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Religion Today Summaries - October 20, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 20, 2004

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

  • Falwell Questions Grounds for Evangelical Support of 'Pro-Choice' Candidate - Part I
  • Preacher's 'Elect Jesus Christ Savior' Campaign Billboard Ad Criticized
  • Philly's Educ. Head Determined to Allow Faith a Role in Students' Lives 
  • India: Three Gospel for Asia Native Missionaries Released

Falwell Questions Grounds for Evangelical Support of 'Pro-Choice' Candidate - Part I
Allie Martin and Jody Brown, AgapePress

The founder of the Moral Majority says Christians need to vote their convictions and should not blindly support any political party. During the final presidential debate last week, Senator John Kerry spoke about his faith.  And throughout the last four year, President George W. Bush has made no attempt to hide his faith in Christ.  But Christian activist Dr. Jerry Falwell says there are stark contrasts between the two presidential candidates when it comes to faith. Speaking on Fox News, Falwell said he did not know how an evangelical Christian could support the Massachusetts senator. "I don't know how anybody who takes the Bible seriously and who professes a new birth experience with Christ ... could vote for John Kerry when he's pro-choice, is not for the Federal Marriage Amendment, [and] is not willing to stand up for those basic, fundamental faith and family issues," Falwell stated. And although Kerry has said he believes life begins at conception, Falwell is convinced the senator is not the candidate for family values. Lest anyone accuse him of just supporting the Republican Party, Falwell said he has voted for Democrats in the past who based their policies on scripture.  But he does not believe Kerry would use God's Word to develop his policies.

Preacher's 'Elect Jesus Christ Savior' Campaign Billboard Ad Criticized
Charisma News Service

A Baptist preacher has been criticized for a campaign billboard ad that invokes the name of Jesus while asking voters to re-elect him as councilman of a Kentucky community. Installed last Thursday in Lexington, the billboard proclaims "Elect Jesus Christ Savior," and includes a box stating "Jacques Wigginton for Council," the Associated Press reported. Wigginton said the sign is intended to endorse and support the "Elect Jesus" campaign, a local initiative that he started to promote faith and community involvement, not to advocate his own candidacy. But his opponent, Tom Blues, said the councilman appears to be likening himself to Christ. Wigginton said he's shocked that the billboard has been interpreted as an attempt to compare himself to Jesus. In designing the billboard, he said he placed an emphasis on making the "Wigginton for Council" box as small as possible. Local election officials said any campaign ad asking people to vote for a certain candidate needs a "paid for by" disclaimer. The Elect Jesus billboard has two "paid for by" disclaimers. One said: "Paid for by Grace and the Blood of the Lamb. Holy Ghost, Treasurer." The other said: "Paid for by Wigginton for Council. Tassa and Jacques Wigginton, Treasurer." Wigginton created the Elect Jesus campaign because "what people need today is Jesus," the Herald-Leader reported. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Philly's Educ. Head Determined to Allow Faith a Role in Students' Lives
Jim Brown, AgapePress

The head of Philadelphia's public schools is defending his efforts to forge closer ties with faith-based groups in the city.  He says religious leaders can help with tutoring, mentoring, counseling, and organizing faith-based clubs -- and can do so without violating the Constitution. In May, Paul Vallas invited churches to start gospel choirs and prayer clubs.  Last year, the district sponsored a back-to-school meeting with speeches and prayers by clergy.  The Anti-Defamation League and Americans United for Separation of Church and State claim the ties could be illegal. But the CEO for the School District of Philadelphia says he will keep working with faith-based groups as long as Philadelphia's schools are plagued by violence and other behavioral problems. Religious groups, the educator maintains, can connect students in the Philadelphia school district to the community service projects they are required to perform in order to graduate.  And Vallas says voluntary activities led by ministers, rabbis, and other clergy members are perfectly constitutional. Pennsylvania law allows students to be released from school 36 hours a year for purposes of practicing their faith or taking part in faith-based activities. Prior to coming to Philadelphia, Vallas served as CEO of Chicago Public Schools.  During his six-year tenure there, he transformed the nation's third largest school system from what was thought of as "the worst in the country" to "a model for the nation."

India: Three Gospel for Asia Native Missionaries Released
Charisma News Service

In what leaders called "a miraculous turn of events," three Gospel for Asia (GfA) native missionaries who were abducted and threatened with death by anti-Christian militants have been released. Unless they were paid a ransom the equivalent of $550, the militants had threatened to kill pastor Manrathan, his wife and a woman named Sarita for "desecrating a village with the gospel" in the impoverished northeastern state of Bihar, Assist News Service (ANS) reported. The trio were "severely beaten and tied to a sacred tree" by the group, since Sept. 9, noted GfA president K.P. Yohannan in a message to his supporters. But the missionaries were released recently. "We are so grateful for how the Lord has answered the prayers of thousands of believers worldwide," Yohannan said. However, he stressed that many other Indian Christians "continue to face opposition, persecution, imprisonment and even death for the sake of Jesus." Several GfA missionaries reportedly have been killed in recent years. (http://www.charismanow.com)