Religion Today Summaries, December 2, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, December 2, 2003

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

  • Chinese Christians Imprisoned, Beaten
  • Top Episcopal Bishop Resigns from Catholic-Anglican Dialogue
  • Late-Night TV Inspires Church's Wednesday Service
  • Support for Moore in Polls, Lawsuit

Chinese Christians Imprisoned, Beaten
Charisma News Service

Fellow inmates recently beat a house-church leader who was sent to a "re-education" labor camp for two years. According to the Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), Zhang Yi-nan was beaten at the urging of prison guards during his first day at the camp.  Arrested Sept. 26 in Ping Ding Shan City, Yi-nan was charged with "subverting the Chinese government and socialist order" based on writings from his prayer journal. "There is no excuse for this welcoming committee for brother Zhang," said VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton. "Yet this is business-as-usual for Chinese Christians. We urge Christians around the world to pray for Zhang's safety and that he will have many opportunities to witness for Christ." Meanwhile, a Christian woman recently died while in police custody. Zhang Hong-mei, 33, was arrested Oct. 29 in Dong Miao Dong village. Her family was told by police to pay a bribe the equivalent of about $400. Although her family couldn't raise the money, Hong-mei's husband, Xu Feng-hai, and her brother went to the station to request her release. They saw her bound with heavy chains. She appeared to have been beaten and could not speak to the pair. The next day police told her family that Hong-mei died. About 1,000 people, including Hong-mei, joined in a protest march in front of city offices after her death.

Top Episcopal Bishop Resigns from Catholic-Anglican Dialogue
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, under fire for his support of an openly gay bishop, has resigned as co-chairman of long-standing talks with the Roman Catholic Church. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said he would step down from the 33-year-old Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission because the consecration of openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire has caused "strain" between the two churches.  "I do so not without regret, but in the interest of not jeopardizing the present and future life and work of the Commission of which I was privileged to be a member," Griswold wrote on Wednesday to the leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.  Griswold has co-chaired the dialogue since 1998. His Catholic counterpart is Archbishop Alexander Brunette of Seattle. Last month, Brunette said Robinson's election and consecration had "put us in a very bad situation" and said "they need to resolve the issue so that we can be back in full communion with the whole Anglican Church. They've kind of put themselves separate from the Anglican Church." In reply, Williams told Griswold he was "very sorry that this has seemed the best course." Williams will appoint a new Anglican co-chairman after meeting with the Anglican Consultative Council.

Late-Night TV Inspires Church's Wednesday Service
Charisma News Service

"This is not your grandmother's Wednesday night Bible study class" could be the slogan for a Church of God congregation with an innovative mid-week service. Inspired by God and late-night TV host David Letterman, "Wednesday Night Live (WNL) with Pastor Rodney" is "hosted" by Rodney McKinley, associate pastor at Abundant Life Ministries in Largo, Florida. "I call this sermon with a twist," McKinley said. Instead of three points and a prayer, McKinley opens WNL with a monologue and some lighthearted banter with his co-host, followed by a top 10 list with some religious connection (for example, Reasons Why God Made Eve). They then welcome the guests: costumed characters straight out of the Bible. The program features a backdrop scene of Tampa's downtown skyline, a desk for McKinley, a couch for Parro and the visitors, plus a live band that provides musical interludes. WNL is a big hit, tripling attendance from 50 parishioners to about 150. "It's not just church folks who are coming," McKinley said. "They're bringing their neighbors, friends and co-workers. No matter how much fun we have, Jesus is still the center of the show. We never end it without giving someone the opportunity to receive Christ."

Support for Moore in Polls, Lawsuit
Agape Press

A poll finds that most Alabama residents support former Chief Justice Roy Moore.  The Mobile Register-University of South Alabama poll found that more than 60% of state residents do not think Moore's battle to publicly acknowledge God should have cost him his job.  In early November, the Alabama Court found Moore guilty of ethics violations for disobeying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.  According to the poll, many of the respondents also said they would vote for Moore if he ran for the U.S. Senate or even for President next year.  Meanwhile, a Dothan, Alabama, attorney will announce on Tuesday a lawsuit he has filed that seeks to restore Moore as the state's chief justice.  Johnny Davis says his client, Christian talk-show host Kelly McGinley of Mobile, brings the suit as a voter and taxpayer of Alabama.  McGinley says "the rights of all voters who elected Judge Moore were violated by his unconstitutional removal."  According to press release from Davis's office, the suit names as defendants Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the Court of the Judiciary, and the State of Alabama.