Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Hindu Extremists Kidnap Pastor’s Wife
- Gallup Poll Shows Religion-Politics Connection
- Hong Kong: Government Steals Church Influence
- Pastors Grapple with Issue of Immodest Clothing at Church
Hindu Extremists Kidnap Pastor’s Wife
Joshua Newton, Compass Direct
Hindu extremists who kidnapped the wife of a Christian pastor in India six weeks ago are still holding her captive. Local police have refused to make any attempt to find Manulaben Dinana, 23. They have also refused to question the kidnappers who were identified by eyewitnesses as members of a local group of Hindu extremists. Dinana is the wife of Pastor Dharmesh Ninama, who himself has been assaulted twice by the same group, once in 2002 and again in 2003. Despite ongoing appeals to the Director General of Police, the State Human Rights Commission and State Women’s Commission, officials have taken no action. Meanwhile, Dinana remains in captivity and her husband fears for her life. (www.compassdirect.org)
Gallup Poll Shows Religion-Politics Connection
A Gallup poll has examined the ties between religion and preferences at the polls. Analyst Joseph Carroll says the U.S. is still a predominantly Christian nation. Among the Protestants surveyed, 56 percent said they were in favor of President George W. Bush, with 39 percent for Senator John Kerry. Gallup also found the more regular church attendees are even more likely to vote for Bush. Catholics were more closely divided, but gave Kerry the edge: 49 percent to 42 percent. According to the Washington Times, the reason was the conflict between Kerry's Catholic beliefs and his support of abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research.
Hong Kong: Government Steals Church Influence
Elizabeth Kendal, World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission
Last week, the South China Morning Post reported that Christian educators in Hong Kong were praying for a miracle. The Education (Amendment) Bill 2002 was due to come before Parliament and, according to SCMP, "If it is passed, this Bill will effectively give the Beijing-backed government increased control of Hong Kong's multitudes of Church-owned and run schools." Bishop Zen Ze-kiun, Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong, is among those worried about the bill. "We know that (it) will pass with so many pro-government legislators sitting on Legco [Legislative Council]," he said. "What we are praying for is a miracle." Another Christian leader in Hong Kong explains, "Out of a population of 7 million only 10 percent are members of the Church. But at the same time 50 percent of all schools and 50 percent of all social service programs are run by the Church so there is a great influence especially as the church schools are of very high standard and have the best reputation." Some observers have said the government move is aimed at increasing government influence – while halting the Catholic Church’s -- over Hong Kong. After thirteen hours of "heated debate", the highly controversial bill was passed, by a 29-21 vote, on July 8th, and the new law requires schools to set up Incorporated Management Committees (IMCs) -- separate legal entities that must include elected teacher and parent representatives -- by 2012. Presently, most school management committees are formed by members directly appointed by the School Sponsoring Bodies. The IMCs will be responsible for evaluating teachers and teaching methods as well as the overall quality and structure of schools themselves. Most seriously, the IMCs will not be obliged to respect the philosophy and mission of the sponsoring bodies. AsiaNews reports, "According to Bishop Zen and various other education leaders in Hong Kong, the government measure aims to remove SSB authority and strike down its educational proposals and programs. At the same time, they say, the new legislation strengthens government control over schools."
Pastors Grapple with Issue of Immodest Clothing at Church
The president of the American Decency Association says pastors around the U.S. have been voicing their concerns about the immodest dress they are seeing in their churches. Bill Johnson, who recently distributed an e-mail message addressing the issue, says the Church needs to counter this trend primarily because Christians worship a holy God. "[A]s we come to the house of God on a weekly basis, [we need to recognize] that we are there primarily to bring glory and honor to His name," Johnson says. "It isn't about our attire, and it certainly isn't about self." According to Johnson, numbers of people are expressing "great concern" that individuals -- both young and old -- are not giving much thought to how they come before a holy God and worship Him. Distractions caused by immodest dress can detract from a person's worship experience. Johnson says a true Christian would not knowingly contribute to the downfall of another.