Religion Today Summaries - March 29, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 29, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Pro-Life 'October Baby,' Rejected by Major Studios, Has Top-10 Opening Weekend
  • Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Still Alive Despite False Execution Rumors
  • Report Says Church Giving on the Rebound
  • Lao Officials Arrest Five Christians in Southern Village


Pro-Life 'October Baby,' Rejected by Major Studios, Has Top-10 Opening Weekend

The pro-life film October Baby finished in the box office top 10 its opening weekend despite playing in only 390 theaters nationwide, and earned the second-highest per-screen average with almost $2 million in ticket sales, Fox News reports. The movie, which follows the journey of a young women who learns she was almost aborted but instead given up for adoption at the last minute, almost never came to be, however: "The film couldn't find a home, no studio wanted to touch it," said director Jon Erwin. "There was a real moment of despair at one point; the film wasn't finished and nobody would take a look at it. But every time we screened it, it attracted such intense emotional reactions. So we had to raise the money ourselves, and the release process took much longer than we wanted." Erwin said he is hoping for a wider release next month; communities wanting to see the film are forming "action squads" in which Christian schools, churches and residents are coming together to buy a certain amount of tickets to cover costs, he said.

Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Still Alive Despite False Execution Rumors

The American Center for Law and Justice has confirmed that imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was still alive as of March 26. New false reports about Pastor Nadarkhani's execution continue to surface, but it is unknown whether those reports are originating from a misinformation campaign initiated by Iran or simply from uninformed sources. Many of the incorrect reports are being posted on blogs and social media sites along with an image of an Iranian man standing in front of a gallows with two armed, masked guards, but the image is not of Pastor Nadarkhani and has been circulating since at least July 2011. "These demonstratively false rumors about Pastor Youcef's death are detrimental to his freedom and potential release," the ACLJ said in a statement. "It also causes unnecessary anxiety for the family members awaiting his release and the millions of people who are praying for him around the world."

Report Says Church Giving on the Rebound

The recession has caused a decline in church offerings in recent years, but a new study shows that giving to U.S. congregations bounced back in 2011, the Religion News Service reports. According to the fourth annual "State of the Plate" survey released March 27, 51 percent of churches last year saw an increase in giving, up from 43 percent in 2010 and 36 percent in 2009. "[2011] is the first time we're seeing an upswing after three very hard years," said Brian Kluth, founder of MAXIMUM Generosity and the "State of the Plate" research. The survey included small and large churches, although more than half had fewer than 250 members. Church leaders attributed the increase in giving to better attendance, which was reported by half the churches surveyed. Many others also cited their efforts to address giving and generosity with the congregation.

Lao Officials Arrest Five Christians in Southern Village

Officials in a village in southern Laos on March 25 arrested and detained five Christians during worship and charged them with leading a religious movement without official approval, Compass Direct News reports. The five Christians from Palansai district were attending a worship service in a private home in the nearby village of Boukham in Ad-Sapangthong district, where they had previously attended many services without interference from authorities. Officials strongly oppose small groups meeting outside the umbrella of the government-approved Lao Evangelical Church (LEC), but many Christians prefer meeting as house churches because of strict controls over LEC activities. "This is typical of Laos now," a pastor from the capital, Vientiane, said. "In Vientiane we see things opening up a little. But the law is fluid. Things can change from day to day, and the situation is still very difficult in the provinces."

Publication date: March 29, 2012