Religion Today Summaries, May 22, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, May 22, 2003

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

In today's edition:

  • TV News Editors Cover Religion But Half Say Other Topics More Important

  • Vietnamese Christians Suffer Horrendous Persecution

  • Christians Fear More Female Bombers in Israel

  • Parents Television Council Finds Decreases in Sex on TV

TV News Editors Cover Religion but Half Say Other Topics More Important
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Television news editors cover religious holidays and other local faith-related events but half of them do not believe religion is as important as health, science or business news, a new survey shows. The survey, released Tuesday (May 20) by the Interreligious Information Center, found that all 41 news editors who responded said their stations
cover religious holidays and local events of the various faith groups in their community. A total of 100 questionnaires were e-mailed to TV news editors by students from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the funder of the survey. Forty-nine percent of the news editors said religion is not as important as health, science or business news. About one-third said it was as important as those other news topics. Almost nine out of 10 news editors said they used clergy and other religious leaders on news broadcasts, interview programs and discussion forums to cover national and international stories such as pedophilia, the pope, President Bush and the war in Iraq. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they believed religion is an important part of the lives of people living in their area. 

Vietnamese Christians Suffer Horrendous Persecution
Christian Aid Mission

The 2003 persecution list issued by Open Doors International ranks Vietnam as the third greatest persecutor of Christians worldwide, up from fourth last year. A confidential report just received by Christian Aid highlights some recent persecution incidents: In LK province, Pastor Sung and his whole family were beaten with rocks and clubs. His son's arms were tied to his back and he was hung upside down from the ceiling because the family members would not renounce their faith in Christ. Another pastor was beaten and put in jail for one week for refusing to set up an altar for ancestor worship in his house. He was forced to tell his church members to give up their faith. "Hundreds of similar stories were told during my visits with the indigenous pastors," Christian Aid's contact said. Several months ago there were over 400 churches in Dac Lac Province. According to the contact, there are now only three churches that are still operating legally and openly. Meanwhile, hundreds of pastors and gospel workers have been imprisoned by authorities in Gia Lai and Kontum provinces, while hundreds of Mnong and Ede pastors and believers in Dac Lac Province also have been arrested.

Christians Fear More Female Bombers in Israel
Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), a Christian organization supporting Jewish people, said Wednesday May 21, that terrorists are now using female suicide bombers as part of an apparent shift in strategy. "The Palestinian who killed three people at the Afula mall on Monday (May 19) was the first female suicide bomber for which a religious terrorist organization claimed credit," the ICEJ said. Hiba Da'arma, from a northern Jordan Valley village, was said to be the fifth female suicide bomber. "Secular Fatah militias recruited the other four, but this attack was a joint venture - Fatah supplied the bomber, Islamic Jihad supplied explosives and transportation,” the ICEJ News Service said. The ICEJ warned that the "increased and now accepted use of female suicide bombers in Palestinian society presents a problem for Israeli security, since it widens the profile of potential perpetrators." Like Hamas, Islamic Jihad originally raised both religious and social objections to female bombers. "But the cooperation this time suggests that the Islamic organizations have overcome religious and social objections to using women. Even Hamas, which still says it would not use a woman as a bomber, has begun using women in supporting roles,” said the ICEJ.

Parents Television Council Finds Decreases in Sex on TV
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Almost every broadcast network saw a marked decrease in sexual content during the evening "family hour" between 1998 and 2002, the Parents Television Council reports. With the exception of the WB, every broadcast network decreased its sexual content from 8 to 9 p.m. in recent years. All the networks except the WB and UPN also showed a reduction in such content during the hour from 9 to 10 p.m. "For years, conventional wisdom in Hollywood had it that `sex sells,' and therefore the more of it, the better," said L. Brent Bozell, president of the PTC. "But ratings data and survey results prove that's not true. Parents don't want their kids to be exposed to irresponsible messages and explicit depictions of sex on TV -- but more than that, parents don't want to see it either." The council found that sexual content during the family hour dropped 67 percent on ABC from 1998 to 2002. In that same period, similar content decreased 48 percent on Fox, 13 percent on UPN and 6 percent on CBS. NBC's sexual content during the family hour decreased by 34 percent from 2000 to 2002. The researchers looked at 400 program hours of prime-time entertainment on the major broadcast television networks during the first two weeks of the 1998, 2000 and 2002 November sweeps periods.

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