Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 16, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 16, 2009

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

  • Chinese Government Offers Compensation to Pastor Bike
  • Christian Youth Prepare for Cyber-Missions Trip
  • Warren Applauds Choice of Gene Robinson
  • Religious Groups Seek Executive Order Banning Torture

Chinese Government Offers Compensation to Pastor Bike

Mission News Network reports that Chinese authorities are now paying for their interference and harassment of Pastor "Bike" Zhang Mingxuan and his family. The Public Security Bureau paid 17,000 yuan as an indirect admission of guilt, according to China Aid. The payment covers medical costs for Pastor Bike's son, who was severely beaten by PSB authorities. Pastor Bike's case has garnered international attention since he was forced out of Beijing before the Olympic Games. He has been accosted multiple times since then, including an incident on Dec. 21, 2008, when he was detained and prevented from meeting Christians in Wulanhaote city, Inner Mongolia. Pastor Bike is the head of the Chinese House Church Alliance, which authorities officially eliminated in late November.

Christian Youth Prepare for Cyber-Missions Trip

Nearly 2,000 teens have signed up for a new kind of missions trip -- the virtual kind. According to the Christian Post, the "Online Missions Trip" plans to take the Gospel into social networking sites online. “[T]his is a two-week opportunity for all of us to bombard Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, whatever social places you go to online, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” explains Tim Schomoyer, the organizer of the missions trip and youth pastor at Alexandria Covenant Church in Minnesota, in the missions trip’s promotional video. Dozens of churches worldwide have signed up for the "trip." Like physical mission trips, this online one includes two weeks of training before youth launch their mission Feb. 1. Organizers say the goal is to use online conversations to springboard face-to-face discussions and church event invitations.

Warren Applauds Choice of Gene Robinson

The Washington Post reports that megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who pray the invocation at President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, applauded Obama and his inaugural committee for inviting an openly gay bishop to the week's events. Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, who called the conservative Warren's invitation a "slap in the face" to LGBT groups, will pray at the inaugural opening ceremony on Sunday. Warren praised Obama's choice in a statement, saying Robinson's inclusion "demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground. I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen."

Religious Groups Seek Executive Order Banning Torture

Religion News Service reports that an interfaith coalition of religious groups has asked President-elect Barack Obama to sign an executive order banning torture on his first day in office. Members of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture sent Obama a letter with their request on Friday (Jan. 9) and met with members of his transition team on Wednesday. "We believe it's the singular most important act that he can take after being sworn in that will tell the nation and tell the world that the United States has changed," said Linda Gustitus, president of the campaign, in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. The letter was signed by more than 30 Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders.