Religion Today Summaries - May 15, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 15, 2008

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

  • China Aid Asks World Churches to Pray for Earthquake Victims
  • Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Ministering to Mother’s Day Weekend Tornado Victims
  • Relief Assessment Begins in China
  • Bills Would Give Teachers Freedom Teaching Evolution

China Aid Asks World Churches to Pray for Earthquake Victims

A ministry to the people of China is calling upon the churches of the world to pray for and provide aid for the victims of the earthquake in Sichuan province, ASSIST News Service reports. China Aid Association (CAA) released a statement that it "mourns with the suffering Chinese people during this moment of great loss." CAA is actively collaborating with the Chinese house churches to send love gifts to help survivors. Meanwhile, CAA says it has learned that earlier this week, in spite of the attention garnered by of the rescue efforts for victims of the earthquake, one house church Bible School in Hebei was raided and forced to close. CAA says three computer hard disks were taken and the students were dispersed back to their hometowns forcefully. This particular Bible school was established in 2006 by missionaries from South Korea.

Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Ministering to Mother’s Day Weekend Tornado Victims

ASSIST News Service reports that the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has deployed to three additional locations in the wake of the deadliest tornado season in a decade across the United States. These deployments range from Oklahoma to Georgia. A media release says that in Oklahoma, the Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains are initially basing their ministry out of Picher, a small town of 800 in the northeastern part of the state which, according to the Associated Press, was home to six of the 22 people who died over the weekend. The Picher team is branching out Joplin, Missouri as well. 14 people in southwestern Missouri were killed by tornadoes. In Georgia, the chaplains will be working alongside Samaritan's Purse in Bibb County, where an estimated 2,000 homes were damaged. "We tend to feel so safe at home, like tragedies will never touch us," says Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. "But this year has shown us again that death and destruction can literally drop out of the sky... That's why it's so important to respond immediately with love, hope and comfort in the midst of the physical and emotional storm."

Relief Assessment Begins in China

Baptist Press reports that Southern Baptist relief workers are in touch with partners in central China to assess needs created by the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck the region May 12. At least 12,000 people were killed and more than 26,000 injured. Another 18,000 people are believed trapped in piles of rubble in the city of Mianyang alone. "We have been in contact with partners in the country and have offered help," said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response. "Assessments are being made as to what the response should be." A meeting of Christian organizations in the United States is expected to be held May 14 "to better coordinate our overall effort to respond," Palmer added. The Chinese government has said it will accept international relief supplies but has so far declined offers of aid workers because of damage to lines of transportation.

Bills Would Give Teachers Freedom Teaching Evolution

According to a Baptist Press report, Ben Stein's movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," out less than a month, is already apparently having a significant impact in the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools. Legislatures in three states -- Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri -- are considering academic freedom bills that would give teachers greater protection and freedom in teaching the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. Passage of any of the bills would be a first for any state. Similar bills in Alabama and Florida died this month, although the ones in the other states, particularly Louisiana, seem to stand a better chance. "There has definitely been a raising of consciousness among people that there is a problem of censoring scientific information that challenges evolution," said Casey Luskin of The Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that supports the bills. "I think 'Expelled' definitely has played a role. However, this [issue] isn't something that is brand-new.... I just think that the message is really getting out right now and the consciousness of our nation is really being raised to the fact that this is a very big problem."