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