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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 3, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 3, 2006

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

  • ECUSA's Incoming Leader: Jesus Not the Only Way, Homosexuality Not a Choice
  • Indonesia Tries to Halt Religious Terrorism
  • Church Calls for Action over Gruesome Violence toward Christians in Iraq
  • Report: $1.3M for Church-Starting Misused by Texas Baptists

ECUSA's Incoming Leader: Homosexuality Not a Choice, Jesus Not the Only Way

She says she doesn't consider Jesus Christ to be the only way to God. She says she believes God makes some people "gay." And, reports AgapePress, she's soon to be the leader of a mainline Protestant denomination in America. In an interview this week with Associated Press, Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori -- who is to be installed on Saturday as the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA -- stated that Christians should not say that Jesus is the only way to God. "If we insist we know the one way to God," she said, "we've put God in a very small box." Jefferts-Schori says she disagrees with the idea that salvation comes only through trusting in Jesus Christ, but instead salvation comes as the healing of all Creation through holy living. On the issue of homosexuality, the Episcopal Church has been embroiled for years in a debate over the ordination of homosexual clergy and "blessing" ceremonies for same-sex couples. Jefferts-Schori supports both, and told AP that she does not believe the Bible condemns "committed" homosexual relationships. God, she says, made some people "gay."

Indonesia Tries to Halt Religious Terrorism

Indonesian police on Wednesday named 26 new suspects in religiously-motivated attacks in restive Central Sulawesi province, the scene of massive violence between Christians and Muslims in recent years, the Bangkok Post reports. "We are hunting down 26 more suspects for their involvement in a series of terror attacks in Poso and Palu," national police spokesman Anton Bahrul Alam told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa), referring to the troubled provincial district and its capital. He said police rushed to distribute photographs of the wanted men, adding, "We want them to surrender quickly." Earlier this week, police arrested 15 other people in connection with violence. In early 2001, Muslim and Christian religious leaders signed a government-sponsored peace accord aimed at ending the conflict, but sporadic violence continues. Although the vast majority of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslim, about half of Central Sulawesi's population is Christian.

Church Calls for Action over Gruesome Violence toward Christians in Iraq

Soaring violence against Christians in Iraq – including the alleged crucifixion of a teenage boy in Basra - has prompted the Catholic Church to call for a safe haven to protect minority groups as the country slides toward civil war, according to the website This is London. The American Catholic bishops have also asked US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to grant asylum to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians who have fled their homes to escape persecution. They told her that they were deeply alarmed by the "rapidly deteriorating situation of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq". John Pontifex of the British branch of Aid to the Church in Need, a charity set up to help persecuted Christians, said he was aware of reports of the crucifixion of a Christian boy in Basra in October, but had not details. He said he also agreed with the US bishops' assessment of the situation in Iraq. "What we are now witnessing in Iraq is a vicious attempt to wipe Christianity from the face of a country," he said yesterday. "Beheadings, killings, arrests and torture, it is the stuff of nightmares, an era every bit as cruel as the persecution of Christians in Roman times."

Report: $1.3M for Church-Starting Misused by Texas Baptists

Over a million dollars in church-starting funds from a Baptist Convention were misused, an investigation uncovered, and some of the church starts never even existed, The Christian Post reports. Three pastors in the Baptist General Convention of Texas misused more than $1.3 million given for 258 church starts and directed the monetary support elsewhere, according to the Associated Baptist Press. While irregularities in the church-starting program were known, the misused funds were not discovered until a recent five-month investigation. The three pastors - Otto Arango, Aaron De La Torre and Armando Vera - had reported 258 church starts. The investigation, however, revealed that about 98 percent of the church starts no longer exist or never existed except on paper. Between 1999 and 2005, the pastors used the start-up funds for book printing, other ministry work, and a general missions fund rather than specified church starts.