Religion Today Summaries, February 26, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 26, 2004

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

  • Gospel Artist Talks Abstinence with Bush Administration
  • The Call Prayer Events to Expand Internationally
  • Two Chinese Christian Leaders Arrested
  • Bush's Call for Gay Marriage Ban Thrills Christian Groups

Gospel Artist Talks Abstinence with Bush Administration
Allie Martin and Jenni Parker, Agape Press

One of the most popular contemporary Christian recording artists recently got the chance to lead a Bible study at the White House and speak about God's view regarding sex outside marriage. Earlier this month, Rebecca St. James was invited to the White House to lead a lunchtime Bible study and spend time with several members of the Bush Administration staff.  At the conclusion of the study, several staffers approached St. James and questioned her about her thoughts on abstinence. The Bush Administration is currently working on a nationwide abstinence initiative. The gospel artist, who has made the message of abstinence and sexual purity a particular focus of her ministry, was able to share with members of the Bush team some of the experiences and insights she has gained from speaking with teenagers during her travels. Her heart for this issue has led St. James to branch out far beyond the concert tour stage in order to maximize outreach. The Grammy Award-winning artist is also a writer of inspiring editorials and best-selling devotional books. St. James says even though Christians know God's ways are the best, believers need to be equipped and ready to share their beliefs with non-Christians. Through her music, her public appearances, her talks with teens, and her writing, the multifaceted Rebecca St. James is putting the word out that there is power in purity.

The Call Prayer Events to Expand Internationally
Charisma News Service

Three years after California pastor Lou Engle issued an urgent call for youth to convene in Washington, D.C., to pray for their nation, the leader of what has become a national prayer movement said the mission has been accomplished. "I believe in some small way, The Call helped heal the broken covenants of the past, thereby bringing our nation under a measure of covenantal protection," Engle, pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena. "My assignment was to help shift the courts of America through prayer back to righteousness," he added. "I believe we opened that door." In the future, Call organizers say they will help other countries host their own Calls. Two are scheduled for Sydney, Australia, and Oslo, Norway, later this year, and Berlin in 2005. In addition to planning international Call events, organizers want to help mobilize groups to go to their state capitals to spend five hours in prayer for local and national issues, especially the elections.

Two Chinese Christian Leaders Arrested
Voice of the Martyrs

China arrested two Christian leaders charging them with "revealing state secrets" because they did research on persecution, Human Rights in China charged. The group said Liu Fenggang and Xu Yonghai face five years to life in prison for investigating crackdowns on underground Protestant "house churches." "It is ludicrous to designate as a state secret actions taken against members of the public, such as the destruction of a house of worship and personal property," said Liu Qing, the organization's president. In the 1990s, Liu and Xu had been sent to labor camps for authoring an essay on how Christians should help the poor.

Bush's Call for Gay Marriage Ban Thrills Christian Groups
Charisma News Service

Meeting long-held expectations of conservative Christian supporters, President Bush this week declared his support for amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage. During his announcement Tuesday from the White House, Bush noted that same-sex weddings threaten marriage and society, and that actions by several local jurisdictions allowing gay marriage make federal intervention the only recourse. "If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America," he said. Christian pro-family groups who view prohibiting gay marriage as a priority were thrilled. "His announcement serves as a critical catalyst to energize and organize those who will work diligently to ensure that marriage remains an institution between one man and one woman," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. Bush called on Congress "to promptly pass and to send to the states for ratification" an amendment to define marriage. After Bush's announcement, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said it would take time to gauge the level of support in Congress for a constitutional amendment. DeLay suggested the difficulty of passing one may cause lawmakers to take a different approach to preserving marriage as a solely man-woman union.