Wednesday, May 28, 2008

28 May 2008

Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] Appeals Court Considers State Responsible for Illegally Strip-Searching Children

[2] South Carolina Principal Resigns Due to High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club

[3] Daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman Killed in Tragic Accident

[4] Algerian Court Pressures Woman to Renounce Christ

[5] Westminster Seminary California News Now Comes to You

[6] Colorado Legislation 'Tramples Religious Freedoms'


Corrections: The 21 May 2008 Presbyterians Week item Presbyterian Pastor Arrested on Prostitution Charge” included the Chicago Tribune’s since-corrected reference to the PCUSA’s Presbytery of Chicago. The correct reference was the PCA’s Chicago Metro Presbytery.

Additionally, the correct spelling of the subject pastor’s surname is “Haltom”.

[1]Appeals Court Considers State Responsible for Illegally Strip-Searching Children

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of two Wisconsin children who were strip-searched by a state social worker at a private Christian school. The court unanimously ruled that the social worker, Dana Gresbach, violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the children to be free from an unreasonable search.

The eight-year-old boy, his nine-year-old sister and their parents are represented by Stephen Crampton, Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Council, and Wisconsin attorney Michael D. Dean.

The court held the social worker personally responsible for violating the students' rights because the law in this area is so clear that she should have known her actions were unconstitutional. Although the school principal allowed the social worker to interview the students, that permission was not the same as consent to a physical search.

Gresbach was an employee of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, which was previously found to have violated the constitutional rights of a child at a private Christian school, and also the rights of the school and the child’s parents under remarkably similar circumstances. Crampton and Dean also represented the parents in that case.

+ Liberty Council, Post Office Box 540774, Orlando, Florida 32854, 800-671-1776

[2] South Carolina Principal Resigns Due to High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club

Michael Baggot reports that principal Eddie Walker of Irmo High School in Columbia, South Carolina has gained national attention after announcing his resignation on Wednesday in response to his school’s decision to approve a “Gay-Straight Alliance Club” (GSAC).

“Allowing the formation of this club on our campus conflicts with my professional beliefs and religious convictions,” wrote Walker in a letter to Lexington-Richland School District Five officials.

Walker also contended that the GSAC would conflict with the goals of the school’s abstinence education program.

Walker also agreed to continue as principle during the 2008-2009 school year, in fidelity to his previous commitment to the school.

“In my opinion failure to fulfill my contract would constitute a breach of trust with School District Five of Lexington and Richland County, my student heroes, returning Irmo High School employees, and new employees who have chosen to work at Irmo High school for the 2008-2009 school year.”

+, Inc., Post Office Box 25382, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania15220-3514

[3] Daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman Killed in Tragic Accident

According to an Associated Press report, the family of contemporary Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman suffered a horrible tragedy 21 May 2008 when their 5-year-old daughter Maria was struck and killed by an SUV in her own driveway. Deepening their loss is the fact that the Toyota Land Cruiser was driven by Maria's older teenage brother, who apparently did not see his little sister.

Maria is one of three daughters Chapman and his wife Mary Beth have adopted from China. The couple has been very active in promoting international adoption, having created a ministerial foundation called Shaohannah's Hope to financially assist couples in the process, the AP reports.

Chapman is a winner of five Grammys and 51 Dove awards.

+, Salem Communications, 4880 Santa Rosa Road,Camerillo, California, 805-987-0400

[4] Algerian Court Pressures Woman to Renounce Christ

An Algerian public prosecutor has demanded a three-year sentence for a convert to Christianity in western Algeria for practicing her faith “without license.”

Habiba Kouider, 35, was plucked off an inter-city bus outside of her home town of Tiaret on March 29 when police found several Bibles and books on Christianity in her hand bag. Held for 24 hours and interrogated by police regarding her conversion, Kouider was eventually brought before a state prosecutor.

“You reinstate Islam and I will [drop the case]; if you persist in sin you will undergo the lightning of justice,” the prosecutor told her, according to French daily Le Figaro.

Passed in February 2006, a law governing non-Muslim worship has been cited in a number of arrests and trials of Algerian Christians this year. The law, known as Ordinance 06-03, outlaws proselytism of Muslims, as well as the distribution, production and storing of material used for this purpose.

A total of 10 Christians visiting or residing in Tiaret have been detainedor tried on religious grounds since January. More than half of the country’s 50 Protestant churches, many of which meet in homes, have been ordered to close down.

“For several months a there has been a hunt for Algerians who converted to Christianity,” wrote el Watan columnist Taybe Belghiche on 22 May 2008. He said that Kouider’s case was one example of the hunt, which he described as a violation of freedom of worship enshrined in the constitution.

+ Compass Direct News Service, Post Office Box 27250, Santa AnaCalifornia 92799, 949-862-0304

[5] Westminster Seminary California News Now Comes to You

Westminster Seminary California information technologist Adam Claus has made available a free news feed for Google, Yahoo, and other blog readers.

+ Westminster Seminary California, 1725 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido, California 92027, 888-480-8474

[6] Colorado Legislation 'Tramples Religious Freedoms'

Jennifer Mesko writes that the next time you visit Colorado, you may run into members of the opposite sex when you use a public restroom.

Under a bill sitting on Gov. Bill Ritter's desk, all "public accommodations"must be open to men, women, bisexuals, transsexuals and "transgendered" individuals.

Senate Bill 200 adds religion and sexual orientation to state nondiscrimination statutes. Supporters claim the bill will prevent discrimination; in reality, the bill endangers religious freedom by opening the door for the state to punish any person or organization — including small and home-based businesses — that refuses, for religious or other moral reasons, to offer or sell goods or services to homosexuals, bisexuals, 'transgendered' and transsexual individuals.

