Religion Today Summaries - February 1, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 1, 2005

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

  • Super Bowl Host City 'One of The Most Religiously Oriented Venue'

  • Preparing Believers to 'Be Prepared' 

  • Belarus: Officials Fines Church For "Illegal" Use Of Cowshed For Worship Service

  • Mom Wants Pro-Homosexual Poster Out of Ariz. Elementary School

Super Bowl Host City 'One of The Most Religiously Oriented Venue'
Charisma News Service

Local ministers, National Football League (NFL) officials and event organizers say Jacksonville, Fla., host city of Super Bowl XXXIX this weekend, will be one of the most religiously oriented venues in the championship game's history. According to The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville is "going where previous Super Bowl cities have seldom: events relating to faith." Thousands of believers, representing more than 100 congregations, took part in this past Saturday's Super March for Jesus through downtown Jacksonville. Additionally, at least 75 churches are working together to help the Convoy of Hope (CoH) ministry distribute food to 20,000 Jacksonville-area residents this Saturday. The Inspiration Network will televise the convoy block party. Hundreds of Southern Baptist Convention churches are also planning Super Bowl-related activities, including an estimated 200 "game-day watch parties" in fellowship halls and members' homes. In addition, uncounted other congregations are planning street evangelism and other outreaches in an effort to minister to 100,000 out-of-town visitors, the Times-Union reported. Tim Knopps, an Oklahoma-based evangelist hired by the Jacksonville Baptist Association to coordinate its Super Bowl outreach, said he has worked nine Super Bowls and never encountered the level of church involvement in Jacksonville. "It's probably the most aggressive effort I've ever seen on a faith-based level," Knopps said, the Times-Union reported. (

Preparing Believers to 'Be Prepared'
Allie Martin, AgapePress

Organizers of a Florida conference say Christians need to be better prepared to defend their faith in a postmodern world. Answers in Genesis (AIG), a Christian apologetics ministry that equips the church to uphold the authority of the Bible, is sponsoring the "Defending the Faith" winter conference in Fort Lauderdale.  The conference, hosted at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, features a variety of apologetics speakers who will address such topics as "The Crumbling of Evolution," "How to Defend the Christian Faith in Today's World," and "Dinosaurs and the Gospel." Ken Ham, president of AIG and one of the featured speakers, says the conference presents a unique opportunity for Christians to equip themselves to better fight for the faith. The popular speaker says it is vital for Christians to be able to present a solid defense when challenged about their faith in the Creator. "What this conference is all about is equipping Christians in today's world so that they don't just know what they believe as a Christian -- it's not that they just believe the Bible, but they know how to defend their faith," he says. The conference takes place January 31 through February 2.  Evening sessions are open to the public free of charge after 7:00.

Belarus: Officials Fines Church For "Illegal" Use Of Cowshed For Worship Service
Charisma News Service

Authorities are reportedly trying to close down a charismatic congregation in the capital Minsk. On Dec. 30, officials warned 600-strong New Life Church against using a cowshed the congregation owns for worship, Forum 18 News Service reported. This was just two days after church administrator Vasily Yurevich was fined the equivalent of $1,470 dollars for organizing an "illegal" service at the cowshed. "They issued this warning even before we received acknowledgement that our appeal against the fine had been lodged," said pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko, noting that following a second warning, authorities could move to close down the church. The church previously received written notice that its re-registration application had been rejected, rendering all its public activity illegal and subject to punishment. Belarus bans all unregistered religious activity. As a last resort, New Life has been using its cowshed for worship because the church's requests to rent public facilities in Minsk have been refused, Forum 18 reported. Two other charismatic congregations have been targeted for closure after being denied re-registration. (

Mom Wants Pro-Homosexual Poster Out of Ariz. Elementary School
Jim Brown, AgapePress

A Christian mom is expressing shock and outrage over the promotion of homosexuality taking place at her children's elementary school in northeastern Arizona. At issue is a wall poster at Washington Elementary School in Winslow that includes information about the school's female art teacher and features a rainbow flag symbolizing homosexual pride. The poster urges acceptance of all people, regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation. Deborah Ewbank, the Arizona parent who has a second-grade son and fourth-grade daughter at the school, found the images on the wall display as disturbing as its verbal message. "As I looked, I noticed there were only pictures of women together on this poster," she says, "and in one of the pictures, it's highly suggested that these women were going to kiss or had just kissed." Ewbank points out that her efforts to do something about it have met with discouraging results. The Christian mom insists that something must be done about what she considers an age-inappropriate show of homosexual pride in an elementary school that enrolls students as young as age five. Dismayed by what she sees happening in her tight-knit community, Ewbank is determined to take action. She says if homosexuality continues to be affirmed in the school, she plans to pull her children out and work with other parents to begin home schooling.