Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Christian Groups against Approval of Rajasthan Anti-conversion Bill
- Post-Arson, Church Has New Vision for Reaching Community
- Does Hollywood Get Religion Right? Critics' Reactions Vary
- Research Shows Early Porn Exposure Has Lasting Effects
Christian Groups against Approval of Rajasthan Anti-conversion Bill
AsiaNews reports that Christian organisations in India have called on the governor of Rajasthan not to sign the so-called “Freedom of Religion Bill 2006” banning conversions and restricting religious freedom among minorities. In an appeal written in the name of the Episcopal Justice and Peace Commission, the Christian Council and the Catholic Union, John Dayal, a well known human rights campaigner, called on the governor to “use her statutory powers to reject and return the Bill and not to make it law”. On April 1, a large rally was held in the capital Jaipur to express civil society’s concern, as the organizers explained, “about the nefarious Bill its dangerous motives, which aim to do nothing less than to divide the people on religious lines and injure the secular polity of our society”. Christians make up 0.11% of the population in Rajasthan, Muslims account for 8% and Hindus for 89%.
Post-Arson, Church Has New Vision for Reaching Community
Ashby Baptist Church’s 87-year-old white frame structure in rural Alabama is now just a clearing in the woods, but Ashby's long-range plans also have been cleared for a new beginning after it was among nine Alabama churches by arsonists in early February. Baptist Press reports the new start is a challenge church members are getting more excited about all the time. “For a lot of the folks here, losing their church building is like losing an old friend or friend of the family. You process it like you do death,” pastor Jim Parker said. “But as the healing process has gone on, the people are getting ready to move forward. And there are so many options on where to go from here.” Gary Swafford, director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions’ office of associational missions and church planting said, “In building their new church, they are talking about re-dreaming their dream and adopting a new vision to go with the new building, which is a good idea.” Swafford said church members seem thrilled about being able to plan their new facilities specifically toward reaching the new people moving into the area. The next step may be canvassing the neighborhoods for more studies or working on the drawings for the new facilities, Parker said. The church has had offers of free architect services, part of an outpouring of help and donations from people all across the state and nation.
Does Hollywood Get Religion Right? Critics' Reactions Vary
Does Hollywood get religion right when it makes movies? Catholic News Service reports the answers are diverse as cinematic fare. "Some people do their homework and get it right; other people exploit it," said Paulist Father Frank Desiderio. "If you mean the studios, then no they don't," said Barbara Nicolosi, who runs the Act One screenwriting program for Christians. "Studios are not in the habit of hiring people of faith to either write, direct or be in any creative capacity for projects that involve religion." Harry Forbes, director of the U.S. bishops' Office for Film & Broadcasting, said, "In the old days, Hollywood would bend over backward not to offend." While that era may have been inaccurate by portraying "an overly idealized view of religious types," Forbes added, "that is preferable to a disparaging view of religion, as you often get today." Nicolosi commented on several recent releases, including ABC's miniseries The Ten Commandments ("[They] missed "the entire theological heart of the Moses story"), blockbuster movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (" [It] didn't pack the punch it could have" because the screenwriters "didn't get Aslan"), and the forthcoming The Da Vinci Code (she dreads the May 19 release, and is advocating an "othercott," exhorting moviegoers to see the animated feature Over the Hedge that weekend instead).
Research Shows Early Porn Exposure Has Lasting Effects
AgapePress reports that recent studies confirming the corruptive impact of pornography on people revealed a growing concern among both secularists and Christians regarding its effect on children, especially if they are exposed at an early age. Author Peter Stock addressed the concern in a document titled "The Harmful Effects on Children of Exposure to Pornography," in which he noted that viewing pornography distorts the sexual development of children and adolescents. Not only does it give an inadequate perspective of human sexuality, it dehumanizes women. "This possibly violent, very degrading image or depiction of sexuality becomes the normal depiction of sexuality in the child's mind," said Daniel Weiss of Focus on the Family Action. Even if the exposure is accidental, research shows that it can warp a child's understanding of sexuality. The twisted view follows them through life, and creates a plethora of problems along the way. Experts associate early exposure to pornography with an increase in teen pregnancy, abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and relationship problems. According to researcher Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, these problems surface when external beauty fades after years of marriage.