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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 28, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 28, 2006

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

  • Iraqi Christians Caught in the Crossfire of Continuing Violence
  • 'Counterfeit' Tract Case Headed for Appeal; Attorney Optimistic
  • Two Christians Arrested in Southern Laos
  • Big Idea's VeggieTales to Launch on NBC, Telemundo, and the i Network this September

Iraqi Christians Caught in the Crossfire of Continuing Violence

“The news media often focus on the conflict between Shi’ites and Sunni Muslims in Iraq. But there are other ethnic and religious groups under attack. The small Christian community in Iraq is now finding itself caught in the crossfire of sectarian violence.” So says a story by Brian Padden of VOA posted on their website (www.voanews.com) in which he reports that many Christians are moving north to find safety in the Kurdish-controlled region of the country. ASSIST News Service says that in his report, Padden says, “Christians attend mass at St. Joseph's Church in Irbil, in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq, as they have done for thousands of years. But today the number of Christians living here is growing, as more seek refugee from the sectarian violence devastating much of the country. Father Tariq Choucha says what is happening now is not the persecution of Christians -- but indiscriminate killing by terrorists... For the Christians who have come here, there is a sense of safety in numbers.”

'Counterfeit' Tract Case Headed for Appeal; Attorney Optimistic

AgapePress reports attorneys for a Texas-based ministry accused of distributing a gospel tract that violates currency restrictions have filed an appeal with a federal court. In June, Secret Service agents visited the Denton, Texas, offices of The Great News Network (GNN) and confiscated thousands of "million-dollar bill" gospel tracts. The Secret Service claimed the tracts violate currency restrictions, and a district judge agreed. Now the case is headed to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Brian Fahling is senior trial attorney with the Center for Law & Policy, which represents GNN in the case. Fahling says the appeal argues that the tract cannot be considered a counterfeit piece of money. "The case law is clear. The statutes are clear that million-dollar tracts in no wise look like or appear to be actual currency authorized by Congress," Fahlin claims. "They are fictitious bills." Living Waters has since developed a billion-dollar-bill tract featuring a photo of well-known preacher Charles Spurgeon.

Two Christians Arrested in Southern Laos

According to ASSIST News Service, two Protestant Christians have been arrested in southern Laos to stop them from pursuing their evangelization work, says a report from the Lao Human Rights Movement (LHRM), which is critical of Vientiane’s Communist regime. In a story published by AsiaNews (www.asianews.it), the two men -- A-Kouam, 60, and A-Vieng, 35 -- were taken into custody on August 11 and are being held in Depone in the southern province of Savannakhet. The AsiaNews story says, “According to reliable sources cited by the LHRM, ‘the arrest and imprisonment of the two Christian men is meant to stop the spreading of the Christian religion, especially among religious minorities’. “The Paris-based LHRM lamented the fact that in Laos ‘freedom of religion is still very limited and religious minorities are victims of intimidation, threats, arrests and violence, both physical and moral.’” In the last few years dozens of Protestants have been arrested in Laos.

Big Idea's VeggieTales to Launch on NBC, Telemundo, and the i Network this September

Big Idea’s VeggieTales, the most recognized kids faith and values-based property in the U.S., will launch this fall in a regular time slot on NBC, Telemundo and the i network as part of the new qubo programming block.  Along with VeggieTales, the programming block will also include Big Idea’s 3-2-1 Penguins! and its 2D LarryBoy Adventures. The launch marks the national television debut for the Big Idea properties, which have sold over 52 million videos since the company began in 1993. In addition to the English language broadcast on NBC and the i network (formerly PAX), VeggieTales, 3-2-1 Penguins! and the LarryBoy Adventures will also debut in Spanish this September on Telemundo. VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer is producing the 30-minute VeggieTales TV episodes, which have been tailored to meet NBC’s programming guidelines as well as national educational and informational (E/I) standards for children’s programming. “I am very excited for the opportunity to bring Bob, Larry and their veggie friends to national TV,” states Vischer. “VeggieTales helps kids learn life-changing lessons in a delightfully wacky way. The positive messages of the stories can now reach a wider audience and, in doing so, affect a new generation of children.”