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Religion Today Summaries - April 21, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 21, 2005

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

  • Christian Leaders Hail New Pope as Defender of Family Values 

  • Jews For Jesus Exec Underscores Priority Of Jewish Evangelism 

  • Top Republican's Part in 'Justice Sunday' Christian Telecast Criticized

  • Indonesia

Christian Leaders Hail New Pope as Defender of Family Values
Jenni Parker, Agape Press

Family values advocates from both the Catholic and Protestant communities are applauding the choice of former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- now known as Pope Benedict XVI -- as the new pontiff or "Holy Father" of the Roman Catholic Church. Many Catholic clergy around the world reacted with excitement to the news of Ratzinger's election. Some of the German cardinals, who were among the Conclave that convened to choose the successor to Pope John Paul II, told reporters that spontaneous applause broke out as soon as members of the College realized Ratzinger had been elected. American Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, told Associated Press the new pope was selected after much prayer and what the cardinals believe was God's guidance. Many pro-life and pro-family Protestants are adding their voices to those in the Catholic community who look forward with hope to the papacy of Benedict XVI. Gary Bauer of American Values says it is no surprise that the Left in the U.S. and around the world are expressing disappointment. He says since Benedict XVI is a theological conservative, it is predictable that the "usual parade of radical feminists, homosexual-rights advocates, and left-wing clerics will be trotted out to bemoan his election."

Jews For Jesus Exec Underscores Priority Of Jewish Evangelism
Cory Miller, Baptist Press

Greeting the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary community with the Jewish word for hello -- "shalom" -- Jews for Jesus' executive director reminded the chapel audience of the priority of Jewish evangelism, noting that the Gospel was sent to the Jews first. David Brickner, who has led the largest outreach ministry to Jewish people in the world since 1996, said God's will for the Jewish people and the world has not changed. "I believe smack dab in the center in God's eternal plan for this world is His ongoing purposes for the Jewish people," Brickner said in his message April 5 at Midwestern's Kansas City, Mo., campus. The Apostle Paul was "very convinced of God's continuing plan" with the Jewish people, Brickner said. Referencing Romans 1:16, he said Paul's life was proof he was not ashamed of the Gospel that he helped take to the Jews. "There is a priority in regard to the Jewish people and the purposes of God -- a past priority, a present priority and a future priority," he said. "When the church rediscovers this truth, it will revolutionize missions in the world today." Brickner noted that Jewish evangelism is a future priority, because Jews will play a key role in the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Top Republican's Part in 'Justice Sunday' Christian Telecast Criticized
Charisma News Service

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has no plans to withdraw from a telecast this weekend organized by a Christian group that portrays Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking some of President Bush's judicial nominees. Top Democrats have complained that Frist, a Tennessee Republican and potential 2008 presidential contender, was improperly injecting religion into a high-stakes political fight with his participation in "Justice Sunday," scheduled for this Sunday, USA Today reported. Some of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders are participating in the "Justice Sunday" teleconference, including James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; and Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The telecast may come just before a Senate showdown over Republican threats to change the rules to ban filibusters of judicial nominees. Democrats have used the procedural hurdles to block 10 of Bush's judicial nominees though helping confirm more than 200 others, USA Today reported. "Justice Sunday" also signals an escalation of the campaign for the rule change by Christian conservatives who see the current court battle as the climax of a 30-year culture war, a chance to reverse decades of legal decisions about abortion, religion in public life, gay rights and marriage, the Times noted. Frist has said Bush's nominees are qualified by the American Bar Association and are not extreme.

Charisma News Service

The family of a Pentecostal pastor kidnapped four months ago on the remote island of Buru still does not know whether he is dead or alive. On Dec. 3, Jokran Ratu was abducted and has not been seen since, Compass Direct reported. No ransom demand has been received and police have not apprehended the kidnappers. "We always ask the police whether they have made progress or found Mr. Jokran's body," said Henry Lolaen, a pastor from nearby Ambon island. Meanwhile, police are preparing for the April 25 anniversary of a Malukan separatist group. Last year, an illegal flag-raising ceremony led to violent clashes between Muslim and Christian communities in Ambon, with at least 20 casualties and scores of buildings burned to the ground, Compass reported. On March 31, a report issued by the United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Indonesia noted that sporadic violence had continued in the Malukus, and that tension between Christians and Muslims in Ambon, the provincial capital, remained high. Violence between Muslims and Christians in the Malukus first erupted in January 1999, partly as the result of a government resettlement policy. The Malukus were previously a majority-Christian region, but huge numbers of Muslim settlers changed the ratio and led to bitter land disputes and thousands of deaths. (www.charismanews.com)