Religion Today Summaries - January 26, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 26, 2005

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

  • Chaplain Calls For Prayer During Iraqi Elections

  • 8th-Graders Told Stripping, Exotic Dancing Are Rewarding Career Choices 

  • Alternative Medicines Can Be Very Confusing

  • Pakistan: Christian Acquitted of Blasphemy

Chaplain Calls For Prayer During Iraqi Elections
Martin King, Baptist Press

A Southern Baptist chaplain stationed in Iraq has requested special prayer for U.S. troops involved in the historic democratic elections scheduled Jan. 30 in that country. "Our troops will be delivering the voting machines and ballots to villages and cities throughout Iraq and are prime targets for the insurgents. Encourage your friends and family members and those within our churches to pray specifically for our soldiers and the electoral process," Capt. Lyle Schackelford asked in an e-mail to friends and family members. "The insurgents do not want Iraqi citizens to vote, so they do not want the equipment to arrive at the polling stations," Schackelford wrote from Iraq.  "Timely delivery must occur so that the elections occur. Freedom will not ring throughout this country if the voting process fails." He encouraged Christians to announce the prayer request in their churches, neighborhoods and places of business. "There is unlimited potential for God's presence in this process. But if we do not pray, our enemy will prevail," Schackelford wrote. "Your prayer support and God's intervention are needed to safeguard our soldiers and give democracy a chance in the war-torn country." Shackelford is one of nearly 2,400 Southern Baptist-endorsed chaplains serving across the country and around the world in the military, hospitals, prisons and other institutions and businesses.

8th-Graders Told Stripping, Exotic Dancing Are Rewarding Career Choices
Jim Brown and Jody Brown, AgapePress

A California pro-family activist is urging school officials in Palo Alto to ban a speaker who told middle-school students that stripping is a profitable career choice. Speaking at the annual career day on January 11 at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School, management consultant William Fried urged girls in the audience to consider stripping and exotic dancing as lucrative career options.  According to a report by Bay Area television station KTVU, Fried went so far as to say that, depending on their bust size, strippers and exotic dancers could make upwards of $250,000 a year or more. Speaking to Associated Press after the fact, the Foster City executive said "It's sick, but it's true. The truth of the matter is you can earn a tremendous amount of money as an exotic dancer, if that's your desire."  The speaker had included the questionable career paths along with others in a list of more than a hundred potential careers.  Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Sacramento-based Campaign for Children and Families, sees the incident as another example of schools in his state allowing children to be indoctrinated with concepts contrary to parents' values.  He says it also exemplifies what happens when society stops degrading prostitution and strip dancing -- and is yet another reason for Christians to remove their children from public schools.

Pakistan: Christian Acquitted of Blasphemy
Charisma News Service

A Christian was recently acquitted of blasphemy in Lahore, but he has been forced to stay in hiding because of death threats. On Dec. 17, Anwer Masih was found innocent, making him the first Pakistani Christian ever acquitted of blasphemy in the nation's lower courts, Compass Direct reported. Masih, 32, was arrested Nov. 30, 2003 for "disturbing someone's religious feelings" and slandering a religious prophet. A neighbor of Masih who had converted from Christianity to Islam claimed that he had mocked his new beard and derided Islamic beliefs. Masih was held in the jail for six months and released on bail on June 4, 2004. But Justin Gill, Masih's lawyer, said his client remains in hiding, unable to be reunited with his wife and four children since his acquittal a month ago, Compass reported. Fanatic extremists from the Lashkar-e-Mujahideen (Islamic Religious Army) have vowed to kill Masih over his alleged remarks against the prophet Muhammad. In a handwritten threat sent to Masih after he was released on bail, the group warned Masih that only heavy police security at his court hearings on Dec. 17 had prevented them from shooting him. (

Alternative Medicines Can Be Very Confusing

The executive director for the Christian Medical Association says all the different types of alternative medicines can be very confusing, and that Christians need to sort them out.  Dr. David Stevens says alternative therapies can range from prayer to yoga to herbal supplements -- and can be put into three different categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  "That's why a couple of years ago we produced a resource called The Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook," Stevens stated. Stevens says some non-traditional therapies come from Eastern mysticism and incorporate spiritual aspects that Christians do not often consider. He says Christians do not realize that when they are using the therapies, they are in fact taking part in that false religion. And he recommends caution be exercised when using herbal therapies. "Alternative medicines are not subject to the same safeguards as traditional medicines. They don't have to be proven to be effective, and there's no standardization in how these are produced and manufactured." Stevens says most alternative medicines have no scientific proof they even work or that they are safe.  He says the best plan is to inform your doctor before starting any type of non-traditional medicine.