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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 4, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 4, 2008

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

  • Bush to Attend Church in China, Urge Religious Freedom
  • Baptist Pastor in Azerbaijan Still in Jail
  • Chinese Gov't Plans a Browse through Foreign Journalists' Internet History
  • Warren's 'Long-Term Relationship' with Rwanda

Bush to Attend Church in China, Urge Religious Freedom

According to a report on Breitbart.com citing of the President's top aides, George W. Bush plans to attend church while in China for the opening of the Olympic Games next month, and will speak about freedom of religion. "When he goes to church on Sunday (August 10) he will make a statement afterwards in which he discusses his view on religious freedom in China," said national security council director of Asian Affairs Dennis Wilder. "You can deliver the message of freedom without politicizing the events of the game," Wilder said. "The president will have diplomatic meetings with the Chinese leadership that are separate from the games. And in those meetings with the Chinese leaders he will of course bring up these issues."

Baptist Pastor in Azerbaijan Still in Jail

ASSIST News Service reports that the judge in the criminal trial of Baptist pastor Hamid Shabanov in Azerbaijan has not yet convicted him. Defense lawyer Mirman Aliev told Felix Corley of Forum 18 News Service that he asked for Shabanov to be acquitted, for an end to the criminal case and for him to be freed. “But the judge was afraid to do so, and instead sent the case back for further investigation,” Aliev told Forum 18. Aliev said the judge ordered the re-investigation to be complete by Aug. 23, ready for a new trial. “We expect they will try again to imprison Shabanov - and we will try again to get him freed,” Aliev told Forum 18. “He's not guilty. They are doing this solely because he is a Christian.” The judge rejected the lawyer's application to have Shabanov released pending the retrial.

Chinese Gov't Plans a Browse through Foreign Journalists' Internet History

China is backtracking on its assurances of open access to foreign journalists during the Olympic Games, says a release from the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Hotel documents cited by U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) reveal that all the major hotel chains serving the 2008 Summer Olympics have been ordered to install monitoring software by China's Public Security Bureau, and that Olympic reporters’ access to certain websites is being restricted. One document said, "In order to ensure the smooth opening of Olympic in Beijing and the Expo in Shanghai in 2010, safeguard the security of Internet network and the information thereon in the hotels... it is required that your company install and run the Security Management System." According to the Los Angeles Times, the Public Security Bureau's order to the hotels says that failure to comply could result in financial penalties, suspension of access to the Internet or the loss of a license to operate a hotel in China.

Warren's 'Long-Term Relationship' with Rwanda

Cynthia McFadden recently interviewed Rick Warren on ABC's "Nightline" about the pastor and author's work in the African nation of Rwanda. "I've been coming to Rwanda for three years now," said Warren. "I think this is my 10th extended trip. The Rwanda I read about in the press and the real Rwanda are two different things." 200,000 people have HIV and 800,000 children are orphaned in Rwanda, a nation the world has hesitated to help since the genocide of 900,000 people 14 years ago. Warren believes "the problem with so many humanitarian efforts is that they just come in and leave. They come for a little while. They take a picture. They go home and put it in a brochure and raise funds. We're not into that. We're into long-term relationships." Many of the locals see Warren as someone who cares -- someone who is making a difference.