Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 14, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 14, 2009

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

  • More Secure Christians Celebrate Easter in Iraq
  • Cowboy Churches Get Back to Basics with Salvation
  • Rick Warren: 'I ... Never Campaigned" for Prop 8
  • Historic Church Building Demolished in Vietnam

More Secure Christians Celebrate Easter in Iraq

The Christian Post reports that many Christians in Iraq celebrated Easter outside their homes for the first time since 2007. One church in Basra greeted more worshippers than it had seen since 2003, while on Saints Peter and Paul Church in Baghdad celebrated Easter for the first time since violence closed its doors in 2007. Some Christians in areas still subject to insurgent violence celebrated at home, but at least on Sunday, fear appeared to recede. One district in Baghdad has seen the return of almost 800 families in the last six months, though the figure doesn't begin to replace the 15,000 Christians who fled Mosul in October. Still, church representatives are calling Christians to look at their homeland as a mission field, to "participate actively in its rebuilding and development."

Cowboy Churches Get Back to Basics with Salvation

Dallas Morning News reports that churchgoers sporting Stetson hats don't celebrate redemption just on Easter. Increasing numbers of "cowboy churches" are preaching the simple message of salvation every day, appealing to those disenchanted with traditional churches. "What we say is, 'Come as you are,'" said Ron Nolen, executive director of the Texas Fellowship of Cowboy Churches. "We believe that we are to be fishers of men, but we don't have anything to do with cleaning the fish. God does the cleaning." According to the Morning News, cowboy churches are popping up across the Texas and the rest of the country. For fellowship, attendees are more likely to come to a trail ride or roping contest than a potluck.  "What we're really shooting for is to keep the riffraff in," said Gary Morgan, pastor of the Cowboy Church of Ellis County, in Waxahachie. "We tell people to come as they are, and buddy, they do."

Rick Warren: 'I...Never Campaigned" for Prop 8

Baptist Press reports that Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., has come under fire for statements he made on a recent Larry King Live appearance. During the April 6 interview, Warren said, "During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never -- never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going." He acknowledged urging his congregation to support California's Prop 8 "if you believe what the Bible says about marriage," but clarified that he “never campaigned” for the measure. Warren added that he apologized to homosexual acquaintances because his support for Prop. 8 resulted in homosexual activists saying he equated "gay marriage" with pedophilia and incest.

Historic Church Building Demolished in Vietnam

Compass Direct News reports that just hours after the prime minister’s office assured denominational leaders that there were no plans to destroy their Protestant church building, authorities in Banmethuot last month demolished the historic structure in the Central Highlands city. Government work crews arrived at the site just after darkness fell on March 11 and quickly demolished the structure belonging to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (South), or ECVN(S), according to local sources. Authorities had confiscated the church building in 1975 after the Communist victory and had removed its cross. Church authorities many times had asked for the return of the building. Following demolition of the building, the ECVN(S) governing board on March 20 passed a resolution. “The Executive Council of the ECVN(S) is extremely upset and in deep sympathy with the 135,000 believers in Dak Lak province,” the resolution reads. Calling for the church to set aside today for fasting and prayer, the resolution said ECVN representatives will meet with authorities to address the matter.