Religion Today Summaries - July 14, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 14, 2005

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

  • 30th Anniversary Of The World's Largest Ex-Homosexual Ministry

  • Paraguay: Tribal Areas Infiltrated by Guerrillas 

  • Tulsa Zoo Backs Out, Bars Proposed Biblical Creation Exhibit 

  • Egypt

30th Anniversary Of The World's Largest Ex-Homosexual Ministry
Agape Press

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the world's largest ex-homosexual ministry, Exodus International. The ministry is commemorating the milestone at its annual “Freedom Conference”, scheduled for the week of July 18 at Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center in Asheville, North Carolina. This largest annual gathering of former homosexuals will feature more than 60 speakers, including many experts in the fields of gender identity, counseling, and theology. Exodus International president and former homosexual Alan Chambers says both the organization and the "ex-gay movement" have seen tremendous growth over the past 30 years, and "We continue to hear from many who are hungry to hear about the freedom we have experienced." He adds that the world is often unaware of the hundreds of thousands of people, like himself, who accepted the false "born-gay" message and silently struggled with unwanted same-sex attractions. This year the “Freedom Conference” offers a new feature specifically targeting young people -- its first Youth Day event, designed to facilitate discussion with teens on issues surrounding biblical sexuality. (www.exodus2005.org/freedom/index.cfm)

Paraguay: Tribal Areas Infiltrated by Guerrillas
Christian Aid Mission

On their recent visit to remote tribal congregations, a team of native missionaries in Paraguay discovered that leftist guerrillas, apparently from Colombia, had been infiltrating rural communities with their ideologies. "The area has become very dangerous now," one of the missionaries wrote Christian Aid after the visit. "The Colombian guerrillas have tried to indoctrinate the population, and they are creating conflicts." Communist groups often target poor, isolated communities, like the tribal ones reached by native missionaries, to recruit fighters. They play off of residents' hopeless poverty with promises of wealth, or intimidate and force them into joining their ranks. Native missionaries are offering these tribal communities a different kind of hope through the gospel of Christ. Despite growing dangers, one ministry leader reports, "the truth is we can't stop preaching the gospel here because there is a great burden in our hearts for the souls that may go without hearing about Jesus." In addition to sharing their faith, these missionaries provide food, clothing and medical care to poverty- stricken villagers. They also run an orphanage for tribal children and a vocational training program for poor adults. Pray for safety for these brave servants of God.

Tulsa Zoo Backs Out, Bars Proposed Biblical Creation Exhibit
Jim Brown, AgapePress

The Tulsa Zoo in Oklahoma is being accused of censoring an exhibit that explains the Genesis account of creation. A month after approving the display, the Tulsa Park and Recreation Board reversed course and voted 3-1 to disallow the proposed biblical creation exhibit. The board cited public outcry over the creation display as one reason for the reversal. Also, a Dallas Morning News report quoted one of the board members who changed his vote as saying that he and his colleagues had gained "much better perception" than they'd had at the time of the original vote, and it had become clear that their best option would be to "leave the zoo just as it is." Dan Hicks, the local Christian architect who the proposed the biblical creation exhibit, has condemned the oversight board's change of heart as a violation of Tulsa taxpayers constitutional liberties. He maintains there must be something very special about the Genesis account of creation for the Park and Recreation board to insist on suppressing it, especially when the zoo already features religious symbols in other displays, including a statue of an elephant-like, Hindu deity.

Egypt
Charisma News Service

A convert to Christianity who was forcibly committed in a Cairo mental hospital for five months was recently discharged and set free. On June 9, Gasir Mohammed Mahmoud, 31, was reportedly released after international publicity released in May focused attention on his case, Compass Direct reported. A resident of the city of Suez, Mahmoud was committed to the El-Khanka Hospital in early January by his adoptive Muslim parents after they learned he had become a Christian two years earlier. Mahmoud's supervising physician told him that he would never be allowed to leave the hospital unless he came back to Islam. Mahmoud told Compass that the doctor who discharged him called his adoptive mother and asked her to come and collect him from the hospital. "But she told me not to return to Suez," Mahmoud said, noting that his mother warned him of facing problems there, both from his father and the state security police. Egyptian law forbids Muslims the right to change their official religious identity when they become Christians, although non-Muslims can freely convert to Islam and legally change their identification cards from Christian to Muslim. Authorities regularly harass, interrogate and arrest Muslim citizens suspected to have converted to Christianity, Compass reported. (www.charismanews.com)

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