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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 31, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 31, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Kidnapped Samaritan's Purse Worker Released in Sudan
  • Author: More Teens Becoming 'Fake' Christians
  • Church Court Convicts PC(USA) Pastor on Gay Marriage Charges
  • Christian Convert in Bangladesh Falsely Accused of Theft

Kidnapped Samaritan's Purse Worker Released in Sudan

DeMoss News reports that aid worker Flavia Wagner was released yesterday after being held hostage for 105 days in Sudan. The 35-year-old employee of international relief organization Samaritan's Purse is exhausted but in good health and currently in Khartoum. Two Samaritan's Purse employees and a Sudanese driver were abducted on May 18 in Sudan after armed men stopped their convoy. The two Sudanese men were released unharmed and without explanation on May 25 in Thur, Darfur. During her captivity, Wagner was allowed to contact her family and Samaritan's Purse staff numerous times. During the process, Samaritan's Purse worked with U.S. and Sudanese government officials to secure her release.

Author: More Teens Becoming 'Fake' Christians

After dedicating months to talking with teens about their faith, author Kenda Creasy Dean has come to a sad conclusion: many teens are "almost Christian." Dean, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, says many American teens are hearing a "moralistic therapeutic deism" at church. "If this is the God they're seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust," she said, according to CNN. "Churches don't give them enough to be passionate about." Dean assisted in research for the National Study of Youth and Religion, which found that most teens who describe themselves as "Christians" didn't care about and couldn't articulate their faith. "They can talk about money, sex and their family relationships with nuance," Dean said. "Most people who work with teenagers know that they are not naturally inarticulate."

Church Court Convicts PC(USA) Pastor on Gay Marriage Charges

Religion News Service reports that a Presbyterian court on Aug. 27 found a retired California pastor guilty of violating church rules and her ordination vows by performing same-sex marriages while it was briefly legal in the state in 2008. The Rev. Jane Spahr, 68, never denied presiding at as many as 16 ceremonies, even though her denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), prohibits ministers from stating, implying or representing same-sex unions as marriages. The Napa, Calif.-based Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of the Redwoods found Spahr guilty by a 4-2 vote, concluding she persisted in a "pattern or practice of disobedience." Sphar's penalty is a formal rebuke, pending her possible appeal. The court unanimously found Spahr not guilty on the charge of disturbing the "peace, unity and purity of the church."

Christian Convert in Bangladesh Falsely Accused of Theft

A Christian convert from Islam was falsely arrested for cattle theft last weekend as Muslims attempted to stop his Christian activities, area villagers said. Day laborer Abul Hossen, 41, was arrested on Aug. 21 for alleged cattle theft about 180 miles northwest of the capital, Dhaka. Christian villagers told Compass Direct News that Hossen was the victim of "dirty tricks" by influential Muslims. "There is another Abul Hossen in the village who might be the thief, but his father-in-law is very powerful," said Gonesh Roy. "To save his son-in-law, he imputed all the blame to a different Abul Hossen who is a completely good man." Hossen, who converted to Christianity from Islam in 2007, is very active in the community, and Muslims are harassing him with the charge so his ministry will be discredited and villagers will denounce his faith, Roy said. Some 150 villagers, about 20 percent of them Christian, went to the police station to plea for his freedom.