SB 200 would apply to all "public accommodations" in Colorado — including gender-specific public restrooms in shopping malls and movie theaters, and public locker rooms in athletic facilities, which would suddenly be required to permit equal access to men, women and cross-dressers. Churches, mosques and synagogues would be exempt.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action says, "SB 200 threatens public safety and tramples religious freedoms," he said. "This bill needs to be vetoed and sent back to the Legislature with instructions to come back next session with something that all Coloradans can be proud of."

+ Focus on the Family Action, Inc., 8605 Explorer Drive Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920, 866-655-4545


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

21 May 2008

Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] Confessing Movement Calls UCC to Suspend Dialogue on Race

[2] RPTS Hires Dr. George C. Scipione to Establish New Biblical Counseling Institute

[3] Presbyterian Pastor Arrested on Prostitution Charge

[4] Dr. Dobson's Response to California Supreme Court Decision

[5] UC Berkeley Staff Face Lawsuit Over Pro-Evolution Bias

[6] Alliance Defense Fund Helps Pastors Reclaim the Pulpit

[1] Confessing Movement Calls UCC to Suspend Dialogue on Race

The Biblical Witness Fellowship (BWF), a confessing movement in the United Church of Christ (UCC), issued a press release on 14 May calling on UCC leadership to suspend plans to initiate a church wide “dialogue on race,” scheduled to begin 18 May.

BWF charges UCC leadership with damaging the candidacy of Barack Obama, in support of UCC Pastor Jeremiah Wright, by refocusing attention on racial division in a way that, sadly, energized racism in the nation.” BWF calls on the UCC not to compound this error by engaging in ‘dialogue’ on the pain of the past or the issues that divide.

“Now is the time to authenticate the unity that begins with personal transformation through faith in Jesus Christ. Only when we die to ourselves and receive life in Jesus Christ do we become a people of one blood, one name, one character, one history and one future. We call on the United Church of Christ to live our Christ-given unity in repentance and humility rather than presume to dialogue about race.

+ Biblical Witness Fellowship, c/o Clifford & Associates, 4150 Belden Village St. NW Suite 601, Canton, Ohio 44718

[2] RPTS Hires Dr. George C. Scipione to Establish New Biblical Counseling Institute

The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) in Pittsburgh announces the hire of Dr. George C. Scipione to establish and be the director of its Biblical Counseling Institute.

Scipione will also serve as adjunct professor of pastoral theology and expand the seminary's counseling course offerings.

+ Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 7418 Penn Avenue,Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15208-2594, 866-778-7338

[3] Presbyterian Pastor Arrested on Prostitution Charge

Rev. Phillip Haltom, 52, of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Hinsdale,Illinois was arrested in an online undercover prostitution sting the week of 4 May.

Haltom’s future role within the church is being considered by the Chicago Metro Presbytery and Trinity church leaders.

Haltom is scheduled to appear at the Kane County courthouse on 22 May.

+ Chicago Tribune, 435 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611-4041

[4] Dr. Dobson's Response to California Supreme Court Decision

Focus on the Family founder and Chairman James C. Dobson, Ph.D., on 15 May issued a statement in response to a California Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in that state.

Dobson writes, four imperious and unelected justices have just overridden the will of the voters. In 2000, Proposition 22 defined marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman; the initiative passed by an overwhelming margin of 61 to 39 percent. That emphatic expression of the will of the people has now arrogantly been declared null and void.

“In so doing, the justices have undermined and endangered the basic building block of society, which has been honored and preserved in every nation on earth through most of human history. What an outrage. It will be up to the people of California to preserve traditional marriage by passing a constitutional amendment in the November elections. Only then can they protect themselves from this latest example of judicial tyranny.”

+ Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80995

[5] UC Berkeley Staff Face Lawsuit Over Pro-Evolution Bias

Alexander J. Sheffrin reports that staff members at the University of California-Berkeley are being sued in court over a pro-evolution Web site, hosted by the school’s science program, that ridicules religious denominations that do not agree with evolution.

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a religious liberties group, claims that the Web site – which was designed with $500,000 in federal backing –endorses religious views that support evolution while deriding those that do not, thus constituting an illegal and public endorsement of religion by the university.

PJI President Brad Davis emphasized that the case was a clear situation of viewpoint discrimination.

“Government actions that demean a group's faith clearly express state hostility toward religion and must be contested,” he said.

The lawsuit, which was originally filed by PJI in 2005 and dismissed because of what judges said was a “lack in standing,” will be reviewed this week by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

+ The Christian Post, National Press Building, 529 14th Street NW, Suite 420, Washington DC 20045, 202-347-7734

[6] Alliance Defense Fund Helps Pastors Reclaim the Pulpit

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has launched the Pulpit Initiative to help pastors take back their First Amendment rights to discuss political candidates from the pulpit.

ADF is equipping pastors nationwide to deliver a sermon Sunday, Sept. 28 —Pulpit Freedom Sunday — that will challenge Internal Revenue Service (IRS) restrictions prohibiting pastors from engaging their congregations in politics.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said the IRS rule, which threatens to remove a church’s tax-exempt status, is an unconstitutional restriction on religious expression.

“It's time for the government to stop making laws and regulations that violate the free-speech rights of churches and ministers,” he said, “and for liberal secular groups to stop making a living out of bullying people of faith from standing up for righteousness in our government and our public officials.

+ Alliance Defense Fund, 15100 North 90th Street, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260