Religion Today Summaries - June 18, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 18, 2008

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

  • China: Bookstore Owner to Appear in Court
  • PCA Rejects Deaconess Study Committee
  • Vatican Bans 'Da Vinci' Prequel from Churches
  • More than 1,400 Churches Aim for Becoming ‘One Church’

China: Bookstore Owner to Appear in Court

Compass Direct News reports that Christian bookstore owner Shi Weihan, detained in a Chinese prison without his medication for diabetes, is due in court tomorrow to face as yet unspecified charges. As Shi’s health deteriorates, friends say his wife and two daughters are suffering extreme emotional distress as they are forbidden to visit or pass on the much-needed medication. Police initially arrested Shi on November 28, 2007, charging him with “illegal business practices,” but officials ordered his release on January 4, citing insufficient evidence. He was arrested again on March 19. Shi’s store, located near the Olympic Village, operated legally and sold only books for which he had obtained government permission. According to Compass sources, police have placed Shi’s wife, Zhang Jing, and their two daughters under constant surveillance; Zhang is suffering from depression and the two girls cry often. Police are also monitoring the movements of Shi’s lawyer, sources said, to ensure that he makes no contact with foreign human rights groups.

PCA Rejects Deaconess Study Committee

The Presbyterian Church in America's annual General Assembly voted to dismiss an overture recommending the formation of a study committee on the issue of female deacons, byFaith magazine reported. “This is not a new area of study,” said Fred Greco, who served as the chair of the Overtures Committee, which recommended that the General Assembly dismiss the deaconess overture. “There is plenty of existing material on the subject, and our Book of Church Order is clear [that ordained church officers are to be men].” Bryan Chapell, president of Covenant Theological Seminary, presented the minority report on the issue. “We have to listen to one another,” said Chapell, who serves as president of Covenant Theological Seminary. “We have to be willing to talk about difficult things without fear of demoralizing the church. We must get people together in the same room to talk about [difficult issues] in an atmosphere that’s not highly charged.”

Vatican Bans 'Da Vinci' Prequel from Churches

According to the London Times, filmmakers for a prequel to the 'Da Vinci Code" must recreate several churches in the Vatican and Rome after the Vatican forbid them from filming crucial scenes on church grounds. 'Angels and Demons,' a Dan Brown novel turned movie, has been called "an offense against God" by the Vatican. Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, the head of the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs, said that Brown had “turned the gospels upside down to poison the faith”. He continued, “It would be unacceptable to transform churches into film sets so that his blasphemous novels can be made into films in the name of business." Father Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rome, said: “Normally we read the script but this time it was not necessary. The name Dan Brown was enough.”

More than 1,400 Churches Aim for Becoming ‘One Church’

According to the Christian Post, Life Church pastor Craig Groeschel has launched a month-long series called "One Prayer" in partnership with more than 1,400 churches with more than 800,000 attendees around the world, all sharing sermons via video and a prayer to "make us one." "I wonder if God ever looks at all of His churches, all the Christian churches all over the world, and asks, 'Why can't you guys come together? Why are you so divided when my Son Jesus prayed 'Father, make them one,'" said Groeschel. The series was born more out of repentance than a passion for unity, Groeschel explained. It was his desire not to be competitive against other believers and to instead be united. Unity depends on recognizing the real "one enemy" - Satan - and not other churches, he continued.