Religion Today Summaries - February 7, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 7, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.


In today's edition:

Superman to the Rescue of Religious Teaching in UKClassrooms


Superman is bringing his otherworldly powers to British schools to teach godless children about Christianity. Religious education teachers are being encouraged to use the superhero as a modern-day model for Jesus Christ to give youngsters an insight into morality and religious thinking, the Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday. "Teenagers visit the cinema and see films on television and DVDs, so it's hardly surprising that their assessments of what is heroic and what is evil, possible or impossible, are partly based on what they watch," said Helen Cook, head of post-graduate teacher training at Sheffield Hallam University in northern England. Cook pointed to many parallels between the "Man of Steel" and Jesus: ·Both were sent by their fathers to Earth, both achieve prominent adulthoods after an obscure childhood, both help the humans they are sent to live with, both are champions of truth over injustice. Cook argued that with church attendance on the wane, it has become increasingly difficult to explain the basic tenets of faith to children, who require ‘’an identifiable point of reference.” The Church of England's spokesman on religious education, John Gay, said that analogies could be highly effective as a teaching technique, but only if used carefully.


Pope Urges Renewed Respect for All Life


Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged the faithful to develop a new respect for life. A Washington Post story reports that Benedict, marking the Church's "Day for Life," stressed that in our “so-called well-off societies,... life is exalted as long as it's pleasant, but one tends to not respect it any more when it is sick or damaged." The description "sick or damaged" refers to deformed fetuses, the severely disabled, terminally ill patients or people in vegetative states. The pontiff cited the 1995 encyclical "Evangelium Vitae," in which the late Pope John Paul II delivered the Vatican's most forceful condemnation of abortion, artificial contraception, euthanasia and experimentation on human embryos. "Every human life as such deserves to be always defended and promoted," Benedict said. Recently, the abortion pill RU-486 became available in parts of Italy on an experimental basis. The Pope told Italian officials last month that doctors should not give women the abortion pill because it hides the "gravity" of taking a human life.


Charred by Fires, Alabama Churches Find Renewed Faith


The regional head of the ATF said all five fires that broke out early Friday in Bibb County, AL "obviously" were arson, and agents are trying to determine whether a sixth fire that broke out a day earlier at a church in neighboring Chilton County was set. Investigators said they had no suspects or apparent motive, but the FBI said it was looking at possible civil rights violations under laws focusing on attacks on religious institutions. Meanwhile, an AP story reports that members of the burned churches still held worship Sunday. Pastor David Hand of Old Union Baptist counted the blessings of his little country church. "I'm just so thrilled we have a building today," Hand said to "Amens" from the 60 people gathered. Worshippers struggled to make sense of the church fires, but their faith seemed stronger than ever. Members of Rehobeth Baptist Church knelt in prayer beside the rubble of their church before holding Sunday school in a small fellowship building near the old sanctuary. "Our people are rural Alabama. They're resilient. They come back strong," Pastor Duane Schliep said. Ashby Baptist Church was destroyed by fire, but more than 110 members still joined together to worship at another church about five miles away. The Southern Baptist Convention said it would provide financial assistance to all four member churches that were targeted. Convention officials said they would also provide financial help to a fifth church - Pleasant Sabine Baptist - that is not a member of the local association but was left in rubble.


Egyptian Sisters Win Christian Identity Battle


Two young Coptic Christian women whose father had converted to Islam when they were infants have won a court battle in Egypt to retain their official religious identity as Christians. Now 18 and 19 years old, Iman and Olfat Malak Ayet will be issued national identity cards matching their Christian birth certificates tomorrow. In the final verdict, presiding Judge Farouk Ali Abdel Kader of Cairo’s District No. 1 Administrative Court declared that the civil authorities had conducted a “non-justified intervention” by imposing upon the two plaintiffs a belief they had not chosen. “It is not in any way acceptable that the civil authorities take advantage of their authority to force the plaintiffs to embrace Islam,” the ruling specified.