Religion Today Summaries, July 21, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 21, 2003

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

  • Couple Imprisoned Because of Conversion in Egypt
  • Christian Retail Industry Strives to Compete with General Retail
  • Religion an Issue in July Elections
  • Canadian Christian TV Pioneer Steps Down

Couple Imprisoned Because of Conversion in Egypt
Charisma News Service

A Christian couple has spent months in prison because of the wife's conversion. Naglaa, a Christian convert from Islam, and her husband, Malak Gawargios Fahmy, were imprisoned in mid-February in an effort to force Naglaa to give up her Christian faith. The pair was arrested at the airport as they tried to leave Egypt for Cyprus reportedly because Naglaa had a forged passport and identification card. "Becoming Christian shouldn't be a crime punishable by a prison sentence," Egyptian church leaders said. "It is strictly forbidden to convert from Islam to Christianity ... although the opposite happens hundreds and even thousands of times. Freedom of religion should be a human right to all, and conversions should take place with each person's own accord." Prayer for the couple and for their 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son is being urged. "Pray for wisdom, guidance and strength for church leaders, lawyers and others involved in Naglaa and Malak's case," an article quoted. "Pray for the police and the authorities involved that they will have compassion and mercy on this family and allow their immediate release."

Christian Retail Industry Strives to Compete with General Retail
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service

Officials of CBA, the trade organization for the Christian retail industry, have announced plans to help Christian stores "be the retailers of choice" as general retail stores increasingly carry Christian products. "The truth is, our products are so compelling and so in demand that they have attracted big-league competitors," CBA President and CEO Bill Anderson said in a statement. Anderson was referring to such secular retail operations as Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores, Wal-Mart and Kmart stores and Sam's Club and Costco warehouse clubs. "With Christian products being sold in more places, some may wonder if our association is considering changing to serve these other channels, and the answer is no," Anderson said. "Our aim is to help our members become highly skilled and effective Christian retailers who are making a major impact for the kingdom through the products, experiences and services they provide."  The CBA has revised its mission statement to read "to help our members be the retailers of choice for consumers buying Christian products." Additionally, CBA leaders have begun a new initiative to help streamline the process through which stores are supplied with products. The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and the Gospel Music Association will be part of this "supply chain" initiative. "This is about the survival of Christian retail," Anderson said.

Religion an Issue in July Elections
Compass Direct

Christians in Cambodia fear the issue of religion may be a key factor in national elections set for July 27. Ken Huff from the evangelistic "Book of Hope" project has claimed the major opposition group, the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), was trying to win votes earlier this year by speaking out against Christianity. Bruce Hutchinson of Call to Prayer Ministries reports that the SRP used a cult group's claim that the ancient temples of Angkor Wat were built by Jehovah to stir opposition to Christians and gain political leverage. "In a country that reacts extremely to rumors, and is developing a strong culture of nationalism based on their cultural and Buddhist roots, this is something of a concern," said Hutchinson. The majority of Cambodia's 12.4 million people are Buddhists who mix beliefs from ancient Khmer, Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Religious freedom is protected in the Cambodian Constitution, but Christians often face persecution and opposition, particularly in rural areas.

Canadian Christian TV Pioneer Steps Down
Charisma News Service

The founder and host of a long-running Canadian Christian TV show is stepping down to commune with Canada's aboriginal people and campaign against same-sex marriage. David Mainse, 67, who started "100 Huntley Street" more than 41 years ago, made the announcement during the show Wednesday. A Canadian Methodist missionary's son, Mainse said it's time to move on. "My wife and I believe that our primary focus of our time and energy is to be involved with our native people in helping to address some of the difficulties that are there," said Mainse. But he is also intent "on the maintaining of the word marriage to mean a man and a woman." Courts in Canada have ruled that it is unconstitutional to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, and the federal government has announced it would not appeal those decisions. Instead, it will introduce legislation to allow same-sex marriages and hold a vote in the fall. Mainse plans to work to preserve the status quo of marriage. "Anything that changes the meaning of a word which has been within the human family, weakens the word," he said. "It dilutes it. ... To me this is a religious issue and therefore it's on my turf. So I have a lot to learn and a long way to go."

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