Religion Today Summaries, April 5, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, April 5, 2004

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

  • Eight Pastors Killed in Central Nigeria
  • ECUSA Bishops Widening Rift, Anglican Theologian Says 
  • Christian Movies Earn the Most Money 
  • Nationwide Telephonic Prayer Meeting Addresses Moral Slide

Eight Pastors Killed in Central Nigeria
Obed Minchakpu, Compass Direct

Religious violence that erupted in the Nigerian state of Plateau a few weeks ago has resulted in the deaths of eight pastors and 1,500 Christian believers, and the destruction of 173 churches. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) released the names of the martyred pastors who served Baptist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Assemblies of God and the Evangelical Reformed congregations, as well as the Church of Christ in Nigeria and the Evangelical Church of West Africa. Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency reported that religious violence in Plateau and Nasarawa states has resulted in the displacement of 25,000 people. Bauchi state official Alhaji Musa Lima told Compass, “About 50,000 displaced persons who managed to escape the hostility have temporarily relocated to some parts of this state,” placing enormous pressure on local resources. On March 28, Muslim-Christian violence broke out in the state of Nasarawa, reportedly claiming the lives of 15 Christians.

ECUSA Bishops Widening Rift, Anglican Theologian Says
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A conservative Anglican theologian says the Episcopal Church USA's House of Bishops could have helped heal the rift in the denomination, but instead has chosen to make things considerably worse. The Episcopal leaders recently approved an oversight plan designed to minister to conservative congregations that reject the leadership of their bishops for supporting the consecration of openly homosexual bishop Vicki Gene Robinson. However, critics of the plan such as Dr. Kendall Harmon of the American Anglican Council believe the bishops have missed an opportunity to unite the denomination. Harmon considers the oversight plan a radically bishop-centered strategy. "The whole preoccupation of the document is with the rights and authority of the bishops and not the concerns and the needs of the people in the parishes, who completely disagree with the decision and believe it has betrayed the gospel," he says. Harmon says the House of Bishops appear not only to have an elitist mindset that does not value the authority of scripture, but they also show no regard for other church leaders and their constituencies. "This is a group of leaders who have shown disregard for the people being hurt and have not enabled their voices to be part of the process. It's amazing to me that you could set up a plan like this without talking to the leadership in a number of parishes where people are really struggling," he says.

Christian Movies Earn the Most Money
Ted Baehr, ASSIST News Service

The spectacular financial success of Mel Gibson’s Christian movie, The Passion of the Christ, has stunned many media pundits, but this surprising event has not been a surprise to Dr. Ted Baehr and his staff at the Christian Film & Television Commission, a religious advocacy group in Hollywood. “We’ve been tracking the box office success of Christian movies for many years,” said Chairman Baehr, founder of the Commission. “Year in and year out, the statistics show that movies with strong Christian viewpoints make the most money.” The Commission’s annual study of the major movies released theatrically in the United States shows that movies with very strong Christian worldviews do much better at the box office than movies with Non-Christian worldviews. For example, movies with a very strong Christian worldview released in 2003, 2002, and 2001, such as Finding Nemo, The Gospel of John, the Lord of the Rings movies, Luther, We Were Soldiers, and Evelyn, earned two to five times as much money on average in the United States and Canada as movies with very strong Non-Christian worldviews.

Nationwide Telephonic Prayer Meeting Addresses Moral Slide
Agape Press

A California pastor is encouraging Christians to go to their phones once a week for a nationwide prayer meeting. This hour-long "prayer conference call" takes place every Wednesday and is open to concerned Christians across the United States. The telephonic prayer meeting starts at 12:00 noon, Central time, and is moderated by Pastor Wiley Drake in California and Chaplain Mark Benz in Washington, DC. He says the phone prayer meeting will focus on reversing the nation's moral slide. "We're going to be dealing with subjects like same-sex marriage, which is destroying our families. We're going to be dealing with subjects like 'under God' [attacks on the Pledge of Allegiance] because we want to stay under God. We'll be dealing with subjects like standing up for the Ten Commandments, because we know that is the basis of our country. We have sent a letter to all the congressmen, and we are encouraging them to come on the line and give us a greeting and a prayer," Drake says. The California pastor insists that it is time for American Christians to pray earnestly for true revival in the nation. The number for the weekly phone prayer meetings is 603-488-0702, access code 619110.