Friday Religion Briefs

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

Pro-Bush Vigils to Continue

( - A national faith-based organization that organized weeks of sustained election prayer included fasts, round-the-clock vigils and a gathering at the steps of the Supreme Court is urging its supporters to let up in their efforts. After Vice President Al Gore conceded Wednesday President-elect George W. Bush, evangelist Billy Graham urged people to continue praying and to follow the "gracious example of reconciliation" Gore and Bush modeled in their addresses to the nation. Graham said that he had followed the election contest the last few weeks with "growing concern about the division among the people of our country."

Investors Challenge AT and T Porn Business

( - Investors are raising a challenge to AT and T's pornography business. Eight investment groups with religious ties have filed a resolution seeking a report reviewing the telecom giant's policies. The move follows AT and T's decision to offer the Hot Network on its cable service. The British investment news website "The Register" reported the protestors control an influential one-point-six-million shares of company stock, and their resolution, requiring a report by next May, was reportedly prompted by "serious concern... on both social and financial grounds" about the porn link. The action is being spearheaded by Mennonite Mutual Aid.

Texan Offers Photo-Op With Jesus Christ

( - Christian holiday revelers who think a photograph with Santa Clause fails to capture the true meaning of Christmas, one entrepreneur is offering an option - a picture with Jesus Christ. Joel Lagrone, a bearded engineer from Bedford, Texas, wears a long robe and sandals for the photo. Lagrone also serves as a deacon at Glenview Baptist Church and poses holiday pictures with visitors in special public photo sessions. He told the "Fort Worth Star-Telegram" that it's an outgrowth of his performance ministry, in which he portrays Christ.

Christian Booksellers 'Left Behind' on Video Sales

( - The unexpected success of "Left Behind-The Movie," the film version of the best-selling end-of-times thriller, has caused an upset in the Christian bookselling world and prompted an apology from the makers. Cloud Ten Pictures predicts that by the end of the year, they will have shipped two-million copies of the video. But the film's runaway success has left some Christian booksellers angry and disappointed. Secular outlets buying in bulk have been able to undercut them and sell the video at highly discounted prices. The problems have left Cloud Ten co-producer Peter Lalonde "wishing we could hit rewind." He wrote in a letter to Christian booksellers published in the latest issue of "Christian Retailing" that "ironically, it seems that our greatest success has also become one of our worst failures."

Turkmenistan Officials Evict Minister, Family from Home

( - A pastor and his family have been evicted from their home in Turkmenistan after being forced to sign the property over to local government officials. "Compass Direct" reported Shokhrat Piriyev, his wife and two children, were pressured into leaving their home after threats from security police. Two other families in Piriyev's church have been put under house arrest and could also lose their homes.

Religious History for December 15

687 - Saint Sergius, the First begins his reign as Catholic Pope.

1558 - Dutch Anabaptist reformer Menno Simons wrote in a letter, 'Wherever there is a pulverized and penitent heart, there grace also is, and wherever there is a voluntary confession not gained by pressure, there love covereth a multitude of sins.'

1629 - In England, proto-Baptist Minister and the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, married Mary Barnard, the daughter of a Puritan clergyman. Two years later, he and his wife sailed from Bristol to Massachusetts.

1739 - English revivalist George Whitefield wrote in a letter, 'My brother, entreat the Lord that I may grow in grace, and pick up the fragments of my time, that not a moment of it may be lost.'

1957 - British apologist C.S. Lewis wrote in a letter, 'May it please the Lord unimpaired may strengthen us, contrition soften us and peace make us joyful.'

1990 - More than 400 American Roman Catholic theologians charged that the Vatican had been throttling church reforms and imposing "an excessive Roman centralization." They contended that the Vatican had undercut a greater role for women, slowed the ecumenical drive for Christian unity and undermined the collegial functioning of national conferences of bishops.