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Religion Today Summaries, August 10, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, August 10, 2004

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

  • Ousted Alabama Judge Asks High Court For New Hearing
  • Deranged Turk Attacks Diyarbakir Church
  • Church Health Survey Translated into Spanish
  • Massive Evangelistic Effort Targets Olympics in Greece This Month

Ousted Alabama Judge Asks High Court For New Hearing
Allie Martin, Agape Press

The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is not giving up in his fight for the right to acknowledge God publicly. Last week Roy Moore, who was removed from office for his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument from public display, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case. The former chief justice says America's founding documents are clear about acknowledging the Almighty.  The Declaration of Independence is a case in point. "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights," Moore quotes, going on to enumerate those most basic rights and assert, as the founding fathers did, that it is the government's job to secure them. The ousted Alabama judge contended that morality is not possible without the recognition of God, and America's laws cannot reasonably be separated from their Judeo-Christian foundation. Moore continues to be an outspoken and much sought-after commentator on such topics as America's Christian heritage, religious freedom, and the right and responsibility of American citizens to acknowledge God in the public square.

Deranged Turk Attacks Diyarbakir Church
Barbara Baker, Compass Direct

An apparently deranged young Turk barricaded himself inside the Diyarbakir Evangelical Church in southeast Turkey on July 19, breaking windows and setting fire to curtains, Bibles and cassette tapes until dense smoke finally forced him to surrender to the police. Medet Arslan, 27, stopped by the Protestant church that afternoon, and some of the church members offered him tea.  As he sat and talked with them, he loudly quoted Quranic verses, saying that he wanted to become a martyr. When he threatened them with a long butcher knife, they locked the man inside the room. He then barricaded the door as police tried to reason with him. Three hours later, Arslan was led away by police authorities who transferred him to a mental hospital in Elazig shortly after the attack. The church sustained some $1,500 in damages from the attack, requiring them to replace the destroyed furnishings and books, repaint the room and install new windows. Meanwhile, Diyarbakir's first Protestant church in the history of the Turkish Republic continues to await a formal decision from Turkish authorities regarding its legal zoning status in the city.

Church Health Survey Translated into Spanish
Jenni Parker, Agape Press

Spanish-speaking churches across the U.S. have a new tool for assessment of church health and growth. The Church Health Survey, a 160-question diagnostic instrument based on the six functions of a church as defined in Acts 2:42-47 (worship, fellowship, discipleship, evangelism, ministry, and prayer), has been translated into Spanish. The survey was developed by Thom S. Rainer, a dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as a resource to help churches do more comprehensive analysis. So far, more than 1,170 churches have used the survey, and Bob Browning, operations director for Church Central, predicts that usage will increase steadily with the addition of the Spanish version. He says the survey responds to "a longstanding demand for Hispanic churches that want or need a tool to see how well they're doing according to the purposes of the church." Two Spanish surveys are being field tested in field tested in Maryland and California, and Browning says the demand is also high among Spanish-speaking congregations in Florida and Texas. More information about the Church Health Survey is available from ChurchCentral.com.

Massive Evangelistic Effort Targets Olympics in Greece This Month
Charisma News Service

American missionary Matt Nocas has returned to his forefathers' homeland to spearhead a massive evangelistic effort during the Summer Olympics in Greece, which starts later this week. In July 2003, he moved his family to Athens to prepare to direct the evangelistic outreaches of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) during the 2004 Olympics, Aug.13-29. By the time the Summer Games open this Friday at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, hundreds of YWAM volunteers and thousands of Christians from around the world will have arrived to share their faith with participants, international visitors and Greeks alike by making a friend. "If you make a friend, you will be invited to his or her family," Nocas said. "Once you are in a family, you are at the heart of Greek life," he added. Outreach teams visiting for one or two weeks during the Olympics, or longer, will not have time to start Greek house churches, but Weidenaar noted that team members can make friends, possibly visit families, establish friendships by e-mail and help connect Greek seekers to Greek believers. YWAM, which is expecting some 750 young people from more than 20 countries to assist its effort, does not have a set agenda for the outreaches during the Olympics, campaign coordinator Holly Poteet said. Hellenic Ministries, a major Greek missions organization, takes a stricter approach than YWAM. Its international teams all will follow the same program: three days of prayer and fasting, three days of literature distribution, three days of street evangelism. Altogether, Hellenic Ministries claims its operation is the biggest-ever outreach to Greece.