Religion Today Summaries, November 18, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, November 18, 2003

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

  • Florida Episcopal Bishop Resigns Posts in Protest of Gay N.H. Bishop

  • Pastors Decry City's Ban on 'Jesus Prayers' for Meetings

  • Bishop Steps Up Attacks on the Gospel

  • Christian Legal Group Helps Georgia Church in Dispute Over Building Permit

Florida Episcopal Bishop Resigns Posts in Protest of Gay N.H. Bishop
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

The Episcopal bishop of Orlando, Fla., has said he will no longer play an active role in the church's House of Bishops after a majority of prelates voted to endorse an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. Bishop John Howe of Central Florida resigned his seats on the bishops' theology and pastoral letter committees, but will remain a member of the bishops conference. "I have no interest in trying to speak for a House that has abandoned any recognizable commitment to the authority of Holy Scripture," he wrote in a letter to the church's top leader, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. Griswold voted with 61 other bishops to confirm the election of Coadjutor Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is openly gay. Howe voted against Robinson and said the bishops who supported Robinson must resign, including Griswold. "It grieves me to think this, let alone say it, for I have honored and trusted you," Howe wrote. "But I believe you have betrayed that trust." Howe said the church's approval of an openly gay bishop has "betrayed tens of thousands of loyal Episcopalians, bewildered the Christian world and grieved the Holy Spirit." Howe, a leader of the church's evangelical wing, said he would remain a member of the House of Bishops, but "I even question the value of attending any more meetings" because "I believe they have become manipulative and duplicitous."

Pastors Decry City's Ban on 'Jesus Prayers' for Meetings
Charisma News Service

Some pastors in a Florida community are unhappy over a recent decision by city officials to ban prayers at public meetings that mention Jesus' name. Last month, the Pompano Beach Public Commission switched to religion-neutral invocations before public meetings after resident Sherry Scharf complained, saying she resented "being blessed in the name of Jesus Christ.” The commission had a long-standing prayer tradition in which most invocations were delivered by pastors who invoked Jesus' name. City spokeswoman Sandra King said the policy change was partly "a precautionary measure" to avoid a lawsuit. But John Mohorn, pastor of Word of the Living God Ministries, said he likely would boycott giving invocations at city hall. "There's no way you can pray without using the name," he said. "I have accepted Him as Lord and Savior, and I will not deny Him for nobody." Gary McCloud, pastor of Mount Sinai Baptist Church of Pompano Beach, gave what was the last invocation "in Jesus' name" on Oct. 14. "It's kind of sad," he said. "I feel that the same way [Scharf] voiced her opinion, I have a right to voice mine. I didn't like her comment [that] we were forcing my religion on her. She's forcing now her opinion on everyone else, and as a result we see what happened."

Bishop Steps Up Attacks on the Gospel
Compass Direct

Bishop Ding, the most influential leader of the state-controlled Chinese “Three Self” Protestant church, has significantly stepped up his anti-Christian “theological construction” campaign in recent months. A lecture delivered at the East China Theological Seminary in Shanghai entitled “Theological Construction Enters a New Stage” (published in Tianfeng magazine in September 2003) clearly shows that “theological construction” is a smoke screen for an attack on the beliefs of Bible-believing Chinese evangelicals. Critical of 19th century missionaries who came to China for “linking the question of belief and unbelief with heaven and hell,” Ding insists that such beliefs intimidate people. “We Chinese Christians must unite with all the people of China and not be disunited with other people because they do not believe,” he states. “We must remold Chinese Christianity to become a Christianity which … will be welcomed by the Chinese Communist Party and is compatible with socialism.”

Christian Legal Group Helps Georgia Church in Dispute Over Building Permit
Agape Press

A federal district court in Atlanta sided with a church which had been denied a building permit to build a facility in Henry County, Georgia. The AFA Center for Law & Policy (CLP) represented Victory Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in the litigation. Officials of the church claimed they had been denied a conditional use permit to build in Henry County because it is an African-American church, arguing that numerous predominantly white churches in the area had received conditional use permits from the county. The lawsuit also alleged that the county had violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person's Act, a powerful federal law that protects churches against discrimination. Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney for the Law Center, said, "At last, the leadership and congregation of Victory [Tabernacle] can go forward with their plans to build in Henry County and serve the community there. It is important that churches are informed of their rights." Attorney Ted Echols, who served as local counsel in the case, said he was very pleased with the outcome. In addition to ordering the county to issue Victory Tabernacle the permit to build its church facility, Echols said "the county has been ordered to pay our client's significant damages and attorney's fees."