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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 17, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 17, 2007

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

  • Taliban, Korean Officials Resume Face-to-Face Talks for Hostages
  • Spiritual Issues not Important in Raising Children, Poll Finds
  • ACLJ Probes Forced Conversions to Islam
  • Gaza Christians Living Under Growing Islamic Threat

Taliban, Korean Officials Resume Face-to-Face Talks for Hostages

The Christian Post reports that South Korean officials resumed face-to-face talks with the Taliban Thursday. The officials arrived Thursday morning at the office of the Afghan Red Crescent Society for the 10:00 meeting and were joined by a Taliban delegation later in the day. "The parties are discussing; the meeting has started" regarding the situation surrounding the 19 remaining Korean hostages, the deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation, Franz Rauchenstein, told Agence France-Presse. The second round of negotiations comes three days after the Taliban released two hostages as a “goodwill gesture” towards the Korean people and officials.

Spiritual Issues not Important in Raising Children, Poll Finds

Although surveys have indicated parents are frustrated with the corrupt culture in which they are trying to raise moral children, researcher George Barna said he is surprised that the percentage of parents who are concerned about their children's spiritual development is not larger, Baptist Press reports. A recent poll by The Barna Group found four out of 10 Christian parents of children between the ages of 3 and 18 said they do not face any spiritual challenges in their life. "Our studies show that the faith principles and practices that a child absorbs by age 13 boldly shapes their spirituality for the duration of their life," Barna said in a news release Aug. 6. "Parents have a greater impact on that process than anyone else." Barna expected the study of exclusively Christian parents with young children to yield a broader emphasis on the challenges related to raising spiritually healthy offspring.

ACLJ Probes Forced Conversions to Islam

According to OneNewsNow.com, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is investigating reported incidents in the Middle East involving Christians being forced to convert to Islam or face death. The ACLJ has deployed some of its government affairs staff to Israel to look into a report out of the Gaza Strip that Hamas-linked militants forced a female Christian professor at gunpoint to convert to Islam. ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow says forced conversion is "becoming unfortunately a more common practice," apparently Hamas is forcing Christians in the Gaza Strip -- "literally at gunpoint," he says -- to convert to Islam. "It's not just the Gaza, though," he exclaims. "We've also learned now and been contacted actually by lawyers in Egypt and in Pakistan, on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. So this seems to be a fairly significant regional issue right now."

Gaza Christians Living Under Growing Islamic Threat

The few reports emerging from Gaza regarding the area's tiny Christian minority indicate that Palestinian followers of Jesus are under increasing pressure to either become Muslims, submit to Islamic law or leave the Gaza Strip, CNSNews.com reports. Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group that won last year's Palestinian parliamentary elections, completed a military takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, handily defeating its rivals in Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. Following the conquest, spokesmen and various local officials affiliated with Hamas announced that an era of strict Islamic rule had begun in Gaza. According to a report in Middle East Newsline last week, Hamas and its followers are moving fast against non-believers in the area. Fatah officials who spoke to the news service on condition of anonymity said Hamas is pressing leaders of the 2,000-strong Christian community to either convert to Islam or emigrate.