Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top religious news stories from around the world!
In Today's Edition:
- Tablet Touted as Temple Confirmation; NOBTS Archaeology Prof. Voices Caution
- Adult Sex Store Owner Escalates War of Words Against Pastor and God
- Vietnam Government Takes Step Forward Toward Religious Freedom: Allows Protestant Ministerial Training
- Vietnam Government Takes Two Steps Back From Religious Freedom: Noxious Gas Used to Break Up Worship Service
Tablet Touted as Temple Confirmation; NOBTS Archaeology Prof. Voices Caution
(Baptist Press) A Southern Baptist seminary professor voiced caution Jan. 15 amid news reports highlighting what could be, as one account put it, "the most significant archaeological finding yet in Jerusalem and the land of Israel." If authenticated, a sandstone tablet apparently discovered on the Temple Mount would become the first piece of physical evidence confirming a biblical text. The tablet is about the size of a legal pad and has a 10-line inscription in ancient Phoenician that corresponds with a passage in 2 Kings 12 calling for temple repairs. According to an Associated Press report, experts at Israel's Geological Institute have studied the tablet over the past year, and their findings show it is authentic. Amos Bean, director of the institute, said in the AP report that the evidence could indicate that the tablet was part of Solomon's Temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. But Steven M. Ortiz, assistant professor of archaeology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press that the tablet could be a forgery. "I suspect that the initial sensationalism of this find will quickly subside as it is subject to scrutiny by the academic community," Ortiz said. www.bpnews.com
Adult Sex Store Owner Escalates War of Words Against Pastor and God
(Charisma News) An adult-entertainment store upset about opposition to its business from the pastor of a neighboring church has gone on the offensive. As people arrive at Midwest Baptist Church in High Forest Township, near Stewartville, Minn., they pass the sign outside Pure Pleasure, located next door, which reads: "And God said go out into the world and have great sex. God's gift to women. Amen and amen." A different message is on the other side, so that when people leave the church they read: "No end to mail order. Gay videos in stock. Clergy discount. Have good sex. Hallelujah!" The war of words is aimed at pastor Joseph Grimaldi, who has spoken out against the business, which is involved in a zoning dispute, the Associated Press reported. "This sign shows me that he's not only thumbing his nose at the laws of the township, he's thumbing his nose at the laws of God," he said of landowner Malcolm Prinzing. "I just hope I'm not too close when the lightning strikes," Grimaldi added. "If anything, this makes us stronger. If this was supposed to get me to shut up, he failed. If it was supposed to get me to go away, he failed." A local judge last week ordered the removal of all sexual content from the store because it was violating zoning regulations. www.charismanews.com
Vietnam Government Takes Step Forward Toward Religious Freedom: Allows Protestant Ministerial Training
(Compass) Twenty-seven years after forcibly shutting down the Nha Trang Theological Seminary, Vietnamese authorities on January 3 granted permission to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam-South, or ECVN (S), to open a class for training church leaders. Although a few see it as a hopeful sign, most of Vietnam's Protestant leaders see it as a very small step on the road to religious freedom. The ECVN (S), representing over half of Vietnam's 1.2 million Protestants, received official recognition in April 2001, after some 27 years of existing in legal limbo. Hundreds of thousands of minority Christians historically related to the ECVN (S) are still considered "illegal" by the communist government. Over 400 churches in Dak Lak province were forcibly disbanded in the fall of 2002. The permission, long delayed, came with further conditions. Only one class of 50 male students would be allowed to study. The prospective students would also need approval by the government after being accepted for study by the church. The ECVN (S) hopes to have an opening ceremony for this class of seminarians on February 14, 2003.
Vietnam Government Takes Two Steps Back From Religious Freedom: Noxious Gas Used to Break Up Worship Service
(VOM – Canada) On December 29, police used noxious gas to break up a worship service in the Dien Bien Dong district of North Vietnam. A source told ANS that of the 40 Hmong people gathered for worship, 20 had been hospitalized because of the gas. Vietnamese authorities have been systematically attacking the Hmong people. Listeners to Far East Broadcasting report that Christian villages are under constant surveillance preventing any Christian meetings and burning any Christian literature found. www.persecution.net