Religion Today Summaries - June 18, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 18, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Pastor Wang Dao Released on Bail, Awaiting Trial
  • Hurricanes, Oil Could Devastate Gulf Communities
  • Southern Baptists Criticize Big Oil, Gay Policies
  • Malawi: Christian Sect in Measles Vaccine Standoff

Pastor Wang Dao Released on Bail, Awaiting Trial

ASSIST News Service reports that Wang Dao, pastor of Liangren Church of Guangzhou, China, was released on June 13 after being imprisoned for more than a month. "He endured arrest on arbitrary charges, threat of exile, and temporary denial of the right to meet with his lawyers," a ChinaAid spokesperson said. Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau sent Wang Dao home on bail to await his trial. His new charge, according to the Certificate of Release, is "hindering the administration of credit cards." This is the fourth time authorities have changed the name of his charge. He was originally detained on suspicion of "gathering a mob to disrupt the public order." Wang Dao's church has been locked out of their rented building, forced to worship outdoors, ordered to disband from a peaceful meeting in a park, and evicted from another rented building.

Hurricanes, Oil Could Devastate Gulf Communities

The Christian Post reports that humanitarian agencies worry the Gulf Coast's children might face hurdles beyond the continuing oil spill this summer. "If storm surges carry the oil slick inland, we have a potential health threat for children and families," said Phyllis Freeman of aid group World Vision. A failed well has dumped millions of gallons into the Gulf since April, and hurricane season has the potential to cause double damage. "If the oil coats homes, clean-up costs for lower-income families or those without insurance may be too much to bear," she added. The National Weather Service has predicted eight to 14 hurricanes in the region this year. "[T]hat means when it's time to go back to school, many of the children here won't have the uniforms or school supplies they need. Add a major hurricane, and we could be looking at a 'perfect storm' for these families' ability to cope," the disaster response director said.

Southern Baptists Criticize Big Oil, Gay Policies

Southern Baptists issued a veiled but sharp critique of the nation's oil companies on June 16, saying "all industries are ... accountable to higher standards than to profit alone." Religion News Service reports that the denomination ended its conference with a resolution praying for the end of the catastrophe and better cooperation between government and business. "We call on Southern Baptists to be ready to assist the communities and churches of the Gulf Coast through the clean-up process with the same generosity of spirit that Southern Baptists exhibited after Hurricane Katrina of 2005," it reads. Baptists also adopted statements stemming from their opposition to homosexuality, opposing the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act and plans to allow openly gay members to serve in the military. While proposed language for ENDA contains an exemption permitting churches to not hire gay staff, but the SBC says bill does not similarly exempt religious bookstores and other ministries.

Malawi: Christian Sect in Measles Vaccine Standoff

A Christian church dedicated to faith healing alone has sealed its members in an abandoned building in Malawi after refusing to let their children receive the measles vaccine. The Associated Press reports that about 100 members of Seventh Day Apostolic Church are inside the building following a major outbreak of the disease in the country. Malawi's government has authorized that six million children under age 15 be vaccinated. "Our church doctrine forbids us from taking any medication because medicines are manufactured by man," Apostle Hosea Biniwasi, a senior elder of the church, told The Associated Press. "It is God's will for man to get sick from time to time. By taking medicines are you trying to challenge God?" Even the Rev. Billy Gama, a religious adviser to the presidency, is involved in negotiations, as officials cannot legally force the parents to comply.