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WEEKLY REVIEW: Gay Students Sue Fuller Seminary, Reinhard Bonnke Remembered, and More Boy Scout Troubles

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Seminary Sued Over Same-Sex Marriage.  Fuller Theological Seminary, the nation’s largest interdenominational seminary, is being sued by two gay students who were expelled because of their same-sex marriages.  Joanna Maxon first filed suit against the school in November, after being expelled in 2018 when Fuller found out about her same-sex marriage.  Nathan Brittsan joined the suit this week, though he was expelled in 2017.  Both Brittsan and Maxon are seeking more than $1-million in damages.  A key to the case will be Fuller’s Sexual Standards policy, which states the seminary holds marriage to be a “covenant union between one man and one woman” and believes “homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct to be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture.”  Fuller is being represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which specializes in religious liberty cases.  Becket was lead counsel in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014.  Becket Fund attorney Daniel Blomberg told Christianity Today, “The claims here are dangerous for faith-based institutions.  If the court was to accept them, then they would be harmful to religious groups of all backgrounds and particularly minority religious groups that have beliefs that the majority and the surrounding communities might find unpopular … We think that’s unlikely that courts would accept these kinds of arguments because they’re weak claims. But they’re dangerous.” 

Reinhard Bonnke Memorialized.  Reinhard Bonnke, the German evangelist known as “The Billy Graham of Africa,” was lauded at a Saturday (Jan. 4) memorial service as “a giant and a general in the army of God.”  The Pentecostal pastor died Dec. 7 at the age of 79 in Orlando, where he moved his international ministry, Christ for All Nations, in the early 2000s. He retired as head of Christ for All Nations in 2017, citing declining health.  During more than four decades of mass crusades in Africa, Bonnke preached in 51 of the continent’s countries and claimed 79 million people made professions of faith during his crusades.  Though he said, “Billy Graham has inspired me personally,” Bonnke’s theology and practices departed significantly from those of Graham.  During Bonnke’s memorial service, Pentecostal leaders including T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn and Paula White, appeared on the three large screens above the sanctuary’s stage with filmed tributes.  

Proposed Sale Could Impact .ORG Web Addresses.  According to “Non Profit Times,” “An international group of leaders of the Internet and the nonprofit community have filed paperwork in California to establish a co-op organization in an attempt to block the $1.13-billion sale of Public Interest Registry (PIR) to venture firm Ethos Capital.”  The name of the new organization is Cooperative Corporation of .ORG Registrants. The concept is to convince the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to block the sale of the nonprofit PIR.  Non-profit advocates believe the sale of the PIR to a for-profit firm would affect the price non-profits pay for .org names.  Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told “Non Profit Times” said that the idea of a venture firm running the Internet is not credible. Cohn said PIR’s budget is supplemented by donations from technology firms, and without those donations, costs will skyrocket.

Another Blow To Boy Scouts.  On Jan. 1, approximately 420,000 Mormon youth and as many as 200,000 adults left the Boy Scouts of America.  The departure was the latest in a series of setbacks for the century-old BSA.  To read my in-depth article on the long slide of the Boy Scouts, published in WORLD Magazine, click here. 

Updates to MinistryWatch Database.  The following ministries have had their profiles updated in the MinistryWatch database:  Commission to Every Nation (5 Stars/MinistryWatch 2019 “Shining Light” Awardee), Cure (2 Stars), CRU (3 Stars), Total Living International (2 Stars), and Advancing Native Missions (4 Stars). 

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Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.