Religion Today Summaries - June 12, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 12, 2006

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

  • Imprisoned Christians in Bhutan Request Urgent Prayer and Action

  • Dalits Free from Anti-Conversion Restriction

  • Police Harass Christians in Florida

  • Episcopal Church Prepares for Convention amid Widening Anglican Rift

Imprisoned Christians in Bhutan Request Urgent Prayer and Action

Jubilee Campaign has received an urgent request from “reliable sources” within Bhutan for prayer and action for two Christians who have been imprisoned there. A spokesperson for Jubilee Campaign told ASSIST News Service, “We have been praying for two brothers, Benjamin and John Dai, who were arrested in Bhutan on January 8, 2006, in the western part of Bhutan. They were imprisoned without trial for six months and suddenly they have been sentenced. Benjamin received a sentence of three-and-a-half years in prison and John was sentenced to three years. They were given the provision of ten days to appeal to the court for bail and then to fight the case with the help of prominent lawyer. In Bhutan the government is always right we are always wrong. So there is very little chance of winning the case unless there is intervention from high. So they need your urgent prayer.”

Dalits Free from Anti-Conversion Restriction

Christian leaders are expressing joy and relief over the recent repeal of an anti-conversion law in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The law specifically listed Dalits, who make up approximately one fifth of Tamil Nadu's population, as one group restricted from evangelism efforts. The newly-formed Tamil Nadu legislature introduced a bill on May 29 to repeal the four-year-old "Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act." It went unopposed on the floor and was passed May 31. "Thank God for this welcome change," said Gospel for Asia president K.P. Yohannan. "The law had been a heavy burden on our state and district leaders."

Police Harass Christians in Florida

According to a Family News in Focus story, John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council was collecting signatures at a booth leased from Promise Keepers during their event when Sunrise, FL police Sergeant Stephen Allen ordered the petitions removed. “And I asked him what the legal basis for that was, and unbelievably he begins to tell me that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality... that we were totally out of line, that this is a waste of our time.” After a bizarre interchange that included Allen kissing another officer on the cheek and doubting Stemberger's credentials as a lawyer, Stemberger was threatened with arrest. The situation was only defused when a city official intervened and ordered Allen to stand down. "Organizations like ours exist because these are very, very common events, ” said Rick Nelson of the American Liberties Institute, Stemberger's attorney.

Episcopal Church Prepares for Convention amid Widening Anglican Rift

How to heal the feuds over gay clergy and other rifts, and manage to hold together 77 million followers around the world? That was the question of the Archbishop of Canterbury around Easter this year regarding the Anglican/Episcopalian church. But a deeper question – being asked with increasing urgency – is whether it's worth the effort. On Tuesday, the Episcopal Church begins its General Convention in Columbus, Ohio seeking answers to the above questions. What's at stake: A nearly 500-year-old religious tradition going back to King Henry VIII's famous break from the Vatican to establish the Church of England. But the modern reality is even messier, says a story in The Christian Post. Factions have engaged in theological combat, conservative dioceses are withholding money, congregations are looking for leadership – and the Anglican Communion has no central authority or doctrine to try to rally around. "It's a terrible commentary on institutional Christianity of any kind" that after 2,000 years of tradition, the rules have to be set, said the Rev. Paul Zahl, dean of the conservative Trinity Episcopal for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa. "It's disturbing... sort of theological shellshock."