Religion Today Summaries - April 22, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 22, 2005

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:

  • Lutheran Relief Workers Report Progress in Nias Island's Disaster Recovery  

  • “Justice Sunday” Event To Air Live On Sky Angel

  • Survey: America's College Freshmen on a Spiritual Quest 

  • Vietnamese Court Denies Mennonite Pastors' Appeal

Lutheran Relief Workers Report Progress in Nias Island's Disaster Recovery
Ed Thomas, Agape Press

A spokesman for Lutheran World Relief (LWR) says road access and utilities are just beginning to be restored on southeastern Asia's Nias Island, located near the epicenter of last month's devastating aftershock to the December earthquake that struck the region and precipitated the deadly Indian Ocean tsunamis. LWR communications director Jeff Rasmussen says ministry partners on Nias are giving some positive reports on recovery progress since the March 28 earthquake. He notes that a recent communication reported that electric power has been restored to the island's capital city of Gunung Sitoli, and the road to the airport, which is vital for landing airlifts of relief supplies, has been repaired. Also, the main east-west travel corridor on the island is again passable. But Rasmussen says conditions are far from ideal in the capital, with 80 percent of the buildings destroyed and devastation spread across the rest of the tsunami-ravaged island. In fact, the LWR communications director says all of Southeast Asia has been overwhelmed by the recent chain of disasters and will require Western financial support and the prayers of believers to continue their recovery. LWR and other relief ministry help is on site, but the road to restoration is a long one.

“Justice Sunday” Event To Air Live On Sky Angel
Michael Ireland, Assist News Service

According to the Family Research Council, many of President Bush's judicial nominees are being threatened with a congressional filibuster simply because of their faith and values. The Sky Angel nationwide direct-to-home Christian-family satellite television service will beam live into homes and churches across America a special "Justice Sunday" event presented by the Family Research Council. “Justice Sunday” is being held April 24 to engage "values voters" in this issue.  The live broadcast is scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. ET (4 to 5:30 p.m. PT) and will air on Sky Angel's special events channel, Angel Two/Channel 9702, and be available at no additional charge to Sky Angel subscribers. The live broadcast will feature Family Research Council President Tony Perkins along with Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family; Dr. Al Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Sky Angel, owned and operated by Dominion Video Satellite Inc., is a multi-channel Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) company based in Naples, Florida, delivering 36 channels of the best in Christian and family TV and radio programming nationwide to homes, churches, colleges, businesses and more via a small 20-inch satellite dish. For more about Sky Angel and to request a free DVD or VHS video about the service, visit  or call 1-800-SKY-ANGEL (1-800-759-2643).

Survey: America's College Freshmen on a Spiritual Quest
Jim Brown and Jody Brown, AgapePress

A new national survey finds that young college students are in a serious search for deeper meaning and purpose in their lives. According to the study, more than three-fourths of those students believe their religious spiritual beliefs provide them with strength, support, and guidance. The nationwide survey of freshmen who started college last fall was conducted by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, and polled more than 112,000 freshmen attending 236 colleges and universities.  The study, titled "Spirituality in Higher Education: A National Study of College Students' Search for Meaning and Purpose," found that 80 percent of those first-year students believe in God, and 83 percent believe life is sacred. Three-fourths of those surveyed say they are searching for meaning or purpose in life and would like their schools to help them explore such questions. Other findings of interest include the disparity of opinion on social issues among students with varying levels of what the study describes as "religious engagement."  While 77 percent of those with a low level of religious engagement support legalized abortion, only 23 percent of those with substantial religious engagement support it. Fully two-thirds of students with limited religious involvement feel casual sex is acceptable, but only 15 percent of the "high level" students agree. And while three-fourths (76%) of the low-level students support the concept of homosexual "marriage," just more than one-fourth (28%) of those with a high level of religious engagement support the idea. About one-fourth of those surveyed described themselves as born-again Christians.

Vietnamese Court Denies Mennonite Pastors' Appeal
Special to Compass Direct

Presiding Judge Nguyen Xuan Phat upheld the three-year sentence of the Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang and the two-year sentence of Evangelist Pham Ngoc Thach at an appeal court hearing on April 12. On the morning of the trial, various police units dressed in riot gear were stationed at the courthouse compound. Around 200 Christians came to the courthouse to show solidarity with the Mennonite prisoners by holding a silent prayer vigil. On April 11, Mrs. Quang was summoned to the District 2 police station and scolded for writing and circulating an urgent appeal to Christians everywhere to fast and pray for justice to be done for her husband and the other Mennonite prisoners. A number of leaders from Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship of house churches were also summoned for questioning and followed everywhere by undercover police in the run up to the trial. Three of the "Mennonite Six," as Quang and his co-defendants have come to be known, have been released after serving their respective sentences. They report being singled out for torture and deprivation because they were Christians -- and to persuade them to testify against Quang.