Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 16, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 16, 2007

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

  • Appeals Court Hears Bible Distribution Case
  • Vietnamese Authorities Continue to Arrest, Torture Degar Christians
  • Christ Must be Known as Son of God, Pope says in New Book
  • Dean Accused of 'Redefining' Easter

Appeals Court Hears Bible Distribution Case reports that The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday heard arguments in a case that will decide whether a leading Bible distribution group will be allowed to hand out the religious texts at public schools. The Gideons International passed out Bibles to students in Missouri's South Iron R-1 School District under a policy allowing the open distribution of non-educational material. But the ACLU filed suit, prompting District Judge Catherine Perry to issue a preliminary injunction last September halting the Bible distribution. Liberty Counsel, a Christian litigation group, has appealed the decision, arguing that the injunction is unconstitutional because it singles out one religious text for exclusion.

Vietnamese Authorities Continue to Arrest, Torture Degar Christians

Vietnam's indigenous Degar Peoples (known under the French colonial term “Montagnard”) have suffered decades of persecution by the Vietnamese communist government, namely; confiscation of their ancestral lands, Christian religious repression, torture, killings and imprisonment. Now, according to ASSIST News Service, five men and one woman have been beaten and imprisoned for refusing to join the officially-sanctioned Vietnamese government church. The Montagnard Foundation (MFI), which is dedicated to the preservation of the Indigenous People of the Central Vietnam, says the Vietnamese government is continuing to use its religious reform laws as a means of control. The five men and a mother were taken to a police station where they have been severely abused. Vietnamese house church mother Rahlan H’Per MFI is calling on the US State Department to reconsider placing Vietnam back on the ‘Country of Particular Concern’ (CPC) watch list of nations which are the most egregious violators of religious freedom.

Christ Must be Known as Son of God, Pope says in New Book

Pope Benedict XVI's new book "Jesus of Nazareth" describes a Christ who must be understood as the Son of God on a divine mission, not a mere moralist or social reformer, Catholic News Service reports. Re-emphasizing Christ's divine nature is especially important in a world that tends to ridicule religious faith and that is experiencing a "global poisoning of the spiritual climate," the pope said. The 448-page book goes on sale today - the pope's 80th birthday. It's the first of two volumes the pontiff has planned on the life of Christ. Interestingly, the pope prefaces his book by saying it should not be read as an expression of official church teaching, but as the fruits of his personal research.

Dean Accused of 'Redefining' Easter reports that Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean is taking flak from some evangelical Christians for issuing a press release that described Easter Sunday as a "holiday [that] represents peace, redemption and renewal, a theme which brings hope to people of all faiths." Missing from the statement, of course, is any acknowledgment of why Christians not only in American but worldwide celebrate the holy day - Jesus and his resurrection from the grave. The American Family Association has called on Dean and the DNC to apologize for "taking Easter and making it into a nondescript, universal, nonexclusive religious celebration for all religions." Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council says statement "does betray that, at its heart, the Democratic leadership is in fact secularist by philosophy and worldview."