Religion Today Summaries, October 16, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, October 16, 2003

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

  • Kilgore's Support of Non-Discrimination Pledge Puzzles Christians
  • Emergency Meeting of Anglican Leaders Begin
  • Colombian Christians Consider Prospects for Peace
  • Laotian Christian Murdered

Kilgore's Support of Non-Discrimination Pledge Puzzles Christians
Agape Press

A Virginia pro-family advocate says the attorney general of that state claims to be a conservative Christian but is not demonstrating it through his actions.  Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, a Republican, has joined Governor Mark Warner and Lt. Governor Tim Kaine -- both liberal Democrats -- in signing a "non-discrimination pledge" to homosexuals.  Joe Glover, president of the Family Policy Network, says the pledge is a clever public relations stunt by homosexual activists, and Kilgore has fallen for it.  "A lot of people are going to be surprised upon hearing that Jerry Kilgore has signed this pledge because they believe him to be a conservative Christian," Glover says.  "He goes to a conservative Baptist church in Richmond, and often identifies himself with conservative causes."  The pro-family leader says Kilgore's pledge that he will not discriminate on the basis of private sexual immorality should leave conservative Christians "scratching their heads ... wondering when the conservative Christian nature of [Kilgore] is going to come out."  Glover says a conservative Christian does not support giving persons special status based on their choice to engage in immoral behavior.

Emergency Meeting of Anglican Leaders Begins
David Anderson, Religion News Service

The leaders of the world's 77 million Anglicans gathered at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday for two days of closed meetings to see if they can find a way to resolve without schism disputes over the election of a gay bishop and blessings of same-sex marriage. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, called the meeting of the primates in August following the U.S. Episcopal Church's election of the openly gay Rev. V. Gene Robinson to be bishop of New Hampshire. Conservatives, led by the Anglican Church in Nigeria, have condemned the U.S. church's action as well as a decision by the Bishop of New Westminster, in Vancouver, to approve a liturgy for use in blessing same-sex unions.  In the United States, the conservative American Anglican Council, announced they will no longer financially support the Episcopal Church and may leave the denomination. U.S. conservatives want Williams to declare the Episcopal Church "out of communion." The closed meeting began with prayers and Bible study and then each of the 37 primates was given five minutes to make a statement. Despite the calls for action from the conservatives, however, the decentralized, non-hierarchical nature of the Anglican Communion makes its very difficult to impose discipline on dioceses and provinces that are essentially autonomous. A statement is expected to be released on Thursday.

Colombian Christians Consider Prospects for Peace
Compass Direct

Many Colombians credit President Álvaro Uribe with notable success in the war on drugs and the campaign against rebel insurgents during his first year in office. Some evangelical leaders say their lives have changed for the better. "The government has taken back control over the highways," a veteran Urabá pastor said. "Pastors are now able to go from one place to another, and the church is doing a good work." However, churches that minister to the poor, reach out to refugees displaced by the fighting or raise their voices against human rights abuse say they face greater risk of being mistaken for guerrilla sympathizers. Church leaders hold differing views, as well, on an amnesty plan Uribe hopes will entice 13,000 AUC paramilitaries to demobilize. Christian leaders do staunchly agree on one point: the gospel must play a key role in building a durable peace. "I believe the church holds the answer for Colombia," said human rights worker Ricardo Esquivia. "Only through the message of Jesus and His church can changes come."

Laotian Christian Murdered
Charisma News Service

A Christian who enthusiastically shared his faith was recently murdered in Laos. The believer identified only as Sompong was found dead after he left Vernkan village with a police officer who had arrested him years before because of his faith. Sompong became a Christian while visiting Thailand several years ago. Upon returning to Vernkan, he frequently shared the gospel. His father, a nonbeliever and former military officer, warned him not to be so enthusiastic about his faith. In 1999, Sompong and 10 other believers from the Attapue and Champasak provinces were arrested for practicing what is considered an illegal religion. Sompong was released 18 months later. While in prison, he reportedly witnessed to other prisoners and officers. After his release, he continued to practice his faith. Before the death of Sompong, Christians in Keng village had received verbal and written death threats. But when international pressure caused Lao officials to back off, some Christians believe authorities turned their attention to Vernkan village, where Sompong was the only believer. "As a result, many Christians in southern Laos now fear that similar attacks will take place among them," said Christian Aid Mission officials, who urged believers worldwide to pray earnestly for the safety and well-being of Lao Christians.