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Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 27, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 27, 2009

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

  • Church Registration in Vietnam Inches Along
  • Faith Leaders Divided over Passage of Hate Crimes Bill
  • In Parish of Slain N.J. Pastor, Talk of Forgiveness
  • Man Charged with Killing Ill. Pastor Ruled Unfit for Trial

Church Registration in Vietnam Inches Along

Compass Direct News reports that the Assemblies of God (AoG) in Vietnam have received an "operating license," which the government described as "the first step . . .before becoming officially legal." This operating license, officially given on Oct. 19, gives permission for all of the congregations of the Vietnam AoG to "carry on religious activity" anywhere in the country for the next year. During this time the church body must prepare a doctrinal statement, a constitution and bylaws and a four-year working plan to be approved by the government before being allowed to hold an organizing assembly. The operating license is the first one granted since five were granted two years ago. The last of those five churches, the Christian Fellowship Church, was finally allowed to hold its organizing assembly in late September. Only about 10 percent of the many hundreds of applications have received a favorable reply, they said, leaving most house churches vulnerable to arbitrary harassment or worse.

Faith Leaders Divided over Passage of Hate Crimes Bill

Religion News Service reports that religious leaders both hailed and criticized the passage of a hate crimes bill designed to better protect gay and transgendered people. By a vote of 68-29, the Senate passed the provision, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, as part of a larger 2010 defense authorization bill on Thursday. Progressive Christian leaders hailed the bill, while conservative Christian leaders criticized it, saying that it might limit the rights of clergy to speak against homosexuality. "This hate crimes provision is part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

In Parish of Slain N.J. Pastor, Talk of Forgiveness

The New York Times reports that parishioners on Sunday remembered both the slain and the slayer kindly at a Chatham, New Jersey church. St. Patrick Church's janitor, Jose Feliciano, confessed to killing the Rev. Edward Hinds on Thursday evening after the two argued. "We pray in a very special way for Jose, a prayer of hope and consolation," said the Rev. Owen Moran, who celebrated the Masses. "The Father Ed we know would forgive Jose. Father Ed probably did forgive him before he died." Feliciano's two children are both enrolled in the church's school. "They have a very important place in the community of St. Patrick's, and they always will," Moran said during one Mass. "They are innocent victims of this. This is their parish."

Man Charged with Killing Ill. Pastor Ruled Unfit for Trial

Religion News Service reports that the man charged with killing an Illinois pastor as he preached at a Sunday service is mentally unfit to stand trial. On Oct. 20, Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli made the ruling after a psychologist who performed a court-ordered examination said Terry Sedlacek was schizophrenic, the Associated Press reported. Sedlacek was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery after the March 8 shooting that killed the Rev. Fred Winters in his pulpit. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. Tognarelli has placed Sedlacek in the custody of the state Department of Human Services, which is required to report within a month whether it is likely that Sedlacek's mental capacity for a trial will improve within the next year.