Religion Today Summaries, October 1, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, October 1, 2003

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

  • Christian Crackdown Continues in Eritrea 

  • Abstinence Taken Off the Air in Nevada: Candidate Blames Liberal Groups

  • Americans in their 20s Less Likely to Attend Church, Read Bible

  • School Bans Homosexual Propaganda

Christian Crackdown Continues in Eritrea
Charisma News Service

Continuing a nationwide crackdown against Christians, police in the Eritrean capital of Asmara recently arrested 12 believers who were meeting in a house for worship. Nearly all those arrested were young people and members of the Dubre Bethel Church in Asmara. The police chief demanded that each of the jailed Christians pledge in writing to deny their faith in order to be released. When the six women and six men refused, the chief ordered that all their food ration be withheld. Meanwhile, church leaders have been unable to get information on 57 young believers arrested and locked into metal containers since Aug. 19, as punishment for having Bibles with them during their summer military camp at Sawa. Local authorities have also refused to give any information about the status and whereabouts of 10 Christians arrested Aug. 24 in Massawa. At least 230 Christians are currently jailed for their faith in Eritrea, where the government refuses to give recognition to any faiths except the four "official" religions: Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran. Some 12 independent Pentecostal and charismatic denominations which represent 20,000 adherents have been targeted in the African nation since May 2002, when they were ordered to close their church buildings and stop all meetings for worship, even in homes.

Abstinence Taken Off the Air in Nevada: Candidate Blames Liberal Groups
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A candidate for the U.S. Senate is criticizing the Nevada State Health Division's decision to pull an abstinence advertisement from the radio. The public service announcement encourages teenage girls to abstain from premarital sex, implying that not doing so could leave them feeling "dirty and cheap." The Nevada Health Division dropped the radio ad after concluding that its language was not appropriate for the audience it hoped to reach. But pro-family politician Richard Ziser believes the Health Division caved in to political correctness. The Senate-seat hopeful heard the ad on the air and was surprised at the nature of it, and "actually quite pleased," he says. According to Ziser, the source of the controversy about the ad is obvious. "Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union are the ones who are complaining," he says. Ziser felt the abstinence ad was both effective and accurate, but he says he is not surprised that the Nevada health officials pulled it. He says the abstinence message promoted in the radio spot would not have been "a natural thing" for Nevada's health officials to endorse. The pro-family politician, who is attempting to unseat incumbent Democrat Harry Reid, says abstinence is the only effective way to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

Americans in their 20s Less Likely to Attend Church, Read Bible
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service

Americans in their 20s are less likely to attend church or read the Bible than older Americans, a Barna Research Group study has found. Thirty-one percent of twentysomethings attend a worship service in a typical week, compared to 42 percent of those in their 30s and 49 percent of adults ages 40 and older. The level of Bible reading also decreases by age group.  The comparisons on giving are more dramatic: 30 percent of Americans in their 20s donated to a church in the past year compared to 61 percent of older adults.  Despite the lower percentages in religious practice, researchers found that internal aspects of faith rank higher among those in their 20s. For instance, 80 percent of twentysomethings said their faith is very important in their life; 75 percent said they had prayed to God in the past week; and 57 percent said they had made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life. "Millions of twentysomethings are crystallizing their views of life without the input of church leaders, the Bible, or other mature Christians," said the vice president of the research-firm.

School Bans Homosexual Propaganda
Agape Press

Homosexual activists get the welcome mat at many schools these days -- but no more in Novato, California.  Elementary students there will no longer be required to attend pro-homosexual presentations without their parents knowing about it.  Children as young as seven in Novato's schools saw Cootie Shots -- a play that was all about accepting homosexuality, says Family News In Focus.  Angered parents filed suit trying to find out what kind of propaganda their kids were taught.  Attorney Brad Dacus with the Pacific Justice Institute says they won before their case made it to court.  "They replaced their superintendent with a pro-family, pro-parent superintendent," he says, "and then ... even more dramatically, [they] amended their policies to require parental opt-in for much of this controversial curriculum." Dacus says he has assurances the group that presented Cootie Shots will not be invited back. Because of the changes, the case has been dropped.