Wycliffe Bible Translators is in hot water over new Bible translations they have worked on that purport to avoid offending Muslims, reports WorldNetDaily. In response, many within the evangelical missions movement, as well as many former Muslim converts and indigenous Christians from countries where these translations are being used, are indignant. After numerous appeals have been rejected, a petition has been launched to call for the end to the translations. Thousands have signed up. Worldview Weekend President Brannon Howse says that his major concern is that groups that try to be culturally correct often miss the text’s meaning. “My fear is that isogesis is often used in Bible teaching and translating. Isogesis is when we bring our subjective opinion, feelings or cultural beliefs onto the text,” Howse said. “Christians, Bible teachers, and translators need to be committed to exegesis which is the study, teaching, and translating of the Word of God in context which includes using Scripture to interpret Scripture,” Howse said. Howse points out that there is a way to accomplish a cultural explanation that is sensitive to the target group, but maintain the exact wording of the text. “Thus, if there is a cultural confusion as to the meaning of a text, use the Scripture to confirm the meaning of the text to those living with in that culture. Translators can insert notes as well as cross references to assist the reader in understanding the text in context instead of relying on a cultural understanding to interpret the text. Speaking on a broader level to the issue of contextualizing; I believe a large part of contextualizing is the attempt to be politically correct. Contextualization is not preaching the Biblical gospel that transforms people living in the culture but the preaching of a politically correct gospel by people who were transformed by the culture.” Howse adds that he’s concerned that this movement is tied to a broader cultural trend that attempts to appease Muslims rather than tell them the truth of the gospel.
- Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has introduced legislation to rescind a new Obama administration rule that has produced widespread opposition to its mandate that health insurance plans cover contraceptives, including ones that can cause abortions, reports Baptist Press. The Republican senator’s response to the “contraceptive mandate” drew quick support from the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, as well as other pro-life and religious freedom organizations. Rubio’s bill would amend federal law to prevent any guidelines based on the 2010 health care reform law from requiring any person or organization to provide coverage of contraception or sterilization in violation of religious belief. Under final guidelines announced Jan. 20, the Department of Health and Human Services said the controversial 2010 law would require health plans and insurers to provide no-cost coverage of contraceptives, including those with abortion-inducing properties, and sterilizations as preventive services. The rule includes an exemption for most churches who oppose paying for such coverage on religious grounds. Critics say the religious exemption is too narrow. It will not protect the conscience rights, they say, of such faith-based organizations as schools, hospitals, and social service programs, including some churches with social service programs. The administration’s “obsession with forcing mandates on the American people has now reached a new low by violating the conscience rights and religious liberties of our people,” Rubio said in a written statement upon introducing the bill Jan. 30. “This is a common sense bill that simply says the government can’t force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so.”
- Two-thirds of Americans believe public schools should rent to churches and other community groups, according to a new study by LifeWay Research, reports Baptist Press. The study comes as a Feb. 12 deadline banning the use of New York City schools by churches approaches. Up to 160 New York City congregations that have used school buildings for worship services in the last year will be directly affected by the ban. It will be the only major city in the U.S. with such a policy. The study found that 65 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement “public schools should rent to churches and other community groups,” while 16 percent responded that schools “should rent to other community groups but not churches.” Additionally, 12 percent believe “public schools should not rent to any churches or community groups.” There is also 1 percent who believe “public schools should rent to churches but not other community groups.”
- A bill that would legalize gay marriage in Washington State has passed the Senate, clearing perhaps its biggest hurdle and moving the issue one step closer to being placed on the ballot, reports Baptist Press. The Senate had been considered the one chamber that might defeat the bill, but a majority of senators had declared their support for it heading into the Feb. 1 vote. It passed, 28–21, with the support of 24 Democrats and four Republicans. It appears to have the votes for House passage, and Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire has pledged to sign it. But opponents could have the final say. If church groups and other traditionally minded organizations can gather about 121,000 valid signatures opposing the law within 90 days of its signing, it will appear on the November ballot. In essence, voters could veto the law.
- Christians need to make a “loud statement” and boycott Starbucks for its recent support of a gay marriage bill proposed in Washington State, according to a pastor. “Starbucks is promoting sin against God,” Pastor Steven Andrew of USA Christian Ministries told The Christian Post. “I want God to bless the United States of America and God to bless Christians.” “God says homosexual marriage is an abomination and so God cannot bless that.” The author of Making a Strong Christian Nation called on believers and the church to take a stand against the international coffee company by no longer consuming the popular beverages, serving them at the church, or referring to them in sermons, following other religious organizations like Liberty Counsel, which opposed Starbucks’ position. “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” Andrew shared, referring to 2 Chronicles 19:2. “If Christians support those whom oppose God, the Bible teaches that God’s wrath is on us so the key is if we love Jesus, we’ll boycott Starbucks.”
- Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is canceling an appearance at a revival organized by prosperity gospel preacher Rod Parsley, reports thegospelcoalition.org. The year’s most talked about Christian athlete was scheduled to speak at a three-day Columbus event in March led by televangelist Parsley. In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Tebow’s brother Robbie said his brother’s speakers’ bureau hadn’t researched the event before saying yes to the invitation. “I know for a fact that Tim is not going to be a part of it,” Robbie Tebow said. Parsley pastors World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, and heads up World Harvest Ministerial Alliance. His church services and personal appearances are telecasted over TBN-TV and Daystar-TV in a program called Breakthrough. Along with his confusion about doctrines like the Trinity (‘The Holy Ghost is no different than Jesus and Jesus is no different than the Holy Ghost”), Parsley teaches that God wants believers to be wealthy. As the AP notes, last year Parsley asked followers to donate more than $1 million to ward off satanic attacks. The young quarterback understands that by speaking at the event he would be lending his credibility to men who preach a false gospel. By refusing to speak at the event, he may be able to signal to people unfamiliar with the prosperity gospel that those who believe in the true gospel should avoid publicly associating with these false teachers, said the report.
