Religion Today Summaries - May 6, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 6, 2008

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

  • Only 5% of Adults Tithed Last Year, Barna Survey Says
  • Missionaries Struggle as Dollar's Value Declines
  • Taxpayer Dollars Fund Islamic Public School in Minnesota
  • Myanmar Death Toll Could Top 10,000, Foreign Minister Says

Only 5% of Adults Tithed Last Year, Barna Survey Says

Baptist Press reports that only five percent of American adults donated 10 percent or more of their income to churches and charitable groups last year, according to a study by The Barna Group. Within the randomly selected group of 1,006 adults surveyed, Christians tended to give more than others. "Among the most generous segments were evangelicals (24 percent of whom tithed); conservatives (12 percent); people who had prayed, read the Bible and attended a church service during the past week (12 percent); charismatic or Pentecostal Christians (11 percent); and registered Republicans (10 percent)," George Barna said. The segments of society who were highly unlikely to tithe included people under the age of 25, atheists and agnostics, single adults who have never been married, liberals and adults who make less than $20,000 per year, the research indicated.

Missionaries Struggle as Dollar's Value Declines

The Charlotte Observer tells the story of American missionary Phil Davis, whose family receives a deposit of American money in his Czech bank account every month. And every month, he sees that deposit shrink. The Davises moved to Prague three years ago to start a church. But since then, they've noticed that the money they raised to support their work overseas does not go nearly as far as it once did. Missionaries serving internationally are particularly at risk as the dollar declines, since many depend on money raised years before they left, when exchange rates were more favorable. It leaves the Davises and fellow missionaries facing questions like: Should they move to a smaller house farther from those they're trying to reach? Where can they save on groceries? Can they raise enough money to stay? "It's kind of like the frog in the kettle thing," Phil Davis said. "It just creeps up on you." But all is not glum: "(Missionaries) are totally dependent on the Lord to carry them through, and he does, and the work goes on," said Vince Eaton, coordinator of the missions/outreach leadership team at Calvary Church in Charlotte. "It's not going to stop the spread of the Gospel, believe me."

Taxpayer Dollars Fund Islamic Public School in Minnesota

Baptist Press reports that taxpayers are funding an Islamic public school in Minnesota even in a culture that would not tolerate the funding of a Christian school, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy was founded in 2003 by two imams who were leaders of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS-MN), and it shares the Muslim society's headquarters building along with a mosque. Most of the 300 students are from low-income Muslim immigrant families, and the school has a waiting list of 1,500. "TIZA uses the language of culture rather than religion to describe its program in public documents," the Star-Tribune report says. "According to its mission statement, the school 'recognizes and appreciates the traditions, histories, civilizations and accomplishments of the eastern world (Africa, Asia and Middle East).'" However, the report says, "the line between religion and culture is often blurry. There are strong indications that religion plays a central role at TIZA, which is a public school financed by Minnesota taxpayers."

Myanmar Death Toll Could Top 10,000, Foreign Minister Says

The Christian Post reports that the death toll from a devastating cyclone in Myanmar could reach more than 10,000, the country's foreign minister warned Monday. Tropical Cyclone Nargis hit the Southeast Asian country, formerly Burma, early Saturday with winds of up to 120 mph. Hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless. "The government misled people. They could have warned us about the severity of the coming cyclone so we could be better prepared," said Thin Thin, a grocery store owner. One radio report said 3,939 people had already been killed. Foreign Minister Nyan Win reportedly told diplomats that the death toll could rise to more than 10,000 in the Irrawaddy delta. The U.S. State Department said Myanmar's government had not granted permission for a Disaster Assistance Response Team into the country. Laura Blank, spokeswoman for World Vision, said two assessment teams have been sent to the hardest hit areas to determine the most urgent needs. She called the situation, "probably the most devastating natural disaster in Southeast Asia since the tsunami" of 2004.