Evangelical Leaders Defend Their Right to Evangelize in Pluralistic Society

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Dozens of evangelical leaders have voiced their support for a new statement declaring the right to evangelize in a pluralistic society. “The Chicago Declaration on Religious Freedom,” issued Friday (June 2), states: “Misguided or false notions of pluralism must not be allowed to jeopardize anyone’s constitutional right to evangelize or promote one’s faith.” The 21 signers and 63 initial endorsers of the two-page statement described evangelism as a “basic liberty.” “Yet confusion has arisen over the efforts of some Christian believers, ministries and denominations to make Christ known to members of other faith communities,” they wrote. “Some contend that these efforts undermine a peaceful, pluralistic society and may lead to intolerance, bigotry and even violence.” Several signers said the statement was sparked in part by a letter written last November by an interfaith group of Chicago religious leaders who asked the Southern Baptist Convention to modify plans for an evangelical campaign in their city this summer. Those leaders were concerned that Southern Baptists might seek Muslims and Jews as their “primary targets” and the campaign “could contribute to a climate conducive to hate crimes.” That language, said Richard Land, an official of the Southern Baptist Convention and a signatory, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The statement, though initiated by agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention, became a broader declaration by an interdenominational and interracial group of evangelical leaders from across the country, said Land, president of the denomination’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Evangelical Leaders Defend Their Right to Evangelize in Pluralistic Society

c. 2000 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Dozens of evangelical leaders have voiced their support for a new statement declaring the right to evangelize in a pluralistic society. “The Chicago Declaration on Religious Freedom,” issued Friday (June 2), states: “Misguided or false notions of pluralism must not be allowed to jeopardize anyone’s constitutional right to evangelize or promote one’s faith.” The 21 signers and 63 initial endorsers of the two-page statement described evangelism as a “basic liberty.” “Yet confusion has arisen over the efforts of some Christian believers, ministries and denominations to make Christ known to members of other faith communities,” they wrote. “Some contend that these efforts undermine a peaceful, pluralistic society and may lead to intolerance, bigotry and even violence.” Several signers said the statement was sparked in part by a letter written last November by an interfaith group of Chicago religious leaders who asked the Southern Baptist Convention to modify plans for an evangelical campaign in their city this summer. Those leaders were concerned that Southern Baptists might seek Muslims and Jews as their “primary targets” and the campaign “could contribute to a climate conducive to hate crimes.” That language, said Richard Land, an official of the Southern Baptist Convention and a signatory, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The statement, though initiated by agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention, became a broader declaration by an interdenominational and interracial group of evangelical leaders from across the country, said Land, president of the denomination’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

NEWS FEATURE: Papal Pilgrims From Lebanon Now Find Themselves Refugees

c. 2000 Religion News Service SAFED, Israel _ Two months ago, a contingent of 1,000 south Lebanese Christians gathered to attend a huge outdoor Mass near this town overlooking the Sea of Galilee and to greet Pope John Paul II during his pilgrimage here. Little did they imagine that they would be returning so soon _ this time not as pilgrims but as refugees. “We want to send a letter to the pope telling him of our plight,” said Shimon. Shimon, like most refugees, asked that his family name not be published for fear of reprisals against relatives left behind.

NEWS FEATURE: Papal Pilgrims From Lebanon Now Find Themselves Refugees

c. 2000 Religion News Service SAFED, Israel _ Two months ago, a contingent of 1,000 south Lebanese Christians gathered to attend a huge outdoor Mass near this town overlooking the Sea of Galilee and to greet Pope John Paul II during his pilgrimage here. Little did they imagine that they would be returning so soon _ this time not as pilgrims but as refugees. “We want to send a letter to the pope telling him of our plight,” said Shimon. Shimon, like most refugees, asked that his family name not be published for fear of reprisals against relatives left behind.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service National Council of Churches Welcomes Elian Court Decision (RNS) The National Council of Churches, which has been instrumental in trying to reunite Elian Gonzalez with his father, welcomed Thursday’s (June 1) decision by a federal appeals court that may allow the boy and his father to return to Cuba. Ever since the 6-year-old boy was found floating off the Florida coast on Thanksgiving, NCC officials have lobbied on behalf of Juan Miguel Gonzalez in his bid to regain custody of his son. The Rev. Bob Edgar, the NCC general secretary, said he only wished the decision had come sooner. “All along, we have maintained that except in cases of abuse, children are best served when they are with their parents,” Edgar said in a statement.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service National Council of Churches Welcomes Elian Court Decision (RNS) The National Council of Churches, which has been instrumental in trying to reunite Elian Gonzalez with his father, welcomed Thursday’s (June 1) decision by a federal appeals court that may allow the boy and his father to return to Cuba. Ever since the 6-year-old boy was found floating off the Florida coast on Thanksgiving, NCC officials have lobbied on behalf of Juan Miguel Gonzalez in his bid to regain custody of his son. The Rev. Bob Edgar, the NCC general secretary, said he only wished the decision had come sooner. “All along, we have maintained that except in cases of abuse, children are best served when they are with their parents,” Edgar said in a statement.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Percentage of Born-again Asian-Americans on the Rise (RNS) The percentage of Asian-Americans who can be considered born-again Christians has increased significantly in the last decade, a new Barna poll reveals. In 1991, 5 percent of Asian-Americans had made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and believed they would have eternal life because they accepted him as their savior, reports the Ventura, Calif.-based Barna Research Group. The figure increased to 27 percent in a recent poll, higher than the 23 percent figure for Hispanic-Americans. The nationwide random poll, taken of 1,002 adults in February, also found a significant shift in the growth of born-again Christians among those with higher incomes.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2000 Religion News Service Percentage of Born-again Asian-Americans on the Rise (RNS) The percentage of Asian-Americans who can be considered born-again Christians has increased significantly in the last decade, a new Barna poll reveals. In 1991, 5 percent of Asian-Americans had made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and believed they would have eternal life because they accepted him as their savior, reports the Ventura, Calif.-based Barna Research Group. The figure increased to 27 percent in a recent poll, higher than the 23 percent figure for Hispanic-Americans. The nationwide random poll, taken of 1,002 adults in February, also found a significant shift in the growth of born-again Christians among those with higher incomes.