Religion Today Summaries - March 27, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 27, 2006

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

  • Navy Secretary Implements New Prayer Guidelines
  • Study Finds Attending Religious Revival Services Increases Family Harmony, Quality of Life
  • Global Protest Increasing Against Jailing of Christians in Rajasthan
  • BJP Pressured Indian State to Harrass Christians, Panel Finds

Navy Secretary Implements New Prayer Guidelines

According to CitizenLink, a new policy imposed by U.S. Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter tells chaplains to pray only "nonsectarian" prayers when they are part of any function outside the chapel doors. Navy Lt. Gordon J. Klingenschmitt said the policy means naval commanders can now dictate when a prayer is said and what it can contain. He said that violates the First Amendment rights of chaplains like him. "The basic gist is that a chaplain's speech is only covered inside the chapel," Klingenschmitt said. "But if we talk about Jesus outside the chapel, we can be punished by our commanding officers with the full authority of the secretary of the Navy." The guidelines say, except for religious services, no prayers can be said onboard ship or at public events without the prior approval of a commanding officer. Navy spokesman Lt. William Marks, however, said the Navy is not saying a chaplain can't say "in Jesus' name" in a prayer — but he did say that prayers in public ceremonies, such as retirements or promotions, should reflect the Navy's "pluralistic" audience.

Study Finds Attending Religious Revival Services Increases Family Harmony, Quality of Life

In the most recent issue of Education and Urban Society, William Jeynes, a professor at California State University in Long Beach, conducted a study using three groups of randomly selected students to study the effects of attending religious revival services at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. According to the New York Times, the Brownsville Revival is the most significant event of its kind in the last half-century, with about 4 million attending since 1995. Jeynes randomly selected 150 individuals - 50 who had attended the revival services, 50 who were waiting in line to attend the services, and 50 from across the country matched by zip code with those who attended the revival services. Those who attended the revival services were much more likely than the General Control Group to report an increase in the quality of their lives and the quality of their family life. They were also more likely to report improvements in school behavior and a reduction in their use of illegal drugs and alcohol, though there was no discernable influence on a students' grade point average.

Global Protest Increasing Against Jailing of Christians in Rajasthan

Accoring to a release from The B&B Media Group, the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations in the USA (FIOCONA) has joined with thousands of Christians all over India and around the world to protest the growing persecution of religious minorities in Rajasthan. “Our letter writing campaign is working,” says Executive Director Michael Glenn, “we must continue to write and fax letters of protest this week.” Because of the campaign, Mr. Glenn said, “The Prime Minister of India has today appointed a four-member commission to investigate the persecution in Kota where our president and top administrative staff have been falsely accused and jailed. This is simply a naked effort to force Emmanuel to shut its doors.” Hopegivers is asking Christians in the USA to write to their Senators and Congressmen this week to stop the persecution of Christian humanitarian work in Rajasthan. They are also asking for letters and faxes to the White House, the State Department, the United Nations, and the Indian ambassadors to the US and the UN. Hopegivers has organized a Legal Defense Fund to help free Dr. Thomas and the staff. Hopegivers lawyers are seeking to post bond at bail hearings this week and make legal appeals. Aupporters of Hopegivers are asking the central government in India to reverse a series of politically motivated attacks on the orphanages, churches, schools and the hospital operated by Emmanuel Ministries International. Emmanuel Ministries has been based in Kota since 1960 and has operated social services to the poor there without regard to caste or creed since 1973.

BJP Pressured Indian State to Harrass Christians, Panel Finds

A day after a mission organization’s president was given three more days in police custody, a delegation from the All India Christian Council today has submitted a report to the prime minister concluding that Rajasthan state is harassing Christians due to pressure from the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Compass Direct reports that during a three-day tour of the Kota area that ended yesterday, the delegation also met with Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) President Samuel Thomas in police custody. Thomas told the delegation that he had not been mistreated but that he was worried about EMI’s orphanage and the hospital. At the hospital, the delegation found patients had not received adequate care because of police presence and threats that if anyone were treated, staff members would be arrested and the facility closed down.