12 Days of Giveaways - Spin & Win! Sign up before Dec. 25th to win daily prizes and a $250 Amazon.com Gift Card. Find out details.

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 16, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 16, 2008

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

  • Christian Presence, Missionary Activity, Not Wanted in Afghanistan
  • Survey: Majority of Americans Support Religious Expression in the Public Square
  • Vatican Slams Harry Potter as 'Wrong Kind of Hero'
  • Free Church Website Evaluations Now Available Online

Christian Presence, Missionary Activity, Not Wanted in Afghanistan

According to ASSIST News Service, reports of restrictions on Christian missionary activity in Afghanistan are now coming in as a result of the Muslim clerics who protested the presence of Christian missions in Afghanistan. "All missions web sites are being scrutinized and if they refer to any Christian activity, wherever it occurs, then visas are refused. This does not mean those doing evangelism, but just their presence is not wanted," writes a correspondent in-country who wished not to be named for security reasons. "It maybe a phase and restrictions relaxed at a later date or it may be a way of tightening up generally... Christian money and expertise has gone a long way to rebuild the country, nurses, doctors and technicians have served the land well and, of course, soldiers of many nations have sought to bring safety for all."

Survey: Majority of Americans Support Religious Expression in the Public Square

Baptist Press reports that most Americans believe it should be legal to have voluntary student-led prayers at public school events, display the Ten Commandments inside a court building and allow religious displays on city-owned property, according to research released by Ellison Research of Phoenix. As part of the survey, Ellison presented a number of scenarios to a representative sample of 1,007 American adults and asked whether various modes of religious expression generally should or should not be legal in the United States. Results indicated that 90 percent said the law should support religious groups renting public property, such as a public school gym or a library room; 89 percent said it should be legal for a public school teacher to permit a moment of silence for prayer or contemplation for all students during class time; and 88 percent believe it should be legal for public school teachers to wear religious symbols.

Vatican Slams Harry Potter as 'Wrong Kind of Hero'

The Christian Post reports that the Vatican, in a recent edition of its newspaper, headlined an article by an expert in English literature who calls teen wizard Harry Potter "the wrong kind of hero." In the article, Edoardo Rialti writes about the harmful effects of the "half-truth" messages presented by J.K. Rowling. Rialti’s attack echoes the sentiment of Pope Benedict XVI, who voiced fears in 2003 that the "subtle seductions" contained in the Potter series could "corrupt the Christian faith" in impressionable young children. Young Christian minds will "lose the spirit of discernment between good and evil and that they will not have the necessary strength and knowledge to withstand the temptations to evil," the Pope (before becoming Pope) wrote in a March 2003. Now Rialti writes that many have tried to establish a parallel between the "fantasy masterpieces" JR Tolkein's “Lord of the Rings” and CS Lewis “Narnia” books with the Potter series, but argues that other than "superficially apparent common points," there is nothing similar between them.

Free Church Website Evaluations Now Available Online

ASSIST News Service reports that churches can now receive a free customized 15-page report about their websites, enabling them to develop strategies to reach outsiders in their communities. And this year’s international web outreach focus day -- Internet Evangelism Day -- will be used by churches around the world on Sunday, April 27, 2008. A new online tool has been released by Internet Evangelism Day, which provides churches with a free 15-page evaluation report. Users assess their own website by answering 55 simple questions on the tool questionnaire. Their customized report is immediately displayed online, ready to print or save. Its recommendations are tailored with specific practical suggestions, based on the questions that were ticked. View the design tool here: www.InternetEvangelismDay.com/design.