Religion Today Summaries, January 6, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, January 6, 2004

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

  • Chinese House Churches Agonize Over Registration

  • Washington Liberals Wary of Those with 'Deeply Held Beliefs'

  • Covert Ways Used to Send Aid, Gospel Into North Korea

  • Indonesian Carolers Attacked Near Police HQ

Chinese House Churches Agonize Over Registration
Xu Mei, Compass Direct

Registration is still a hot issue for China's long-suffering house churches. The government insists on registration as the only means of legal existence for churches. Registration means subjection to the Communist Party's Religious Affairs Bureau and other bodies controlled by atheists. Evangelism, finances, pastoral appointments and Sunday sermons are all ultimately managed by the Religious Affairs Bureau. A house church leader in Jilin province recently wrote a letter that vividly illustrates the dilemma Chinese Christians face. "Several of our church workers have searched the Scriptures and believe it is not right for the church to register. Now our church is scattered and under persecution. ... But in a neighboring village, there is a big registered church set up 10 years ago. Their leaders believe the church should obey the higher powers and register with the government. ... Because the viewpoints of these two churches are so different, the leaders have no spiritual fellowship. ... Does our lack of fellowship with the Three Self church constitute schism?"

Washington Liberals Wary of Those with 'Deeply Held Beliefs'
Bill Fancher, Agape Press

Senate Democrats have established a new code word in their war against those who are devoutly religious. William Murray, director of the Washington, DC-based Religious Freedom Coalition, says Democrats in the U.S. Senate have instituted a new code word to justify their bigotry.  That code word is actually the phrase: "deeply held beliefs." "'Deeply held beliefs' is a code word for bias against those individuals who actually believe the Bible," Murray says.  "It's a code word for bias against Catholics who obey the church doctrine." According to Murray, the code "deeply held beliefs" is being used by Senate Democrats in their filibustering sessions to prove that some judicial nominees are unfit to serve on the federal bench -- particularly on the Circuit Court, which he points out is the primary recruiting ground for the U.S. Supreme Court. "It is becoming more and more apparent that the Democrats do not want anybody on the circuit court ... who has 'deeply held' religious beliefs," he says. Murray believes pro-abortion Democrats are afraid religious judges will overturn Roe v. Wade and end legalized abortion in the U.S.  Some Christian leaders have called the Democrats' tactic "blatant, intolerant bigotry."

Covert Ways Used to Send Aid, Gospel Into North Korea
Charisma News Service

Christians are seeking covert ways to send aid into North Korea, a country where human-rights groups say religious freedom is nonexistent. One medical missionary says Christianity is the communist nation's biggest fear. Humanitarian relief experts report that more than 4 million people have died of hunger since 1995. Anyone caught criticizing President Kim Jong-Il is arrested and subjected to hard labor, torture, starvation, biochemical experimentation or mass execution. "Kim Jong-Il does not allow any god besides him," German doctor Norbert Vollertsen, who traveled to North Korea, taking video and still images of the starved and dying, said. "Christianity is their main enemy because they know about the power of Christianity." Christians on the outside haven't lost hope for North Korea. Tim Peters, an American missionary and founder of Helping Hands Korea, has lived in South Korea for 13 years. His ministry sends food into North Korea through proven smugglers who have managed to get food into the hands of the most needy. Besides its normal monthly shipments, the ministry delivered 19 tons of baby food to a northeastern province last year. Last summer, Vollertsen and supporting activists attempted to launch helium balloons carrying small, solar-powered radios from South Korea's northern border into North Korea. Vollertsen hoped the radios would give citizens access to the outside world.

Indonesian Carolers Attacked Near Police HQ
Allie Martin, Agape Press

Singing Christmas carols proved dangerous for six youths in Indonesia -- despite increased security and police presence. It was several days before Christmas when six young people were sitting outside of the Indonesian Christian Church in Poso, singing Christmas carols.  Police say two men riding a motorcycle and carrying a military-style pistol shot at the young people.  Two were hit and sustained minor injuries.  The incident, which took place only 200 yards from police headquarters, was the third such attack in the area in the last several months. Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs, says Christians in Indonesia face danger on a daily basis.  He explains that Indonesia has the highest population of Muslims of any country in the world, and has a history of peaceful coexistence between different religious groups.  But things have changed, he says. "Over the last about three years, we have really seen that [peaceful coexistence] go downhill, and Christians have been repeatedly targeted by extremist Muslims there in Indonesia," Nettleton says.