Religion Today Summaries - March 10, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 10, 2006

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

  • Standoff in Kota: Anti-Christian Groups Continue Siege Against Hopegivers in Rajasthan

  • 3 Arrested in Alabama Church Fires Probe

  • Evangelicals More Proactive in Outreach to Homosexuals, Notes Ministry Head

  • Gallup: More Than Half of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible

Standoff in Kota: Anti-Christian Groups Continue Siege Against Hopegivers in Rajasthan

For the second week in a row, anti-Christian hate groups and local police have continued a siege against the 2,500 orphaned and abandoned children protected at the Emmanuel Hope Home in Kota, Rajasthan. The Kota home is funded by Hopegivers International. Eight American volunteers are among the staff working to feed and care for the children at the Kota orphanage. Thousands of Hopegivers sympathizers and supporters have mobilized worldwide prayer in response to the shocking civil and human rights violations that have been committed against Christians in Rajasthan. Human rights activists have also begun a letter-writing campaign to India’s central government in New Delhi asking for emergency protection of the children and staff of Hopegivers’ 65 schools and 13 orphanages in Rajasthan. Local police officials and government authorities in Kota, which have been politicized by Hindu extremist groups, took a series of illegal actions last week to prevent Hopegivers and Rajasthani Christian leaders from offering protection along with educational and medical services to abandoned children. “Of course,” says Hopegivers President Dr. Samuel Thomas, “none of these actions are legal.  The terrorists and hate groups have taken the law into their own hands, and, sadly, we have lost confidence in the local government to control them.” Dr. Thomas, currently directing Hopegivers from an undisclosed location in India says, “Some militants would rather see 100 million children living on the streets of India than to see us care for 10,000 in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

3 Arrested in Alabama Church Fires Probe

Law enforcement officials have announced the arrests of three men in connection with a string of Alabama church fires that had terrorized the state since early February. According to a story in the Baptist Press, The three men are Benjamin Nathan Moseley, 19, of Birmingham; Russell Lee Debusk Jr., 19, of Hoover; and Matthew Lee Cloyd, 20, of Indian Springs. Moseley and DeBusk attend Birmingham-Southern College and Cloyd is a student at the University of Alabama. Officials filed criminal complaints against the three men in connection with arson at nine Baptist church fires in February. It is not known if officials believe the men are connected with a 10th church fire that was set in late February. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley called it a "good day for Alabama" and praised investigators for working together. "[W]e believe this is an isolated incident," Riley said at a news conference. "We don't think that there is any type of conspiracy against organized religion or against the Baptists... [or] against religious beliefs in particular. Alabama and all of the faith-based communities in this state can rest a little easier." Five church fires were set late Feb. 2, followed by another four late Feb. 6. Tire tracks found at the scene of the church fires eventually led investigators to the three men. Jim Cavanaugh, regional director for the ATF, said he felt relief for the churches of Alabama. While declining to answer specific questions about the case at this point, he said that officials are not treating it as a hate crime.

Evangelicals More Proactive in Outreach to Homosexuals, Notes Ministry Head

For years, "It's a sin. Period," was the only response most churches had to homosexuality. But according to the head of a N.C.-based ministry to homosexuals, churches are now beginning to proclaim a new message - one of redemption. In a Christian Post story, Cross Ministry President Tim Wilkins said, "Over the last 4-5 years, I have seen a dramatic change in evangelical churches in their take on the issue. They're much more proactive." Cross Ministry, a member of Exodus International North America, has generated wider attention over recent years as its president travels across the nation to equip the church to evangelize and disciple the homosexual. "The church has a responsibility to proclaim that [homosexuality is a sin], but it also has the responsibility to share the redemptive message. Freedom from homosexuality is a reality and the church has an obligation to speak the truth in love," Wilkins said. The More Than Words conferences emphasize walking versus talking people out of homosexuality. "If words changed things, everything would already be changed," Wilkins pointed out. "Words are important, but we are dealing with an issue... that involves an addiction." The More Than Words Conference will also be held this year at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas on May 6, and First Assembly of God in Raleigh, N.C., on Aug. 12.

Gallup: More Than Half of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible

A story in Editor & Publisher states that a new Gallup report reveals that more than half of all Americans agree with the statement: "God created man exactly how Bible describes it." Another 31% says that man did evolve, but "God guided." Only 12% back evolution and say "God had no part." Gallup summarized it this way: "Surveys repeatedly show that a substantial portion of Americans do not believe that the theory of evolution best explains where life came from." They are "not so quick to agree with the preponderance of scientific evidence." Gallup finds that Republicans back the statement "God created human beings in present form" at a 57% rate, with Democrats at 44%. Support for the biblical view rises steadily with age: from 43% for those 18 to 29, to 59% for those 65 and older. It declines steadily with education, dropping from 58% for those with high school degrees to a still-substantial 25% with postgraduate degrees. Gallup has asked this question, in different forms, going back to 1982, but has consistently shown support at 45% or higher for the notion that "God created man in present form."