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Religion Today Summaries - February 16, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 16, 2005

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

  • Alarming Number of 'Stayaway Saints' Affecting Today's Church

  • Researcher In United Kingdom Given Approval To Create Human Clones

  • Catholic League President Takes Issue With DNC Chairman and His Successor

  • Cambodia: Rescued Prostitutes Reach Children for Christ

Alarming Number of 'Stayaway Saints' Affecting Today's Church
Charisma News Service

An alarming number of Christians are staying home on Sunday mornings and the trend is affecting today's church. Believers who have become "stayaway saints" are alternately worrying and exciting church leaders, pointing to what is being seen as either a serious threat to the spread of the gospel or the actual cusp of a revolution that could usher in the sort of revival many have prayed for and dreamed of for years.  A recent study by The Barna Group, a California-based Christian research organization, found that about 13 million Americans whom the researchers identified as being born again were "unchurched ... not having attended a Christian church service, other than for a holiday ... at any time in the past six months." David Barrett, author of the World Christian Encyclopedia, estimates there are about 112 million "churchless Christians" worldwide. He projects that number will double by 2025 -- though it includes both nominal believers and those part of underground churches in nations where they face persecution for their faith. Concern about the growing number of Christians she had met who no longer attended church regularly prompted Pat Palau, wife of international evangelist Luis Palau, to collaborate last year on a book, "What to Do When You Don't Want to Go to Church." (www.charismanow.com)

Researcher In United Kingdom Given Approval To Create Human Clones

A Christian medical group is reacting to news that a researcher in the United Kingdom has been given approval to create human clones -- which is tantamount to a "license to kill," since the scientist must subsequently destroy all those human beings he clones for study. The British government has given the green light to Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute to begin cloning human embryos, and Dr. David Stevens of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations is responding to the news with concern. "This is something that should be disturbing to us all," he says, "that life has become so cheap that a clone-and-kill policy that's now on the books in that country doesn't cause more of an outrage in ours." The CMDA spokesman worries that U.S. taxpayers may soon be forced to pay for human cloning experiments. He notes that Harvard's Human Research Committee has actually already applied for permission to clone and kill human beings for research purposes. Dr. Stevens says if this idea that life is cheap or can be used as a commodity for "research purposes" continues unchecked, Americans could see that mentality spreading throughout their nation before long.

Cambodia: Rescued Prostitutes Reach Children for Christ
Christian Aid Mission

Women who have been rescued from prostitution by native missionaries are, through a unique rehabilitation program, becoming witnesses for Christ among Cambodian children. One indigenous ministry draws women and girls out of prostitution and works to restore their lives in the name of Christ. The women live in a center where they are taught an income-producing skill, such as sewing or cosmetology, and basics of reading and writing. All this is done in the name of Christ, with Bible studies held every night. As a result, nearly all the former prostitutes living at the center have accepted the Lord. They now have a chance to actively demonstrate their faith through the ministry's feeding program for needy children. Each girl in the center helps distribute food and water to a group of 100 children. Along with the food, they teach Christian songs and tell Bible stories. The ministry's leader reports that as a result of this outreach, many children have begun attending church. Nearly 65 percent of these women and girls were forced into prostitution against their wills, sold by relatives or lured by promises of legitimate jobs. Missionaries know that these women need the restoring love of Jesus Christ.

Catholic League President Takes Issue With DNC Chairman and His Successor

The president of the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization is taking issue with both the outgoing chairman of the Democratic National Committee and his successor. Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe recently remarked at a send-off gala in his honor that he was dismayed by Catholic Church leaders in the November 2004 election because of the way they used their pulpits and "told people it was a sin to vote for John Kerry." However, Catholic League president William Donohue says it is outrageous for this "sore loser" to caricature the Catholic bishops' statements in this way. Also, the Catholic League president has problems with a statement that Howard Dean recently made, claiming that the Democrats "have to remind Catholic Americans that the social mission of the Democratic Party is almost exactly the social mission of the Catholic Church." A case can be made for that position, Donohue says, but it must also be said that the DNC's positions on abortion, stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, and school vouchers are the "mirror opposite of the church's teachings." Dean also advised Democratic abortion-rights extremists that they need not change their position but "we can change our vocabulary." But Donohue says if the DNC hopes to bring Catholics back into the fold, it is the party's policy -- not its vocabulary -- that will have to change.