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Religion Today Summaries - April 14, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 14, 2006

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

  • Barna: Increase in 'Religious Behaviors' May Portend Genuine Change
  • Bail Denied for Pakistani Woman Accused of Blasphemy
  • Female Students Disappear after Muslim Assault in Nigeria
  • Christian Outreach Brings 'Book of Hope' to Rwanda's Schools, Prisons

Barna: Increase in 'Religious Behaviors' May Portend Genuine Change

While Christian pollster George Barna doesn't yet have hard data to confirm it, he says there is reason to hope that Americans are taking God "more seriously" than they were a decade ago. More than 20 years of studying cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors have given Barna ample opportunities to observe and quantify the spiritual development and religious activity of those who make up the Church in America. The Barna Group is now reporting that it is detecting "significant" increases in religious activity related to five of seven "core religious behaviors" that the company studies on a regular basis. Barna observes that it is unusual for there to be increases in more than one or two of those behaviors at the same time. Barna recently released his report "The State of the Church: 2006," which is available on his group's website.

RSS ‘Reconverts’ Over 300 Christians in Orissa, India

Hindu leaders attending a centenary celebration of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) last weekend converted at least 344 tribal Christians to Hinduism. Compass Direct reports that although police were present, they took no action to enforce Orissa state anti-conversion laws that require official permission for such events. The so-called “reconversions” took place on Sunday, April 9, as key Hindu dignitaries encouraged the Christians to blow conch shells and recite Hindu scriptures in a symbolic “return” to Hinduism – though most tribal people are traditionally animist, not Hindu. The RSS had set a target of reconverting over 10,000 people. Observers said intense media scrutiny lowered conversion numbers.

Million Leaders Mandate: To Another Million and Beyond

EQUIP calls it the "Million Leaders Mandate,” and the number of leaders in training across the globe is at 1,067,316 – a figure that will continue to increase “until Jesus returns,” according to the leadership development ministry. The Christian Post reports that it's been four years since the launch of EQUIP’s worldwide leadership training. Already past its one million leaders mark way ahead of schedule, the organization is planning on another million by the end of 2007. "Leadership is a process. And a part of the process is multiplication," EQUIP's vice president of strategic partnerships, Tom Atema said. With two million leaders and 107 countries to be trained and reached by the end of next year, the leaders mandate "will go on until Jesus returns," said Atema.

Christian Outreach Brings 'Book of Hope' to Rwanda's Schools, Prisons

More than 500 Christian volunteers from various countries are distributing God's Word and taking part in numerous relief activities as one African nation marks a solemn anniversary. The effort is being spearheaded by the Book of Hope ministry and is called "100 Days of Hope." The outreach coincides with Rwanda's 100 days of genocide that took place in that country from April 7 through July 15, 1994. During that period 12 years ago, an estimated 937,000 Rwandans were slaughtered in a campaign of ethnic violence carried out largely by members of extremist militia groups. During the 100 Days of Hope, international Christian ministries, and Christian volunteers from the U.S. and Australia are partnering with local churches in Rwanda in an effort to bring encouragement and healing to the scarred African nation. Scripture books will be handed out to two million children throughout the 12 provinces of Rwanda, and many service-oriented projects will take place as well. The international campaign in Rwanda kicked off Friday April 7 and runs through July 15. Participating Christian ministry leaders and volunteers will work along with their local partners on construction of schools, homes, and orphanages; distribution of humanitarian aid and medical assistance; women’s ministries, child and youth-oriented evangelism; a church leadership conference, a businessmen's outreach, and other evangelistic outreach efforts. If their goal is reached, Book of Hope will have distributed more than 2,050,000 scripture books across the country.