Religion Today Summaries - August 24, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 24, 2005

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

  • World Youth Day: Biggest Worship Service On German Soil

  • Christians Call for Justice in Bangladesh Murders 

  • Christian Attorney Pens Book on Religious Rights and Freedoms

  • Church Members & Inmates Worship Together At 92-Year-Old's Initiative

World Youth Day: Biggest Worship Service On German Soil
Wolfgang Polzer, Assist News Service

The Roman Catholic World Youth Day has ended in the biggest worship service ever on German soil. More than one million participants from 200 countries celebrated an open air mass with Pope Benedict XVI near Cologne, August 21. During the six day “festival of faith” the pontiff also paid a visit to the oldest synagogue in Germany and met with Jewish, Muslim and church leaders. In the Cologne synagogue, which dates back to Roman times, the Pope denounced the holocaust and any emerging anti-Semitic tendencies. He called on Jews and Christians to cooperate in the defense of human rights and the sanctity of life. The Ten Commandments provided a common heritage. In a meeting with Muslim leaders he denounced terrorism and called for an honest religious dialogue. Pope Benedict XVI promised participants of the World Youth Day total indulgence, provided they confess their sins, repent and receive Holy Communion. The Protestant Churches regard this as an unbiblical practice. The Pope urged the German Catholic Bishops to increase their evangelistic efforts. Benedict XVI called attention to the widespread secularization in Germany, especially in the former Communist East. The Pope is encouraged by the spiritual response of the young people. They are not interested in a church, which presents itself artificially as “young”, but rather in a church, which is “young in spirit”, he said.

Christians Call for Justice in Bangladesh Murders
Sarah Page, Compass Direct

Police are still seeking the killers of Tapan Kumar Roy and Liplal Mardi, two Christians brutally murdered in Bangladesh on the night of July 27. Roy and Mardi (not Marandi, as missions groups previously reported) worked as health care workers for Christian Life Bangladesh and often showed the “Jesus” film at the invitation of local villagers. Edward Ayub, a respected area Christian leader, said the two men had received verbal threats from Hafez Abdullah al-Mamun, the supervisor of the madrassa (Islamic school) in Dhopapara village, where the two men were based. Police regard Abdullah as a suspect. They also detained a young man named Yunus Kazi on August 2 on suspicion of murder but released him that night after questioning. With the growth of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh and the climate of impunity, further violence is expected.

Christian Attorney Pens Book on Religious Rights and Freedoms
Allie Martin, AgapePress

A Christian attorney is trying to help believers better understand constitutional law and religious freedom.  Christians, he says, must understand their rights in order to maintain their freedom. In his new book “Eternal Vigilance”, Liberty Counsel president Mat Staver covers topics such as students' rights, teachers' rights, religious symbols on public property, prayers at public assemblies, and other issues involving free speech and religious liberty. Religious liberties, Staver explains, involves the ability to be able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in public places -- and that, he says, is "the most important message in the world." Ignorance and apathy among believers, he contends, has resulted in erosion of civil liberties. "If we don't know what our liberties are and they are infringed, then we'll simply neglect the opportunity to share the gospel," he says, "and children in public schools won't be able to hear the good news of Christ, or Good News Clubs after schools won't be started, or churches won't be able to operate in a particular area of town." Other topics addressed in Eternal Vigilance include the right to picket and demonstrate, door-to-door witnessing, free-exercise rights, and political activity of non-profit organizations. Staver founded Liberty Counsel in 1989.

Church Members & Inmates Worship Together At 92-Year-Old's Initiative
Jeremy Dale Henderson, Baptist Press

Rather than bringing church to inmates at a nearby correctional facility, one Alabama church is bringing the inmates to church -- thanks to the vision of one very unconventional 92-year-old man, Bloise Zeigler. Zeigler, mayor of Oak Grove in Talladega County for 20 years until his retirement at age 87, has been a member of First Baptist Church in Sylacauga since 1948 -- his entire Christian life. As mayor, he often utilized free work crew labor, which led to his empathy for the incarcerated. "I've just got a compassion for these fellas," Zeigler said. "Some of them in there aren't bad at all, they just made a mistake." First Baptist's pastor, Keith Pugh, said Zeigler initiated the move to involve inmates from the Childersburg Community Work Center in church activities in December 2003. The rest is history." "The rest" now includes once-a-month chartered buses full of prisoners headed for First Baptist for Sunday services. The same vehicles return to the work camp full of human beings. The only secret to winning a prisoner's soul, Zeigler said, is to treat it like any other -- to treat inmates like people. Zeigler gets a multitude of letters from prisoners and former prisoners expressing gratitude, often quoting Scripture to him by heart. Several inmates who have been released still attend First Baptist, and one is going into the ministry.