Religion Today Summaries - July 24, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 24, 2008

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

  • Kazakhstan Weighs New Religion Restrictions
  • Grieved Presbyterians Seek Way Forward
  • PBS Documentary Suggests Exodus Not Real
  • India Christians Forced to Flee

Kazakhstan Weighs New Religion Restrictions

The Baptist Press reports that Kazakhstan, which already places burdens on religious organizations, will substantially increase restrictions on expressions of faith if new legislation becomes law, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The former member of the Soviet bloc already requires religious groups to register with the government. Under current law, unregistered groups have to pay fines and supposedly "non-traditional" religious bodies are prohibited from registering or have their registration applications significantly delayed, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reported. The new measure would increase the number of members a religious group must have to register from 10 to 50; prohibit smaller religious bodies from teaching or professing their faith, owning property or renting public buildings; and prohibit gifts from anonymous or foreign donors.

Grieved Presbyterians Seek Way Forward

Christian Post reports that conservative members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) are organizing to discuss the governing body's recent decision favoring homosexuality. In June, the General Assembly approved an "authoritative interpretation" of church order that removed a clause stating that marriage is between a man and a woman, among similar measures. The Assembly's actions "have caused a crisis of conscience within the denomination," said Renee Guth, executive director of the New Wineskins Association of Churches, a network of some 200 conservative Presbyterian churches discontent with the PC(USA). About 200 church leaders will attend the New Wineskins meeting in Atlanta on Aug. 6-7 ahead of their annual convention.

PBS Documentary Suggests Exodus Not Real

The Orlando Sentinel reports that a new PBS documentary, titled "The Bible's Buried Secrets," will upset anyone who claims a literal and inerrant interpretation of Scripture. "It challenges the Bible's stories if you want to read them literally, and that will disturb many people," says archaeologist William Dever, who specializes in Israel's history. The program goes on to discuss how the Bible was written by hundreds of authors in sixth century BC, at least five books of it during the Babylonian exile. The program also challenges Abraham, Sarah and their offspring as actual historical figures. Still, says Duke University religion professor Carol Meyers, "it doesn't mean that there's no kernel of truth to it."

India Christians Forced to Flee

In India's West Bengal state, local Christians and missionaries faced death threats for their faith, according to Mission News Network. Fourteen members of a Gospel for Asia church were severely beaten and forced to leave their homes on July 10, after being accused of forcing conversions and bringing an illness on the village. The mob threatened to kill the believers if they remained in the village. Village leader Negesh Rai brought the matter to the attention of local police, which led to calls for his resignation by protesting villagers. On July 16, the believers were removed to a different area for safety.