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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 7, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 7, 2008

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

  • Criswell College Feud Goes Public
  • Iranian Christian Couple Dies from Police Attack
  • Report: Religion Rivaled Race, Gender Coverage During Primaries
  • Bush: China Must End Detentions, Ensure Freedoms

Criswell College Feud Goes Public

Baptist Press reports that a Texas pastor and trustee of Criswell College has publicly accused leaders of First Baptist Church in Dallas of plotting to sell the school's assets to finance a new building program for the church. First Baptist's pastor, Robert Jeffress, flatly denies the accusation. In a letter dated July 30, Steve Washburn, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pflugerville, just outside of Austin, Texas, and a trustee told "friends of Criswell College" that leaders of the Dallas church and college trustees have been at odds over a plan to give the college to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth and liquidate Criswell's assets, including its radio station, KCBI-FM. The school's trustees voted in April 2008 not to become part of the seminary's undergraduate program. Washburn's charge was echoed by college president Jerry Johnson, who released a statement Aug. 1 that said, in part: "For six months, the chancellor has been trying to cannibalize Criswell College to fund his building program at the church, which will cost $170 to $240 million." Jeffress called the accusation the product of an "overactive imagination."

Iranian Christian Couple Dies from Police Attack

An Iranian Christian couple in their 60s died last week from injuries sustained when secret police raided a house church service hosted at their house and severely beat them, a source told Compass Direct News. Less than a week after Abbas Amiri’s funeral, his wife died from similar injuries and stress from her husband’s death, according to Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN). Police beat and arrested Amiri on July 17, along with seven other men, six women and two minors who were attending the service. He died in a hospital on July 30 from injuries sustained from the beating. His wife, Sakineh Rahnama, died on Sunday (Aug. 3) from stress-related causes, according to FCNN. Secret police raided the house church meeting hosted by Amiri and his wife in Malek Shahr, just outside the central Iranian city of Isfahan. They beat and arrested all those in attendance, including the two minors and the hosting couple. All those arrested at the house meeting are reportedly still in custody, including Amiri’s daughter and the two minors.

Report: Religion Rivaled Race, Gender Coverage During Primaries

Religion News Service reports that religion rivaled race and gender combined during media coverage of this year's primary campaign season, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. Excluding "horse-race" coverage of campaign tactics and strategy, religion accounted for 10 percent of nonpolitical-process coverage, barely trailing race and gender at a combined 11 percent, the report concludes. The spring campaigns featured extraordinary coverage of Sen. Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, Sen. John McCain's struggle to win over evangelical voters and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.

Bush: China Must End Detentions, Ensure Freedoms

The Christian Post reports that on the same day of his arrival in Beijing for the Olympics, President Bush is carrying a message of "deep concerns" about the state of human rights in China. "America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists," Bush will declare in the marquee speech of his three-nation Asia trip. "We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights — not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential." The President was to deliver his address Thursday morning.