Religion Today Summaries, February 11, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 11, 2004

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

  • Two Elementary School Cases Reflect Ongoing Battle
  • Chinese Church Movement Grows
  • Author: Believers Not Immune to Depression, but Faith Helps
  • Ministry Equips Christians to 'Reclaim' Hollywood

Two Elementary School Cases Reflect Ongoing Battle
Agape Press

Two recent cases reflect the ongoing battle between proponents of Christian civil liberties and the forces that seek to limit or eliminate Christian religious expression in public venues. A Kettering, Ohio, school district is being sued by the parents of a kindergartener who was prevented from distributing to her classmates bags of jellybeans with a written "prayer" attached. The parents, Allen and Sheila Wuebben, feel the school violated their daughter Madison's rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. The Wuebbens' lawsuit contends that Madison did seek prior permission from her teacher before last Easter to distribute to classmates the candy treats and attached "Jelly Bean Prayer."  In a similar case, the mother of a young boy is bringing a suit against the Gresham-Barlow school district for allegedly prohibiting her child from passing out Christmas cards that made reference to Christ. Julie Cortez and her 6-year old son Justin are being represented by the American Center for Law and Justice. According to the lawsuit, when Justin attempted to hand out his cards, the cards were taken away from the child. The plaintiffs are charging the school district with violating Justin's rights to religious free speech and equal protection under the law.

Chinese Church Movement Grows
Voice of the Martyrs News

A survey carried out in recent months by leaders of the official Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church in Beijing showed that house churches are multiplying in the city. China’s Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) had asked TSPM leaders to collect the information from house church contacts. The survey concluded that there are at least 3,000 unregistered churches in the city. Most are small fellowships with an average of 20 members, but larger groups meet on the outskirts of the city. House church leaders said groups usually divide when they reach 70 members in order to avoid trouble with the authorities. Meanwhile, RAB officials say the construction of two new official church buildings will be completed by December 2004. Some observers believe the provision of these churches is a move to encourage house church Christians to attend official services.

Author: Believers Not Immune to Depression, but Faith Helps
Bill Fancher, Agape Press

A new book provides a Christian doctor's perspective on depression. Dr. Harold Koenig, a psychiatrist and member of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, has contributed his medical expertise and spiritual insights to a work that is being hailed by physicians as the definitive book on depression. The book, entitled New Light on Depression: Help, Hope, and Answers for the Depressed and Those Who Love Them (Zondervan, 2004), examines what leads to the problem of depression, a disorder that affects more than 19 million Americans a year. Koenig points out that, contrary to a common misconception, struggles with depression do not result from weak Christian faith. In fact, he says, even strong believers are not immune to bouts of depression. But the doctor also notes that faith can be a significant factor in overcoming the disease. According to the book, many things can cause or trigger the onset of depression, including genetics, past family dynamics, or present stressful life-patterns or events. He also notes that significant stress in a person's adult life can bring on the condition. A New Light on Depression was co-authored by Evangelical pastor and Doctor of Ministry David Biebel, who has written a number of books.

Ministry Equips Christians to 'Reclaim' Hollywood
Charisma News Service

Leaders of a ministry that prepares Christians for entertainment careers say equipping believers to work behind the scenes can bring change from the inside out in Hollywood. Through his 14-city Conquering Hollywood tour that began in September, producer and director S. Bryan Hickox, winner of several Emmy Awards, is seeking to train believers to be marketable in Hollywood. His two-day event, which costs roughly $300, offers writing instruction from faculty at Act One, a Los Angeles-based ministry that teaches screenwriting to Christians, as well as workshops on acting and how to make a successful pitch. Hickox believes a few hundred Christians working behind the scenes as set designers, makeup artists, casting directors and the like can influence the content coming out of Hollywood. Hickox said research shows that Christians and non-Christians want more films with a moral base, pointing to the recent success of "Finding Nemo," "Bruce Almighty" and "The Matrix Reloaded" as proof. "We have a chance to impact the world," Hickox, a 40-year industry veteran who accepted Christ in 1974, said. "Other countries are growing weary of American morality. As Christians stand on truth, we can reclaim the entertainment industry."