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Religion Today Summaries - April 7, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 7, 2006

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

  • Rutherford Institute Urges Navy to Revise Chaplain Prayer
  • Catholics Lose Contract for Leprosy Hospital in India
  • Court Hearing Set for Ailing Chinese Pastor Zhang Rongliang
  • Poll: Most Don't Believe in Body's Resurrection

Rutherford Institute Urges Navy to Revise Chaplain Prayer Policy

AgapePress reports that the head of a conservative civil liberties organization is urging the U.S. Navy to amend its new guidelines governing how chaplains can pray in non-worship settings. John Whitehead, president of the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute, has sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy expressing disagreement with the branch's recently released prayer policy. According to the Institute's leader, the new guidelines prohibit Navy chaplains from being able to pray in the name of Jesus in most situations, not just in formal worship settings. In the letter, Whitehead points out the potential of the new policy to chill religious expression, affecting such expression on ships, in battle zones, and on military bases and installations. Furthermore, it voiced the concern that the policy could potentially undermine U.S. Supreme Court precedent, certain acts of Congress, and even the express will of America's founding fathers by substantially interfering with the free exercise rights of chaplains and other religious members of the armed services.

Catholics Lose Contract for Leprosy Hospital in India

The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party government of Gujarat state has declined to renew its contract with the Catholic administrators of a leprosy hospital in Ahmedabad, on the grounds that the nuns were “preaching Christianity.” According to Compass Direct, on Saturday April 1, officials asked the six sisters of the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate to vacate their residential quarters in the Ave Maria Convent, located on the hospital grounds. The state health commissioner told one of the nuns he could do nothing about the contract revocation because it was a political order.

Court Hearing Set for Ailing Chinese Pastor Zhang Rongliang

A Compass Direct release states a major Chinese house church leader was scheduled for a potentially decisive court hearing April 6 after more than 16 months in police custody. Zhang Rongliang was arrested by Henan police without charges on December 1, 2004. Only months later was he charged with “attaining a passport through cheating” and with “illegal border crossing.” Chinese authorities often deny passports to well-known house church leaders. Health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure have grown worse while in custody. Previously Zhang had been detained five times and spent a total of 12 years in prison for his religious activities. “This will be his third hearing,” said a co-worker who asked to remain anonymous. “This time I hope the court can make an independent decision based on truth and justice.”

Poll: Most Don't Believe in Body's Resurrection

Scripps Howard News Service reports that most Americans don't believe they will experience a resurrection of their bodies when they die, putting them at odds with a core teaching of Christianity. 36 percent of the 1,007 adults interviewed by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University said "yes" to the question: "Do you believe that, after you die, your physical body will be resurrected someday?" Fifty-four percent said they do not believe and 10 percent were undecided. "This reflects the very low state of doctrinal preaching in our churches," said Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "I continually am confronted by Christians, even active members of major churches, who have never heard this taught in their local congregations." The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. The findings surprised many top theologians since it seems to put Americans in conflict with both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed. The Nicene Creed concludes with the famous words: "We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen." Similarly, the Apostles' Creed professes a belief in "the resurrection of the body."