Religion Today Summaries - November 17, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 17, 2004

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

  • Survey Reveals Nation's Unchurched Has Doubled in Last Decade

  • Endorsing Christian-based Education vs. Public Schools Continues To Stir Controversy

  • Indonesia: Christian-Muslim Conflict Intensifies

  • India:  Kidnapped Pastor Has Been Released

Survey Reveals Nation's Unchurched Has Doubled in Last Decade
Charisma News Service

The proportion of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has doubled in the last decade and now stands at 16 percent of the population. That's some of the findings of a new study on religious identity, which noted that only Catholics (24 percent) and Baptists (17 percent) outnumber the people who don't identify themselves with organized religion, "The Los Angeles Times" reported. Based on telephone interviews with more than 10,000 people, the nationwide survey by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research in San Francisco said about one in six answered "none" or "no religion" or described themselves as secular, humanist, ethical-culturalist, agnostic or atheist. Their ranks will continue to grow, and they'll soon outnumber Baptists, said Gary Tobin, president of the institute and a co-author of the study titled "The Decline of Religious Identity in the United States." Residents of the West lead the nation in the proportion of those who don't identify with a religion -- 24 percent compared to 14 percent for the rest of the country, except New England, which had 21 percent. Men are less likely to identify with a religious denomination than women, 20 percent to 13 percent. The study also found that those raised without a religion are much more likely than others to have children who have no religion. And in mixed-religion families, children reared in both parents' religions are more likely not to choose any religion. (

Endorsing Christian-based Education vs. Public Schools Continues To Stir Controversy

The debate among Southern Baptists over whether to endorse Christian-based education versus public schools continues to stir controversy.  Last summer, at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, a resolution calling for parents to withdraw their children from what was termed "officially Godless" government schools in favor of religious education was rejected before it even reached the floor.  But the matter has resurfaced in recent days at some state association meetings, the latest being in Tennessee.  Pastor Larry Reagan authored a resolution which, he said, was meant to promote Christian education rather than attack public education.  But once again, it was defeated in committee.  However, a few weeks ago in Missouri, the outcome was different.  There, a resolution -- adopted by association delegates without debate -- talked about the "inherent dangers of secular education philosophies that now permeate America's public education system."  According to an Associated Press report, it went on to affirm the importance of systematically training ourselves and our children in the ways of authentic biblical Christianity.

Indonesia: Christian-Muslim Conflict Intensifies

A spate of violence against non-Muslims, particularly Christians, in recent months has raised the specter of past bloody jihads in Indonesia. Violence between Muslims and nominal Christians on the island re-ignited with a dispute last month over land. Over 1000 people are fleeing the conflict. Indonesia has a larger Islamic population than any other country in the world. Some 80% of over 200 million inhabitants are Muslims. Although they had lived together peacefully for years, Christians and Muslims began to have violent clashes on some islands in the 1990s. These eventually led to an all- out effort by militant Muslims to eliminate Christianity on islands such as Halmahera, Sulawesi, Bacan and Ambon. During the jihad, which lasted from 1999- 2002, Christians were rounded up and tortured in an attempt to force them to convert to Islam. Many who refused were killed. Hundreds of churches and villages were destroyed, and thousands of people had to flee as refugees to other islands. This kind of widespread, organized violence has not erupted for the past two years, yet the residual conflict is ongoing. Muslim animosity has led to closures of many churches on several islands. Missionaries report that evangelistic activity has been hindered, but they continue to spread the gospel of peace with courage. 

India:  Kidnapped Pastor Has Been Released
Charisma News Service

A Gospel for Asia (GfA) pastor who was recently kidnapped has been released. Pastor Tulsiram, who leads a growing church in Chattisgarh with 50 new believers, was freed on Oct. 6. A day earlier, Tulsiram and Vijay, another pastor from his church, were preparing to baptize 32 new believers when they were beaten in front of their congregation and dragged away. Vijay managed to escape, but Tulsiram was detained overnight and beaten repeatedly. His kidnappers told him to leave the village or be killed. The death threat came after converts from Tulsiram's congregation told village leaders how the gospel had changed their lives. Elsewhere, Pastor Kumar, a GfA native missionary in the southern state of Karnataka, has received death threats in the last month for his evangelistic work. "A mob came to pastor Kumar's home and beat him. Before leaving, they delivered their ultimatum: If he conducted Sunday services, they would kill him in front of his wife and son," said GfA president K.P. Yohannan, Assist News Service reported. Please intercede for pastor Kumar, and earnestly ask the Lord to protect his life and those of the new believers in this village of Karnataka State," Yohannan said. "Pray God will give our GfA leaders wisdom to know how to handle this situation." (