Religion Today Summaries - July 17, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 17, 2007

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

  • ECFA Creates New 'Church Division'
  • Pakistani Mob Confesses to Church Attack
  • Two Firsts with 2007s' Christian Book of the Year: a Novel, by Female Author
  • Wal-Mart to Sell Religious Toys

ECFA Creates New 'Church Division'

According to a Religion News Service release, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) has created a new division for churches. Kenneth Behr, ECFA president, announced the establishment of the Church Division at the 51st National Conference of the National Association of Church Business Administration (NACBA). "There are more than 300,000 churches across the United States, and local congregations and their members are seeking guidance and the assurance that association with an organization like ECFA can bring," said Behr. "In order to help continue and expand its calling, ECFA's new Church Division will help churches demonstrate the highest standards of accountability that convey God-honoring, ethical practices." Members of the Church Division will receive a number of unique benefits, including continuing education provided by ECFA staff at regional seminars and other conferences. Subjects covered will include leadership, governance, financial stewardship, fundraising and accountability.

Pakistani Mob Confesses to Church Attack

Muslims have apologized for attacking a church last month in Pakistan’s Punjab region but offered no compensation for injuring Christians and damaging the building. In addition to wounding seven Christians and destroying books at the Salvation Army church in Chak 248, a village 20 miles north of Faisalabad, the perpetrators admitted that a Muslim resident had planned to burn a page of the Quran – punishable with life imprisonment under Pakistani law – and blame the Christian community. “We are sorry and promise that this will not happen in the future,” Faizur Rehman, one of 41 Muslims originally accused with attacking the church on June 17, said in a June 28 notarized affidavit. “The Christian people have forgiven them,” lawyer Khalil Tahir Sindhu, legal representative for the Christian community, told Compass Direct News. He said that both parties had dropped court cases in which they accused each other of instigating violence, though he admitted he was not in favor of the out-of-court settlement. “This is called impunity,” the lawyer protested.

Two Firsts with 2007s' Christian Book of the Year: a Novel, by Female Author

Christian inspirational author and novelist Karen Kingsbury was awarded the 2007 Christian Book of the Year Award last week for her bestselling novel, Ever After. The award, given out at the International Christian Retailing Show in Atlanta, marks the first time ever that the Book of the Year was won by a novel. It was also the first time ever that the award was given to a woman. Previously, the Book of the Year has been awarded to pastors and scholars, such as Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life. “It is exciting to see a novel win Christian Book of the Year,” says ECPA President Mark Kuyper. “Anyone and everyone can read this book and be profoundly impacted." Kingsbury also won Author-of-the-Year from the national Logos Book Group, and Best Novel in the Retailers Choice Awards for her book, Found.

Wal-Mart to Sell Religious Toys

USA Today reports that 425 Wal-Mart stores nationwide will begin carrying faith-based toys from One2believe that target parents who would rather that their kids "play with a Samson action figure than a Spider-Man action figure." The world's largest retailer has never to this point carried a full line of religious toys. "We're seeing interest from parents in faith-enriching toys," says Melissa O'Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. Religious products have become a multibillion-dollar business, and that business is seeking to target a younger audience.