Religion Today Summaries - August 17, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 17, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • UNC-Wilmington Compiles List of 'Gay Friendly' Churches
  • Christians Respond with Prayer to Chile's Educational Protests
  • Islamic Republic Shows Concern about Imports of the Bible
  • Brazil's Vanished Tribe Highlights Gospel Urgency


UNC-Wilmington Compiles List of 'Gay Friendly' Churches

FOX reports that a state university in North Carolina has put out a list of approved "gay friendly" churches for faculty and students. The list has raised several concerns, including one professor suggesting that it inadvertently involves taxpayers in "telling people where to go to church." The University of North Carolina's Wilmington campus began circulating the list last month as part of a broader guide to gay-friendly businesses and other services in the area. Mike Adams, a criminology professor on campus who went from atheist to Christianity, said the university should not be in the business of recommending churches. "It's just amazing. It appears to me to be the height of not just silliness, but government waste." This list named five Wilmington-area churches as "gay-friendly religious organizations," including a Presbyterian church, a Lutheran church and a Unitarian Universalist congregation.


Christians Respond with Prayer to Chile's Educational Protests

According to Mission Network News, the violent student-led strikes in Chile over the state of the educational system may have lulled, but they are far from over. 20 high school students are currently on a hunger strike, while thousands of high school and university students have been demanding radical changes to the system for several months. Several peaceful protests have turned violent, with estimiated damages to public and private property reaching $2 million. The argument is over the perception that the Chilean education system favors wealthy students while herding poorer students into under-funded state schools. Many Christian students are not responding with violence, but with prayer. About 30 students gathered in the Plaza de Armas in Santiago for the last several Fridays to praise God and pray for peace. The International Mission Board's Wilson Hunter reports, "These Christian students are singing praises to God and bowing their heads in prayer. They're praying for wisdom and direction for everyone involved, but they're also praying for spiritual change. They're praying for their universities and for government leaders. They're praying for the violent protests to end. But most of all, they're praying for their peers to come to Christ."


Islamic Republic Shows Concern about Imports of the Bible

Iranian authorities have seized six thousand five hundred copies of the Bible in northwest of Iran, ASSIST News Service reports. According to the Mohabat News, Dr. Majid Abhari, advisor to the social issues committee of the parliament in Iran, said "these missionaries with reliance on huge money and propaganda are trying to deviate our youth." Mohabat News says that, in an interview with a government news agency, Abhari added: "With regard to the activities of these Christian missionaries to deceive people, especially youngsters, they have begun a huge campaign by spending huge sums and false propaganda for deviating the public." Abhari did not present any more details about the seizure of 6,500 gospels but he did say: "These books were made with the best paper in the world in pocket size," adding: “The important point in this issue that should be considered by intelligence, judicial and religious agencies is that all religions are strengthening their power to confront Islam, otherwise what does this huge number of Bibles mean?” Mohabat News stated that in November of 2010, police officers and revolutionary guards seized 300 bibles from a bus after its inspection and “in a shameful action, burned them all in the village of Darishk.” According to Mohabat News, “Insulting the Christian Bible is a continuation of an organized campaign by agencies that view anti-Christian propaganda on the top of their agenda.”


Brazil's Vanished Tribe Highlights Gospel Urgency

A remote indigenous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon apparently has been destroyed following a possible assault by drug traffickers -- a development that emphasizes the urgency of taking the Gospel to those who have never heard, Baptist Press reports. First revealed to the world in February through stunning aerial images, the tribe -- whose name is unknown -- was protected by a government guard post. Survival International, a nonprofit organization focused on protecting the rights of tribal peoples, reported Aug. 8, however, that the post had been "overrun by heavily armed men" suspected to be drug traffickers. Concern about the tribe's well-being grew when a search by the Brazilian government's Indian affairs department (FUNAI) revealed no trace of the tribe but discovered a broken arrow in a rucksack allegedly belonging to one of the traffickers. A FUNAI official said such arrows are "the identity card of uncontacted Indians" and described the incident as a catastrophe. The news emphasizes the urgency of the Great Commission and should spur Southern Baptists' missions efforts, said Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board. "This event is another very chilling reminder of the urgent nature of our mission endeavors," Elliff said. "We must reach out with the Gospel now, especially to the world's unengaged, unreached people groups. Our Lord's sobering reminder that 'night comes, when no man can work' is a call for faithfulness at a time when 'the fields are white unto harvest.'" Though the IMB had no work among this tribe (Brazilian law prohibits it), Southern Baptist missionaries are legally sharing the Gospel with indigenous peoples in some South American countries.