Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 29, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 29, 2007

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

  • Dobson’s Focus Shifts from Politics to Parenting
  • Mass. Episcopal Parish Breaking from US Church
  • Christian Organizations Protest Brutal Attack on Catholic Nuns in North India
  • Interfaith Dialogue Ponders Global Conversion Issues

Dobson’s Focus Shifts from Politics to Parenting

According to a story in the Rocky Mountain News, Focus on the Family's number of donors has declined, and those who grew up with Dr. Dobson are now empty-nesters. Therefore, Focus is embarking on a new challenge to engage the young family. Out of public view, a new generation of executives is laying the groundwork for sustaining the conservative Christian group as a cultural and political force once the 71-year-old Dobson has left the scene. Most of their efforts are concentrated not in the political realm, but in finding new ways to deliver marriage and parenting advice to a younger generation of families, many of whom distrust institutions or dislike evangelical engagement in politics. Jim Daly, Focus' 46-year-old president and CEO, shares Dobson's conservative beliefs, but is more likely to talk or blog about his troubled childhood or the challenges of raising his own kids than stage voter-registration rallies. "With (Dobson's) interest in public policy, we have quite a strong bicep in that arena," Daly said. But, "94 percent of our budget goes to marriage and parenting, the bread and butter stuff."

Mass. Episcopal Parish Breaking from US Church

The Boston Globe reports that a conservative Episcopal parish in Marlborough is bolting the denomination, in the latest indication that even in liberal Massachusetts the Episcopal Church is losing congregations over its support for gay rights. Holy Trinity Church is leaving behind its building, renting space in a nearby Methodist church, and affiliating with the Anglican Mission in the Americas, overseen by the Episcopal Church of Rwanda. The small congregation, with about 70 active members, is following a national trend in which conservative Episcopal congregations are leaving the Episcopal Church USA to affiliate with theologically like-minded Anglican provinces in Africa. The Marlborough congregation is the third Massachusetts group of Episcopal parishioners to bolt this year.

Christian Organizations Protest Brutal Attack on Catholic Nuns in North India

Five Roman Catholic nuns were attacked by Hindu radicals in North India, beaten up Oct. 25 while returning from a prayer meeting, ASSIST News Service reports. Salem Voice Ministries reported that a group of 20 activists belonging to Bajrangdal (the Monkey Brigade group), and workers from Dharma Raksha Samiti (a society for protecting the Hindu religion), beat the nuns with sticks. The Hindu activists accused the nuns of persuading people that they needed to convert to Christianity. Global Council of Indian Christians President Dr. Sajan George said, “It is nothing but finding an easy way to justify the brutality done to women, and we will fight ... tooth and nail.” Education Secretary Sr. Christie said, “As a mark of protest we will close all our educational institutions in Indore, and nearby places where these Christian associations operate. If the government do not arrest them, then we will take longer protests in the due course of time.” Archbishop Dr. Leo Cornelio, Chairman of the Catholic Bishops Council of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh said, “We have been suffering silently, but it looks that the fundamental organizations take it as a weakness from our part. It is an attack on women and human freedom.” An emergency meeting of the Christian leaders were called in Bhopal, the state capital, to determine a course of action.

Interfaith Dialogue Ponders Global Conversion Issues

Baptist Press reports that evangelicals should take a cautious view of a proposed code of ethics banning "unethical" efforts to persuade people to accept Christ, two Southern Baptist professors have said. In August, the World Evangelical Alliance joined the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Pontifical Council in a dialogue at Toulouse, France, aimed at creating a code of conduct targeting "undue pressure" on people to change religions. While the initiative affirms the "fundamental, inviolable and non-negotiable right" to spread one's faith, delegates to a May 2006 gathering of the study group also called for religious people to "heal themselves" of the "obsession of converting others." That 2006 gathering included representatives of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and indigenous religious traditions, as well as Roman Catholic and World Council of Churches delegates. The World Evangelical Alliance hopes a code of conduct condemning unethical methods of evangelism will persuade governments to back away from laws that punish people who change their religious affiliation -– and those who encourage them to do so.