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Religion Today Summaries - December 15, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 15, 2004

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

  • How Religious Are Europeans And Americans?

  • Ministry Seeks Out Greek Brothels to Help Women Escape Sex Trade

  • 'Pervasively Sectarian' Label Excludes Christian Univ. from State's Student Aid

  • Pastor's Cell-Based Discipleship Model Finds a Home in Churches Worldwide

How Religious Are Europeans And Americans?
Wolfgang Polzer, Assist News Service

The United States of America, Western and Eastern Europe are far apart as far as religion is concerned. While 86 percent of all US-citizens believe in a Creator God this only applies to 80 percent of the population in Eastern and 70 percent in Western Europe. This is one of the results of a recent survey carried out by GfK Custom Research Worldwide with headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany. GfK researchers interviewed 21,000 persons in 21 countries in September and October on behalf of The Wall Street Journal Europe. On the whole, women are more likely to believe in God than men. In Western Europe, for instance, three in four women are convinced that God exists but only two in three men. On average three in four interviewees said that they belong to an organized religion. Among religious adherents Catholics have the majority in 13 of the 21 countries. There are significant differences in worship patterns between East and West. GfK also asked about attitudes towards Jews and Muslims. On average 30 percent feel that anti-Semitism is on the rise; 35 percent see no change, and 14 percent believe that it is on the decline. 44 percent feel that rejection of Muslims is a significant factor, 30 percent perceive little rejection and 9 percent none at all. GfK is the German leader in market research and number five worldwide.

Ministry Seeks Out Greek Brothels to Help Women Escape Sex Trade
Charisma News Service

A ministry based in Greece is reaching out to an influx of prostitutes in the European nation. Drawing its name from the Luke 15 passage in which Jesus describes a woman who swept her house clean searching for one lost coin, Lost Coin missionaries comb Athens' brothels and night clubs to help women find a way out of the sex trade. But because prostitution is legal for adults in Greece and widely accepted, even by many in the church, Lost Coin staff members and volunteers from local churches regularly go to brothels, bars and hotels where the sex trade thrives. They strike up friendships with women, offering them practical help, counseling and a way out. Recently, the 2-year-old outreach established a drop-in center. "One of the most prevalent ways of prostituting in Athens is through small-time pimps who keep women in private apartments," Lost Coin director Jennifer Roemhildt, an American missionary in Athens, told Charisma magazine. During two years of on-the-street ministry, Lost Coin has assisted about 150 women who were working in prostitution, but few actually seek new jobs. Roemhildt said that without an effective exit strategy, women who want to escape are not able to. Roemhildt estimates that about 10,000 women work in the Greek sex industry. Ninety-five percent of those have been trafficked and come from five language groups. (http://www.charismanow.com)

'Pervasively Sectarian' Label Excludes Christian Univ. from State's Student Aid
Jim Brown and Jody Brown, AgapePress

A Christian university has been branded as too religious by the state of Colorado, and its application to participate in state-funded student financial aid programs has been denied.  The school has now filed suit against the state. In Colorado, religious colleges are barred from participating in student financial aid programs if the state deems them "pervasively sectarian."  Last month, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education placed that label on Colorado Christian University (CCU), a four-year interdenominational school located just west of Denver in Lakewood.  According to the school's website, CCU embraces declarations of the National Association of Evangelicals such as the Bible being the inspired and infallible Word of God; a belief in the deity of Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection; and that "regeneration" through the Holy Spirit is essential for personal salvation. Attorney Ben Bull is with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) which, along with the Christian Legal Society, recently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state.  The suit alleges that CCU's exclusion from the aid programs violates the Free Exercise Clause, the Establishment Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Bull contends CCU is the target of religious discrimination.  

Pastor's Cell-Based Discipleship Model Finds a Home in Churches Worldwide
Charisma News Service

César Castellanos' "cellular" call has gone worldwide. The Colombian pastor's model of cell-based discipleship has found a home in churches in every corner of the world. Starting with eight people in Castellanos and his wife Claudia's living room in Bogotá 21 years ago, the movement that was spawned in those humble circumstances has transformed the dynamics of local churches in the United Kingdom, South America and beyond. Now, Misión Carismática Internacional (MCI or International Charismatic Mission) reports 48,000 cell groups composed of five to 15 people each, with nine weekly services in a stadium in Bogotá that seats 18,000. In 2001, Castellanos planted a sister church in Miami that now runs approximately 1,500 and meets on the campus of Florida International University. In 1990, Castellanos believes God began to reveal to him the unique cell-church model now known as the "G12 Vision" or "Government of Twelve." Based on the biblical account of Jesus and His disciples, the G12 model works to engender accountability, submission and spiritual maturity through groups of 12 -- each of whom are accountable to a leader and each of whom will eventually lead a group of 12 themselves. While the model is not without its critics, who suggest that -- in the wrong hands -- it breeds authoritarianism, numerous churches worldwide have duplicated the G12 concept. (http://www.charismanow.com)