Religion Today Summaries, July 23, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 23, 2003

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

  • Presbyterians to Launch Second Probe of Missionary Children Abuse
  • Pastors, Nuns Suffer Abuse in 'Evangelical Capital'
  • New Poll Shows Generation Gap in Opposition to Same-Sex 'Marriage'
  • Pakistan: Kidnapped Christian Girl Wins Divorce Case

Presbyterians to Launch Second Probe of Missionary Children Abuse
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

The Presbyterian Church (USA), which last year documented scores of abuse cases against missionary children in the Congo, will launch a second probe to investigate abuse allegations from Egypt and Cameroon. The church's General Assembly Council authorized the investigation last month. A three- to five-member Independent Abuse Review Panel is expected to begin its work by Oct. 1. The panel, which will continue its work through 2009, will investigate alleged abuse against missionary children at the American Presbyterian Mission in Alexandria, Egypt, between 1950 and 1980, and at the Hope School in Elat, Cameroon in the 1960s.  "We want to be part of the healing for anyone who has already had something happen to them that shouldn't have happened, but we also want to prevent something from happening again," said the Rev. Marian McClure, director of the church's Worldwide Ministries Division.   The panel would only handle abuse claims against former church employees. Any charges that are filed against current employees would be handled in a separate process. The panel was called because the allegations in Egypt and Cameroon were beyond the scope of a 173-page report issued last October that unearthed abuse at a missionary school in the Congo. That report found 48 separate incidents of abuse -- involving at least 22 women and girls.

Pastors, Nuns Suffer Abuse in 'Evangelical Capital'
Compass Direct

They are calling it "serial persecution." Christians in the state of Karnataka have never faced it before. During a one-day public hearing organized by the All India Christian Council on June 12, a "jury" heard 50 cases of persecution. Typical of incidents occurring almost daily is the case of Brother Prashant from the small town of Tumkur. On March 9, Prashant was having breakfast in a parishioner's home following Sunday worship when a group of saffron-clad men wielding knives and sticks came through the door and dragged him outside. The assailants tore Prashant's cassock, forced him to utter slogans like "glory to the Hindu religion" and, as a final mark of humiliation, applied a red religious powder to his forehead. Karnataka's capital city of Bangalore, home to 10 major theological colleges and 100 Bible schools, serves as the nation's evangelical capital. Ninety percent of the mission organizations in India maintain headquarters and training centers there, together deploying some 44,000 missionaries.

New Poll Shows Generation Gap in Opposition to Same-Sex 'Marriage'
Michael Foust, Baptist Press News

A generation gap exists in the country's debate over same-sex "marriage," new research by the Gallup Organization shows. According to the research released July 22, 55 percent of adults oppose legalizing same-sex "marriage," while 39 percent support it. However, 61 percent of young adults (ages 18-29) say they support legalizing same-sex "marriage." This age bracket is the only one in the poll supportive of the controversial issue. Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, attributed the numbers among young adults to two factors: sex education in the public schools and homosexual-friendly entertainment. "Clearly, we are losing the battle for hearts and minds [of young adults] to the pop culture, to MTV, to Disney and ABC, and to the other networks who are constantly bombarding our young people with positive images of homosexuality," he said. Another social conservative, Focus on the Family's Glenn Stanton, believes that support among young adults for same-sex "marriage" is thin and is "not gained by strong conviction." It is a "shrug of the shoulders" position reflected in the "whatever" bumper stickers popular among youth, he said. "When you put forth some well-reasoned arguments," minds begin changing, said Stanton, Focus on the Family's director of social research and cultural affairs. "I think we can gain a lot of those young people back."

Pakistan: Kidnapped Christian Girl Wins Divorce Case
Compass Direct

Five years after she was kidnapped, sold and forcibly married to a Muslim stranger, a young Pakistani Christian woman has won legal divorce from the man. In a landmark decision, the Lahore Family Court granted Maria Samar John formal dissolution of her 1998 marriage to Abdul Ghaffar. Now 23, Maria was only 17 when she was tricked by a Muslim relative to leave her home in Lahore. She was locked into a room by herself for five months, until the day armed men arrived with a stranger she realized was to be her bridegroom. The man, Ghaffar, paid her kidnapper the equivalent of $2,000, and a wedding ceremony was performed. In September 1999, Maria, pregnant at the time, managed to find a house key and escape Ghaffar's home with the couple's baby son. Her divorce suit, aided by the Lahore-based Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, took 26 months to resolve. According the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 226 underage girls were reported kidnapped in the Punjab province in 2001 under circumstances like Maria's. Only 12 were recovered and returned to their families.