Religion Today Summaries - February 3, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 3, 2005

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

  • Pope John Paul Taken To Hospital For Respiratory Ailment

  • Magazine's '25 Most Influential Evangelicals' Feature Charismatic Leaders

  • German Home Educators Face Persecution for Rejecting State Schools 

  • Former Romanian Prisoner Receives Humanitarian Award

Pope John Paul Taken To Hospital For Respiratory Ailment
Michael Ireland, Assist News Service

CNN Rome Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci reports from Rome that Pope John Paul II was taken to a hospital late Tuesday with an acute respiratory infection, hours after aides announced he was suffering from the flu, the Vatican said. Earlier Tuesday, the Vatican said the pontiff had canceled his public and private meetings for the next few days, including his general audience on Wednesday, due to a bout with influenza. He was forced to cancel all engagements for the coming days after coming down with influenza on Sunday. The Pope suffers from a number of chronic ailments, including Parkinson's disease. He has survived an assassination attempt and undergone nine operations -- including a hip replacement. Reuters news agency said Pope John Paul needed urgent hospital treatment on Tuesday night after his influenza ailment deteriorated, but he is not in intensive care, the Vatican said. 

Magazine's '25 Most Influential Evangelicals' Feature Charismatic Leaders
Charisma News Service

Several Pentecostal and charismatic leaders have been spotlighted in the latest issue of Time magazine. Featuring the United States flag and a cross, the newsweekly's Feb. 7 cover features the headline "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" and the photos of T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer and several other prominent Christian leaders, including Rick Warren and James Dobson. "American Evangelicalism seems to defy unity, let alone hierarchy. Yet its members share basic commitments. [The magazine's] list focuses on those whose influence is on the rise or who have carved out a singular role," said the introduction of the cover story, which also featured separate articles on "Does Bush Owe the Religious Right?" and how Democrats are "trying out a more soulful tone." For the most part, Time had positive things to say about the Pentecostal and charismatic leaders on its list. The list in alphabetical order include Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, David Barton, Doug Coe, Chuck Colson, Luis Cortès, Dobson, Stuart Epperson, Michael Gerson, Billy and Franklin Graham, Ted Haggard, Bill Hybels, Jakes, Diane Knippers, Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Richard Land, Brian McLaren, Meyer, Neuhaus, Mark Noll, J.I. Packer, Santorum, Jay Sekulow, Strang, Warren, and Ralph Winter. (

German Home Educators Face Persecution for Rejecting State Schools
Jim Brown and Jenni Parker, AgapePress

Several home schooling families in Germany are being ordered to return their children to public school. Ten families in that country are currently fighting in court for the right to keep their children out of government schools; and seven families in the German county of Paderborn are actually facing criminal prosecution for home schooling and could potentially lose custody of their children. Despite the fact that the German government does not recognize home education, the Paderborn families recently pulled their children out of public school to begin teaching them at home. As Christians, the parents' primary reason for doing this was to protect their children from the humanistic and atheistic values they were being taught in public school. The families demonstrated to school officials that their children were receiving a more than adequate education. However, the school districts maintained that home schooling children is against the law, and demanded the children be enrolled in government schools. The parents argued that forcing them to do this would violate their rights, but County Education Director Heinz Kohler dismissed their religious convictions. The Paderborn County school board has levied fines against the home schooling families and ordered the parents to return their children back in the public school system or have them taken to school by force. The families were also warned that any resistance could result in the children being taken from their homes and put into state custody.

Former Romanian Prisoner Receives Humanitarian Award
News at Prison Fellowship

Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and President Mark Earley bestowed the 17th annual William Wilberforce Award upon Constantin Asavoaie at an invitation-only event yesterday, Feb. 2. Constantin Asavoaie, former prisoner, now director of Prison Fellowship Romania, reaches out to all of the country's 37 prisons through a committed corps of 5,000 volunteers. A mighty advocate for criminal justice reform, Constantin established the first national probation system in all of Eastern Europe. Constantin has also established three group homes: one for street children (including many prisoners' children), one for homeless people, and one for mothers and their children. Constantin is a great social reformer acting against the inertia of the old communist mentality gripping his country as it emerges from the past," said Colson and Earley. Romania's 2003 Man of the Year award recipient, Constantin has been asked to run for office but has refused, preferring to spend his life making a difference at the grass-roots level. Since 1987, Prison Fellowship has annually bestowed the William Wilberforce Award on an individual who has made a difference in the face of formidable societal problems and injustices.  The award is given in honor of William Wilberforce, an eighteenth century British parliamentarian who stood against his party in his campaign to abolish the slave trade and honor the basic human right to life.