Religion Today Summaries, April 16, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, April 16, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians
In Today's Edition:

  • Dobson Remains Chairman of Focus on the Family; New President Named
  • Sign Faith Statement or Resign, Southern Baptist Missionaries Told
  • Christian Leaders Arrested in Laos for Leading Church Services
  • Religion Bestsellers - Hardcover

Dobson Remains Chairman of Focus on the Family; New President Named
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) James Dobson, longtime president of Focus on the Family, has decided to expand his role as chairman of the conservative Christian group but pass on the presidency role to a successor. Don Hodel, the former president of the Christian Coalition and a Cabinet member in the Reagan administration, will begin serving as president and CEO on May 15. "This redefined responsibility will assure Dr. Dobson's continued leadership of the organization but without the burden of day-to-day management," the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based ministry announced. "It will allow him to spend more time on ministry objectives that only he can accomplish." Dobson, who founded the ministry in 1977, will continue his role as host of the ministry's radio program, also called "Focus on the Family." Hodel was the Christian Coalition's president from 1997 to 1999 and was energy secretary and interior secretary during Reagan's presidency. He has served on the ministry's board of directors since 1995.

Sign Faith Statement or Resign, Southern Baptist Missionaries Told
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) The Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board has given more than two dozen missionaries an ultimatum: Sign the denomination's faith statement or resign. Jerry Rankin, president of the board, sent a letter April 11 to 18 "missionary units," or 31 people, seeking a decision by May 5, the denomination announced. Since his original request more than a year ago for affirmation of the 2000 version of the Baptist Faith and Message, 98.7 percent of the board's 5,500 workers overseas have supported the statement. Other letters to three missionary units did not include the choice of affirming the statement but asked them to resign. Rankin said those six missionaries "have clearly and publicly stated positions contrary to the BF&M that are beyond acceptable parameters. They have adamantly refused to be accountable to the IMB and Southern Baptist churches as requested." "We deeply regret losing any missionary, but we are accountable to the churches in this matter," Rankin said in a statement. "If a missionary's disagreements are so great that he or she cannot in good conscience promise to work in harmony with the BF&M, we feel he or she has an obligation to Southern Baptists to tell them so."

Christian Leaders Arrested in Laos for Leading Church Services

(Charisma News) Two Christian leaders were arrested recently for leading a Nonepg-ing church service, according to Christian Aid Mission (CAM). Identified only as Mr. Ton, 58, and Mr. Serun, 45, the pair persuaded the authorities to let the meeting continue, but they were jailed a few days later on April 3. Authorities reportedly tore down the church building after their arrest. Sources told CAM that the church was targeted because it was visited by a high-ranking U.S. official earlier this year. The same U.S. representative visited a church in Kdngkok, and found worshipers wearing sackcloth to show their continuous suffering. Authorities have now seized the church building there and turned it into a government office, as part of a continued crackdown on believers. In addition, a church in the Chonburi District, located in the Savannakhet province, was closed and believers were told not to gather outside the building for any kind of worship. Authorities also closed a church of ethnic Bru people near the Vietnam border. Identified only as Mr. Koy, the church's leader and 13 co-leaders and their families were forced from their homes. "Please pray for believers in Laos," CAM officials said. "They are greatly hated by Lao authorities."

Religion Bestsellers - Hardcover

(Editor's note: This list is compiled by Publishers Weekly magazine from data received from general independent bookstores, chain stores and wholesalers within the month of March. Copyright 2003 Publishers Weekly. Distributed by Religion News Service.)

1. The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. (Zondervan, $19.99)
2. Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge. (Thomas Nelson, $16.95)
3. I Hope You Dance, by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers. (Rutledge Hill, $13.99)
4. Bringing Up Boys, by James Dobson. (Tyndale, $22.99)
5. Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths, by Bruce Feiler. (Morrow, $23.95)
6. A Life God Rewards: Why Everything You Do Today Matters Forever, by Bruce Wilkinson. (Multnomah, $10.99)
7. The Brother of Jesus, by Hershel Shanks and Ben Witherington III. (Harper San Francisco, $24.95)
8. Traveling Light, by Max Lucado. (W Publishing Group, $21.99)
9. Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage, by Kevin Leman. (Tyndale, $19.99)
10. Bible Code II: The Countdown, by Michael Drosnin. (Viking, $26.95)