the orphan. The United Nations has identified 143 million children around the world as orphans. With so many orphans waiting for someone to reach out and help, FamilyLife, Focus on the Family and Shaohannah’s Hope (founded by award-winning musician Steven Curtis Chapman) joined together to create Cry of the Orphan, an unprecedented, unified campaign to challenge Christians and churches to get actively involved in caring for the world’s orphans. "God cares deeply about orphans," said FamilyLife's Paul Pennington, one of the leaders of the Cry of the Orphan effort. "There are more than 40 references in the Bible that demonstrate God’s heart for orphans. So to be involved in ministry to orphans is to be involved in what matters to God." The variety of opportunities for Christians and churches to help orphans include short-term mission trips to overseas orphanages, providing aid and resources to families and communities that are caring for orphans, serving as a mentor, and supporting and building orphanages, just to name a few.

Fred Phelps' Church Loses $11 Million Verdict

According to FOX News, the father of a fallen Marine was awarded nearly $11 million Wednesday in damages by a jury that found leaders of a fundamentalist church had invaded the family's privacy and inflicted emotional distress when they picketed the Marine's funeral. Albert Snyder of York, Pa. sued the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified monetary damages after members staged a demonstration at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq. The defense said it planned to appeal and one of the church's leaders, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said the members would continue their pickets of military funerals. Church members believe that U.S. deaths in the war in Iraq are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality. Westboro, called the "Church of Hate" by critics, is led by Fred Phelps who is known for preaching the mantra, "God hates fags."