- Atheist organizations around the country have taken to billboard advertising to promote their views and organizations over the last few months, but a new campaign by one atheist organization is focusing on reaching one group of people in particular: African-Americans. “A lot of people think that if someone’s black it means that they’re religious. So we want to be able to show people that that’s not true, that there are non-religious people out there,” Debbie Goddard, director of African Americans for Humanism, told The Christian Post on Wednesday. The AAH launched an advertising campaign in late January in six major U.S. cities—New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; and Durham, N.C.—with a seventh city, Dallas, being added on Feb. 6. The campaign was designed to coincide with February’s Black History Month. Each billboard, poster, or banner that goes up says “Doubts about religion? You’re one of many” and has AAH’s website printed on it. Goddard said the organization’s primary goal in the campaign is to encourage black people who already have doubts about religion or who are already atheist but haven’t told anyone to make themselves known.
- The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation is reporting a massive uptick in fund-raising ever since the women’s health organization announced it is cutting ties with Planned Parenthood. In a conference call on Thursday, its founder, Nancy Brinker, told reporters donations to the Komen foundation have increased 100 percent over the last two days. Brinker said the organization would cease most of its funding for the abortion provider, because “wherever possible we want to grant to the provider who is actually providing the life-saving mammogram.” “Planned Parenthood does not do breast cancer treatment and does not do mammograms, contrary to what some news outlets, including Fox News, are reporting,” Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, told LifeSiteNews.com. “They just do the manual exam that women can do at home, and then they charge women for it.” In November, Komen also adopted a new policy opposing embryonic stem cell research that results in “destroying a human embryo.” However, the pressure on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to reverse its decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings for poor people—a decision which has caused an uproar among women’s groups and on social media—is about to get significantly more intense, reports The Washington Post. Nearly two dozen liberal U.S. senators are set to enter the fray.
- As more states will be voting on constitutional amendments defining marriage, polling indicates that most Minnesotans support the proposed amendment for their state. According to a poll taken by Public Policy Polling reported on Jan. 27, 48 percent of Minnesotans polled support the amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman, while 44 percent oppose. “These numbers are consistent with other polls we’ve seen, which simply show that Minnesota is deeply divided on this issue,” said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for the anti-amendment group Minnesotans United for All Families, commented to The Christian Post. News of the poll comes as the pro-amendment organization Minnesotans for Marriage reports increased support for their group. The group reported on its website that it raised $830,000 and gathered over 10,000 new supporters in 2011 for the amendment that would protect traditional marriage.
- The New York Police Department recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Shiite Muslims and their mosques, based solely on their religion, as a way to sweep the Northeast for signs of Iranian terrorists, according to interviews and a newly obtained secret police document, reports The Washington Times and AP. The document offers a rare glimpse into the thinking of NYPD intelligence officers and how, when looking for potential threats, they focused their spying efforts on mosques and Muslims. Police analysts listed a dozen mosques from central Connecticut to the Philadelphia suburbs. None has been linked to terrorism, either in the document or publicly by federal agencies.
- Police say a woman spent at least an hour reading the Bible to her attacker after he slashed her throat Wednesday night, reports the Shelby [Ohio] Star. “She even invited him to her church,” said Shelby Police Capt. Rick Stafford. “He kept saying he was sorry, and then walked away.” Lindsay Wood and her son came home from church around 8:30 p.m. The son pulled a trash can from the front yard of their house on Royster Avenue. Wood’s son told police a man he didn’t know rushed past him. He saw the man run toward the back of the house. His mother was unlocking the rear door at the same time. The man pulled out a knife, swung it, and sliced into the right side of Wood’s neck. After the attack, Wood started speaking to the man about Bible verses and church, Stafford said. Wood didn’t call 911 until 10:24 p.m., after the attacker left. Emergency medical personnel took her to Cleveland Regional Medical Center.
- President Barack Obama’s campaign for a second term in office has essentially ground governing in the White House to a halt, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) told Human Events in an exclusive interview Thursday. “Once they get the payroll tax holiday for another ten months, they basically don’t want to do anything else with us,” said McConnell, referring to negotiations between Republican and Democrat lawmakers to extend tax cuts for the middle class. “And he’s not into governing. He may be serving what I hope is the last ten or 11 months of his term, but the purpose has nothing to do with getting anything accomplished for the country—it’s all about the campaign,” McConnell said. Asked if Obama was the most divisive president in modern American history, McConnell responded that he is “certainly the most divisive one I’ve served with.” McConnell has served in the Senate for 25-plus years.
- Alzheimer’s disease seems to spread like an infection from brain cell to brain cell, two new studies find, reports The New York Times. But instead of viruses or bacteria, what is being spread is a distorted protein known as tau. The surprising finding answers a longstanding question and has immediate implications for developing treatments, researchers said. And they suspect that other degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s may spread in a similar way. Alzheimer’s researchers have long known that dying, tau-filled cells first emerge in a small area of the brain where memories are made and stored. The disease then slowly moves outward to larger areas that involve remembering and reasoning. But for more than a quarter-century, researchers have been unable to decide between two explanations. One is that the spread may mean that the disease is transmitted from neuron to neuron, perhaps along the paths that nerve cells use to communicate with one another. Or it could simply mean that some brain areas are more resilient than others and resist the disease longer.