Religion Today Summaries - December 23, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 23, 2004

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

  • Faith Was A Dominant Theme In News Coverage For 2004

  • Christian School In India Censured For Distributing Bibles 

  • TIME Lists Rick Warren Among 'People Who Mattered 2004'

  • Secular Journalist: Atheism Is On The Retreat

Faith Was A Dominant Theme In News Coverage For 2004
Baptist Press

At all levels of news coverage, faith was a consistent theme in reporting about the personalities, issues and events that made headlines in 2004. Controversies about faith affected the sports and entertainment fields as well. Prominent figures were noted for the impact of their faith. The stem cell debate heightened following Reagan's death from Alzheimer's disease. Even the internal affairs of religious denominations captured the interests of secular news outfits. Both major political parties have taken note of the impact of "values voters" in the 2004 campaign and will want to capture or counter this movement in the 2006 elections. Also, some of the key moral battles for the culture are far from over -- like the definition of marriage as one man and one woman -- as lawsuits loom by opponents to ballot initiatives passed by voters and laws approved by Congress. Mainline denominations likely will continue to make news on moral issues as they struggle to walk a tightrope tensioned by the opposing forces of scriptural instruction and social influence. Finally, conservative evangelicals likely will be buoyed by the results of their efforts to influence the values of America in 2004 and will continue to press for gains in the coming year. By all accounts, the issue of faith will continue to figure prominently in the press for 2005.

Christian School In India Censured For Distributing Bibles
Compass Direct

A Hindu fundamentalist group has accused a Christian school in Sukma district, Chhattisgarh, of forcibly distributing copies of the New Testament to students with intent to convert them. In a complaint to Sukma district officials, the Dharam Jagran Manch (DJM) insisted that "Father Victor Manuel Raj and other school staff be criminally investigated and prosecuted for the distribution of 600 Bibles and other missionary literature to school students." The DJM also demanded that the school ban Christian preaching and music, that it hire at least 50 percent non-Christian staff members and that an image of the goddess Bharat Mata (Mother India) be prominently displayed on the school grounds. District officials asked the school to comply, despite lawyers' assertions that the demands violate India's Constitution. CLAI lawyers say that requiring the appointment of 50 percent non-Christian staff and restricting student's access to Christian music and literature are also unconstitutional.

TIME Lists Rick Warren Among 'People Who Mattered 2004'
Baptist Press

Southern Baptist pastor Rick Warren has been listed by TIME magazine among the "People Who Mattered 2004" in the same issue in which President Bush was named "Person of the Year." Of Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of "The Purpose-Driven Life," TIME wrote in its Dec. 27 edition: "Spirituality sold well in 2004, but none did better than Pastor Rick and his faith-based self-help book The Purpose-Driven Life, which hit 20 million copies sold. Though criticized for preaching Christianity lite, Warren led by example, giving away 90% of his royalties, campaigning against hunger and expanding a drug-recovery program for prison inmates." Others on the list include: Nancy & Ron Reagan Jr., Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor who created a firestorm by performing gay "marriages", Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, Israeli President Ariel Sharon, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Thomas Kean & Lee Hamilton, 9/11 Commission chairmen whose 567-page report became a best-seller, Lance Armstrong, Steve Jobs, head of Pixar and Apple corporations, Elliott Spitzer, N.Y. attorney general who fought Wall Street, Victor Yushchenko, Ukraine presidential candidate who suffered dioxin poisoning, Martha Stewart, Kobe Bryant, basketball star who was in the headlines for a sexual assault, "Desperate Housewives", and Smarty Jones, the horse that waged "the year's most captivating race.

Secular Journalist: Atheism Is On The Retreat
Wolfgang Polzer, Assist News Service

A secular journalist in Germany is convinced that atheism is on the retreat, while faith is experiencing a renaissance worldwide - with the exception of Western Europe. Stefan Baron, editor in chief of the magazine Wirtschaftswoche (Economic Weekly) in Duesseldorf, comments on this observation in an editorial. He points to the fact that US-Americans re-elected George W. Bush as President. In Europe, on the other hand, a similarly outspoken Christian could not even become an EU commissioner. The European Parliament rejected the Italian Catholic Rocco Buttiglione, because he dared call homosexuality a sin, writes Baron. In his words faith is a sensible option: "Faith is always an adventure, because as mortals we shall never be able to see God face to face. But it is a worthwhile adventure. The adventure is much more dangerous, if humans try to act like God - Hitler, Stalin and Mao are proof for that." Baron also rejects German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's (1844-1900) notion that God is "dead". "Nietzsche is dead, not God." In the meantime a poll among 200 managers revealed that 19.3 percent base their decisions primarily on religious convictions. Baron describes the upcoming Christian leadership Congress organized by the evangelical news agency idea and tempus time management systems as a "church rally for economic leaders". The Congress with 2,300 registered participants takes place in Nuremberg, Germany, January 20 - 22.