Religion Today Summaries, October 3, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, October 3, 2003

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

  • English Catholic Bishops Criticize Government's Same-Sex Proposal
  • Christian Group Rallies Support for Effort to 'Take America Back'
  • Baptists Could Face 'Crisis' with Donations Drop
  • Pro-Life Legislation Delayed

English Catholic Bishops Criticize Government's Same-Sex Proposal
Robert Nowell, Religion News Service

The British government's proposals to create civil partnerships for same-sex couples have been strongly opposed by the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales.  Instead, the bishops said, the government should concentrate on the "very much bigger issue" of the lack of rights enjoyed by cohabiting heterosexual couples and their children.  The proposals have, however, been welcomed by the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. The caucus said the new proposals begin to move the country away from seeing a stable same-sex relationship as merely a private contract toward giving it a public status.  But the bishops said the government's proposals would not promote the public good because "they would in the long term serve to undermine marriage and the family." What is proposed for same-sex couples would send the signal that "marriage as husband and wife, and a same-sex relationship, are equally valid options, and an equally valid context for the upbringing of children," English and Welsh bishops said.  The bishops concluded by stressing that the church's teaching is that homosexual people were to be "accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity" and added: "Sadly, this is still not always the reality either in our society or in the church, and we must all continue to work to achieve it."

Christian Group Rallies Support for Effort to 'Take America Back'
Bill Fancher, Agape Press

The Christian Coalition of America has launched a campaign aimed at restoring the values upon which the United States was founded. Coalition president Roberta Combs says the new campaign is called "Let's Take America Back." She claims the effort is a necessary response to the "dark, sinister forces" that she believes are at work in the nation and presently getting the upper hand. According to Combs, in the first 300 years of America's history the nation was a "magnificent beacon of hope for all the world." However, the coalition spokeswoman says things have changed in recent decades. "Secular fundamentalists have been using the media and our nation's court system in an effort to erase all evidence that America was founded by Christians," she says. During a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday, Combs announced Take America Back as an effort to bring an end to the "judicial tyranny" that circuit courts have used to attack the Ten Commandments, religious free speech, the Pledge of Allegiance, and other expressions of faith in God. Several Congressmen joined Combs to talk about pending legislation that they say will help protect religious expression and believers' right to acknowledge God.

Baptists Could Face 'Crisis' with Donations Drop
Charisma News Service

The nation's largest Protestant denomination could face a "crisis" within a few years unless churchgoers start giving more money to the denomination. According to a report by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) funding study committee, giving by church members decreased steadily from 1968 to 1998 as a percentage of their earnings, down to 2.03 percent. The percentage of donations forwarded from churches to the SBC's Cooperative Program - which funds missions, seminaries and state Baptist convention ministries - has dropped to 7.4 percent of church income. The lack of Cooperative Program funds already has forced postponement of 100 missionary deployments, job eliminations at mission boards and tuition increases at the six Southern Baptist seminaries, the report said. "It is the opinion of the committee none of the entities are in a financial crisis at present," the report said. "However, all of them are experiencing trends in their fiscal health that could degenerate into a crisis in very few years." The report cited several possible causes for the downturn in financial support: increased local church expenditures and greater emphasis on their own missions; the belief that SBC ministries have enough money; and concerns Cooperative Program funds aren't spent efficiently and effectively. Another theory is that "political infighting has led to decreased satisfaction with the denomination."

Pro-Life Legislation Delayed
Agape Press

An important piece of pro-life legislation that protects hospitals from being forced to offer abortions may not see action in Congress until sometime next year.  The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act clarifies federal law to say that health-care providers cannot be forced to offer abortion services.  Douglas Johnson with the National Right to Life Committee tells Family News In Focus that the bill is being delayed by other vital pro-life legislation.  "There's just so much room on the track, so to speak, and we've been meeting a lot of resistance on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act -- and there were a bunch of important reasons why they had to be done first," he says.  So the bill, which has passed the House once already, will now likely be pushed into next year.  Johnson says the major fight will be in the Senate.