Gleanings: May 2013
Argentina's pastors love Pope Francis
ARGENTINA The first Roman Catholic pope from the Americas has won strong praise from evangelical leaders in Argentina—but it's not just hometown pride. Pope Francis's election "has been an answer to our prayers," said Norberto Saracco, coleader of Buenos Aires's council of pastors. He's impressed by former archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio's passion for prayer and church unity. International evangelist and Argentine native Luis Palau expects a papacy that will "make [Catholic-evangelical] relations easier and lessen tensions," given Francis's moral convictions and biblical faith.
Blasphemy charges alive and well
PAKISTAN Blasphemy remains a hot-button issue in Pakistan. A drunken quarrel between friends led to accusations of blasphemy, which in turn sparked the nation's largest religious riot in nearly four years. A mob burned down 150 homes in a Christian colony in Lahore. (A similar riot in Gojra burned nine Christians to death in 2009.) Meanwhile, dissident church members accused a Salvation Army pastor of blaspheming the Bible. Denomination officials said the charges were unfounded, but relocated the pastor and his family for their safety
The next abortion battleground
In March, state lawmakers approved the tightest abortion restrictions in the United States. Arkansas banned abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, and North Dakota after 6 weeks (in some cases). However, a federal judge overturned a similar Idaho law that banned abortions after 20 weeks. The laws attempt to end abortions at the point when fetuses reportedly begin to feel pain. The ruling prompted many experts to say fetal-pain laws, which now exist in nine states, could be the next abortion battle—one likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Do adoptive parents have to be married?
SCOTLAND An adoption agency "does not provide public benefit" if it requires prospective parents to be married. So said Scotland's charity regulator regarding a Catholic agency in Glasgow. It stripped St. Margaret's Children and Family Care Society of its charity status because the agency's policies amount to "unlawful discrimination" against unmarried and same-sex couples. This "outweighs the other positive effects of the charity's work," the government office said. St. Margaret's can comply with equality laws ￼or appeal the decision.
Life after C. J. Mahaney
Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) founder C. J. Mahaney announced in March that he would step down as president of the beleaguered network of churches. The announcement came shortly after SGM asked a Maryland court to dismiss a lawsuit alleging its leaders covered up the sexual abuse of children. Critics were hoping Mahaney would acknowledge the accusations or apologize, but Mahaney just said he wanted to focus on pastoring a local church. He did not apply for SGM's new executive director position because his "gifts and sense of call [were not] the best fit for certain aspects" of the role.
Family fraud at million-person church
SOUTH KOREA Prosecutors are investigating David Yonggi Cho, 77-year-old founder of the world's largest congregation, for an alleged "breach of trust" that may have cost Yoido Full Gospel Church more than US$9 million. They are also investigating him on suspicion of tax evasion (he is said to owe US$5.5 million in taxes). Korean news sources also say that his son Cho Hee-jun has been arrested for allegedly selling stock to the church at a rate almost four times higher than market value, costing the church US$14.5 million in damages. David Cho first came under investigation in 2011, when church elders accused him of embezzling US$20 million. The church suspended 28 elders as "retaliation for blowing the whistle," said Korean sources.