Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 25, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 25, 2008

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

  • Most Americans Think Churches Should Avoid Politics
  • Turkey: Malatya Murders Linked to Political Conspiracy
  • China Returns Confiscated Bibles to Departing U.S. Christians
  • Young Evangelical Backs Out of Convention Prayer

Most Americans Think Churches Should Avoid Politics

Religion News Service reports that a slim majority of Americans, including rising numbers of conservatives, say churches should stay out of politics, according to a survey released Thursday (Aug. 21) by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Fifty-two percent of Americans say they think houses of worship should not express their opinions about political and social matters, while 45 percent say they approve of such expression. The center said this marks the first time since it started asking the question in 1996 that respondents who want churches to stay out of politics outnumber those with the opposite view. Conservatives, especially, have reconsidered the issue, with 50 percent saying congregations should stay out of politics. Only 30 voiced that opinion in 2004. The study was based on telephone interviews from July 31-Aug. 10 with a national sample of 2,905 adults.

Turkey: Malatya Murders Linked to Political Conspiracy

Compass Direct News reports that the five young Turkish men accused of torturing and killing three Christians in Malatya last year may have been incited by members of a vast political conspiracy allegedly responsible for multiple murders in recent years. The 10th hearing on the murder of three Christians at a publishing house in southeast Turkey 16 months ago took place Aug. 21 at the Malatya Third Criminal Court. Plaintiff attorneys requested the case be integrated with an investigation into Ergenekon, an ultranationalist cabal of retired generals, politicians, journalists and mafia members under investigation for conspiracy in various murders. In January police uncovered and started arresting members of Ergenekon. A criminal investigation has linked them to high-profile attacks, murders and plans to engineer domestic chaos and ultimately overthrow the government.

China Returns Confiscated Bibles to Departing U.S. Christians

The Associated Press reports Chinese officials returned 315 Chinese-language Bibles to a group of American Christians only as the group prepared to leave the country Wednesday. Members of Vision Beyond Borders initially staged a sit-in at the airport, but after 26 hours when they realized their Bibles would not be returned. The group was informed on Monday by the U.S. Embassy that Chinese law forbids bringing religious materials into the country for distribution. Group representative Pat Klein told the Associated Press by phone that officials were civil, but clearly wanted the group to leave, as they were escorted to immigration after the Bibles were returned. The Sheridan, Wyoming-based group distributes Bibles and Christian teaching materials around the world.

Young Evangelical Backs Out of Convention Prayer

The Christian Post reports that Cameron Strang, the 32-year-old editor of Relevant Magazine, has rethought giving a prayer at this week's Democratic National Convention. Strang cited concerns that even delivering a prayer could be seen as a party endorsement, though that was not his intention. "Through Relevant, I reach a demographic that has strong faith, morals and passion, but disagreements politically," Strang wrote on his blog. "It wouldn't be wise for me to be seen as picking a political side when I've consistently said both sides are right in some areas and wrong in some areas." Strange said he will participate instead in a convention caucus meeting on religion later in the week. Thanks partially to Obama's aggressive recruitment of young religious voters, this year's DNC has a special focus on faith events and discussions.