Religion Today Summaries - October 18, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 18, 2004

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

  • Pastors Nationwide Urged to Lead Charge Against Homosexual 'Marriage'

  • Kenya: Drought Ravages Land, Native Missionaries Work to Bring Aid 

  • Supreme Court To Hear Case On RLUIPA Religious Rights Law 

  • The "Holy" Month for Muslims: Ramadan

Pastors Nationwide Urged to Lead Charge Against Homosexual 'Marriage'
Allie Martin, AgapePress

A national effort is under way to encourage pastors to dedicate the month of October to saving traditional marriage and to help educate the public about the dangers of same-sex "marriage." The effort, spearheaded by Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson and the Wilberforce Forum, is titled "Redefining Marriage: A Crisis for Children."  The initiative's goal is to alert the American public to the threat homosexual marriage poses to the stability of American families and children. According to Mike Snyder of the Wilberforce Forum, it is easy in today's culture to dismiss the entire issue of same-sex marriage. Because of the cultural bent toward sexual issues, Snyder says it is vital that Christians promote God's plan for marriage -- and that they make it their top cultural priority to stop the spread of same-sex unions. "God has a simple plan," he says.  "The plan is that sex belongs in marriage. It is for procreation and for building intimacy in that bond between a man and a woman where they can be completed.  Everything else is sexual disorientation." The website for the "National Preaching Initiative" ( http://www.pfm.org/AM/fma_splash.html) offers free sermons, research material, and articles to help pastors and church leaders increase their knowledge of the issue. According to the Hoover Institution, widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage will widen the already existing gap between parenthood and marriage and continue to break down the family.

Kenya: Drought Ravages Land, Native Missionaries Work to Bring Aid
Christian Aid

After a poor rainy season, much of Kenya is now experiencing a severe drought. Over two million people are facing starvation in the country as maize crops and water sources dry up. Indigenous ministries, though suffering from effects of the drought themselves, are working to bring aid to hungry people in the name of Christ. However, they face increasing difficulty as food prices soar and famine spreads. According to a ministry leader supported by Christian Aid, Kenya normally receives rains from March through August. This year, those rains have been erratic at best. Twenty-six of Kenya's 74 districts are now drought-ridden. The most acute sufferers are women and children. In the hardest-hit areas, an estimated 35% are severely malnourished. Over-burdened and under-resourced public health services provide little relief. Along with malnutrition, drought brings increased risk of disease as rural people crowd around remaining water sources-many of which are contaminated-in unsanitary encampments. Prostitution is on the rise as desperately hungry women try to provide for themselves and their families, causing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Native missionaries in Kenya want to provide food and water for these suffering people, yet many are barely surviving themselves. Please pray with them that God would enable them to reach many in the name of Christ.

Supreme Court To Hear Case On RLUIPA Religious Rights Law
Baptist Press

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the legality of a four-year-old federal law that protects the religious rights of prisoners. The high court announced Oct. 12 it would review a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) violates the First Amendment's ban on government establishment of religion. The justices will determine whether the section on prisoners' rights is constitutional. Oral arguments in the case, which is Cutter v. Wilkinson, will not occur before January. In accepting the case out of the Sixth Circuit, the Supreme Court agreed to review the only one of four appellate decisions to go against RLUIPA. The Fourth, Seventh and Ninth circuits have upheld the prisoner provision in the law. The case involves some Ohio prisoners who hold unconventional religious beliefs. They assert that state corrections rules denying them access to religious literature and the opportunity to conduct religious services violate RLUIPA and the Ohio Constitution. John Cutter is an avowed Satanist, while other plaintiffs include an ordained minister of a white supremacist group and a follower of Asatru, a polytheistic religion that originated with the Vikings. Congress passed RLUIPA after the more expansive Religious Freedom Restoration Act was invalidated by the Supreme Court.

The "Holy" Month for Muslims: Ramadan
Christian Aid

Last Friday began the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, a time of fasting, devotion and prayer to Allah. Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset for at least 28 days. After sunset, they feast all night until morning prayers. Native missionaries see Ramadan as a time when many Muslims are most vulnerable and open to the gospel, with their special concentration on God, the Quran and personal purification. Please pray today for native gospel workers in Islamic areas as they work to spread the message of Christ's love during this intense time.

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