Religion Today Summaries - January 4, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 4, 2005

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

  • Canadian Pastor's Ministry Shows Christians How to Rescue Children at Risk

  • Membership In Episcopal Church USA Has Taken Nosedive

  • Australia: The Beginning Of The End Of Christianity

  • School District Under Fire After Removing Bible Testing Material

Canadian Pastor's Ministry Shows Christians How to Rescue Children at Risk
Charisma News Service

A Canadian pastor is calling for believers touched by renewal to translate their passion into activism for children worldwide who are plagued by poverty, exploitation and war. Wesley Campbell, who co-founded New Life Church in Kelowna, British Columbia, with his wife, Stacey, has focused his international renewal ministry on teaching Christians how to pray for and rescue children at risk, particularly the fatherless and the poor. "After experiencing the Toronto renewal, while people were being touched and blessed and bearing fruit, I saw little being harvested for the poorest of the poor -- specifically the children," Campbell told Charisma magazine. In Be a Hero: The Battle for Mercy and Social Justice, Campbell and co-author Stephen Court, a captain in The Salvation Army who lives and ministers with his family in the poorest neighborhood of Vancouver, British Columbia, reveal simple strategies to transform personal revival into public action. Campbell said heroes don't need a superhuman gift or a flashy uniform. They simply must take action by praying for the poor, investing in the life of a child through child sponsorship, starting or supporting a project working with children, advocating for the "invisible" people so that they become visible to others, or participating in short-term missions trips. With his wife, Campbell compiled what he learned into a book titled Praying the Bible: The Book of Prayers. (

Membership In Episcopal Church USA Has Taken Nosedive

The membership in the Episcopal Church USA has taken a nosedive in the past 18 months, and one activist blames it on the confirmation of an openly homosexual bishop in 2003. Diane Knippers of the Institute on Religion and Democracy believes the confirmation of V. Gene Robinson is what triggered the exodus of many people from the denomination. Latest figures show a membership loss of 36,000 people over a one-year period, which Knippers says amounts to shutting down two churches a week, or about 113 for one year. The Episcopal activist says the church hierarchy is having trouble admitting the problem. "Church leaders say that the membership decline is because Episcopalians have fewer children than members of other churches," she explains. Knippers says that excuse does not explain the sudden drop in membership after Robinson's confirmation when the denomination had experienced decades of steady membership prior to that action.

Australia: The Beginning Of The End Of Christianity
Charisma News Service

Two ministers were recently found guilty of committing blasphemy against Islam in a ruling one Christian group called "the beginning of the end of Christianity" for the south Pacific nation. On Dec. 17, Judge Michael Higgins ruled that Catch the Fire Ministries pastor Danny Nalliah and speaker Daniel Scot vilified Muslims at a seminar in 2002, in a newsletter and an article on a Web site, The (Australia) Age reported. Higgins said that in the seminar, Scot made fun of Muslim beliefs and conduct in a way that was "hostile, demeaning and derogatory of all Muslim people, their god, Allah, the prophet Muhammad and in general Muslim religious beliefs and practices." Scot said he was disappointed but not surprised by the decision. Nalliah added: "We may have lost the battle, but the war is not over. The law has to be removed, there is no question." Nalliah was referring to Australia's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001, which says a person cannot engage in conduct that "incites hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of, that other person or class of persons." Although violating the act provides for prison sentences, Higgins said earlier in the case that jail was not an option for Nalliah and Scot. The duo, though, are expected to be fined. (

School District Under Fire After Removing Bible Testing Material

A Missouri school district is under fire after removing material from its accelerated reading program that tests students on their knowledge of the Bible. Parents Chuck and Mary Alice Nelson had donated the Bible testing material to the Neosho School District for use in elementary and middle schools. However, superintendent Mark Mitchell removed the material from the district's server out of concern the Bible testing may violate the so-called "separation of Church and State." The move has angered the Nelsons and other parents. Neosho school board president Steve Marble believes use of the Bible testing material is constitutional. "I'm more than happy to allow literature to be read and [for students] to be tested, whether it be biblical or any other means" for the accelerated reading program, he says, cautioning that he does not want to begin "censoring literature." A born-again believer himself, Marble says he has "no problem at all" with the Bible being used for educational purposes, but that he wants to look beyond his "natural inclination" and talk to the constituents of the community and "make sure that this is what we want to do in the school district." The Neosho school board will take up the issue at its meeting later this month.