Religion Today Summaries, July 19, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 19, 2004

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

  • Jailed Pastor in India Released on Bail 
  • Pastor Works to Turn Sideline Believers Into Motivated Voters
  • Leader Calls For Inquiry Into Removal Of Buried Christian
  • Billy Graham Coming to Kansas

Jailed Pastor in India Released on Bail
Vishal Arora, Compass Direct

A Christian pastor and his associate, jailed for alleged violation of the state's anti-conversion law, were released on bail July 14 after more than six weeks of incarceration in the state of Orissa, India. Subas Samal and Dhaneshwar Kandi of Kilipal village were arrested May 29 and were charged with "conversion by inducement" under the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA). Their arrest came after local Hindu villagers forcibly shaved the heads of Samal and six local Christian women to mark their "re-conversion" to Hinduism. After Hindu villagers were arrested in connection with that incident, locals retaliated by bringing charges of illegal conversion against Samal and Kandi. A court magistrate insisted on carefully studying the case file on Samal and Kandi before granting their bail, because theirs is the first case brought under the state's anti-conversion law. Now free, the Christians hope to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict with their Hindu neighbors in Kilipal.

Pastor Works to Turn Sideline Believers Into Motivated Voters
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A Tennesee pastor says the recent unsuccessful effort to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) is proof that Christians need to take more seriously their right and privilege to vote. Kenyn Cureton is Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lebanon, Tennessee, near Nashville. He often takes the time to encourage his church members to register and says Christians need to be proactive when it comes to choosing candidates and voting. "Find out what your Christian values are on these major issues -- where you stand -- and then look for candidate's who endorse you. Don't endorse a candidate; find the ones who endorse you and your values," he says. In an effort to equip Christians to do this, Cureton helped the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention develop a new initiative called "I Vote Values (" The Tennessee pastor says the purposes of the Internet site is primarily to reach the people who are on the sidelines. "We're trying to get people off the sidelines and into the game," he says, "to really exercise their Christian responsibility to be salt and light in every area of life -- not just the spiritual but in the world of art and music and education and, in this case, politics." The "I Vote Values" Web site includes candidate profiles, their stance on a wide range of issues and tips on registering people to vote.

Leader Calls For Inquiry Into Removal Of Buried Christian
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

Madhu Chandra, Coordinator of Operation Mobilisation's work in Chandigarh, India, has appealed to the All India Christian Council to look into the case of the body of a Christian believer which was removed from a cemetery in Manipur, India. Early one morning last week, the Rev. N. Debenedra Singh called Chandra telling him that the dead body of a Christian believer was removed from a grave by Hindu villagers. The body was that of the mother of Pastor Amuba of Patsoi village in Manipur who died on July 13, 2004. There are only 25 Christians in Patsoi. These villagers purchased a cemetery with proper documentation to be used as a church cemetery. When the body was ready to be buried, many non-believers rallied against the Christians, saying they could not have the Christian cemetery in the village. "The original landowner of the cemetery has also changed the version that the land was sold to the church to make their park, not for a cemetery," said Chandra. After the funeral service was over, the villagers removed the dead body from the grave and took it to the pastor's home, as a warning to Christian families. Rev. Singh and other Christian leaders have buried the body after two days at another cemetery. "Rev. Singh has registered the case in the police station to book those responsible for the unconstitutional act," Chandra said. "Police had not taken any action...Therefore I would like to appeal to All India Christian Council and Human Rights to look into the situation," said Chandra.

Billy Graham Coming to Kansas
Mary Rettig, Agape Press

Preparations continue for a Billy Graham crusade scheduled to take place this fall at Pasadena's Rose Bowl. The event was originally scheduled for this month but postponed until mid-November after Graham broke his Pelvis in May. Another crusade in Kansas City, Kansas, was moved to early October. Los Angeles crusade director Jeff Anderson says hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend the November event. More than a thousand churches have signed on to help, and nearly 800 people have volunteered to serve as ushers and section captains. Anderson also says it is estimated that the event will cost about 5 million dollars, which will be raised by churches, donors, and offerings from the people who attend.