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Religion Today Summaries - July 27, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 27, 2006

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

  • Anglican Priest Blames Episcopal Church's Problems on Departure from Scripture
  • Uzbek Government Closes Down Western Aid Agency
  • State in India Tightens Controls on Conversions
  • Atlanta Braves to Host First Ever Major League 'Faith Days'

Anglican Priest Blames Episcopal Church's Problems on Departure from Scripture

AgapePress reports a traditional Anglican minister is criticizing his former bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas for allowing parishes to move forward with blessing homosexual relationships. Arkansas Episcopal Bishop Larry Maze recently announced in a letter to clergy that certain parishes in the diocese will "likely move forward" with blessing same-sex unions. This news comes a month after the Episcopal General Convention decided not to adopt a moratorium on same-sex "blessing" ceremonies. At that same gathering, the Episcopal body also rejected a resolution to affirm that Jesus is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" as is stated in John 14:6. Rev. Sam Seamans is the rector of St. Thomas Anglican Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas, and a former Episcopalian. Before leaving the Episcopal Church, he served under Maze. "I must say that he is a very gentle, kind, and sincere bishop," the rector notes. Nevertheless, he says, "I believe that he is sincerely wrong on these theological and doctrinal issues, particularly as it pertains to same-sex blessings and, indeed, the very reality of monogamous homosexual unions and relationships."

Uzbek Government Closes Down Western Aid Agency

Uzbekistan has closed down another Western-funded aid agency, ordering the complete liquidation of the Central Asian Free Exchange (CAFE) and ouster of its foreign staff, Compass Direct News reports. A final appellate court judgment against CAFE was handed down by Tashkent courts on July 11, less than four months after a rash of local court cases were launched against branch CAFE offices in six cities across Uzbekistan. Like 20 other humanitarian groups closed down on scant hearsay evidence within the past two years by the authoritarian Central Asian state, CAFE was charged with various procedural laws it had allegedly violated. But the most serious accusation against CAFE was that the nonprofit group was doing covert missionary work among Uzbekistan’s predominantly Muslim citizens. Due to “conditions in Uzbekistan,” the lengthy verdict claimed, “missionary activity will have fatal consequences.”

State in India Tightens Controls on Conversions

In spite of a national minority panel report confirming violence against Christians in the north-central state of Madhya Pradesh, the state government today passed an amendment making stricter the “anti-conversion” law that has increased persecution of Christians. The amendment, introduced in the House assembly on Friday (July 21), requires clergy and “prospective converts” to notify authorities of the intent to change religion one month before a “conversion ceremony.” Currently the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act of 1968 requires that notice be sent within seven days of conversion. Under the amendment, once advance notification has been received, authorities will decide whether the conversion is “forced” or “by allurement.” The amended law must be signed by the governor before becoming law. “This violates the fundamental right of the people, as it is the government which would decide if a person can be converted or not,” Indira Iyengar, member of the Madhya Pradesh Minorities Commission, told Compass Direct News.

Atlanta Braves to Host First Ever Major League 'Faith Days'

“Faith Days with the Braves” – a post-game Christian concert series featuring Braves pitcher John Smoltz as a guest speaker - will debut Thursday at Turner Field in Atlanta, The Christian Post reports. Third Coast Sports, the sister company to premier Christian artist booking agency Third Coast Artists Agency, is putting on the event, where Aaron Shust and The Afters will perform. “Faith Days with the Braves” marks the Major League debut of the Third Coast Sports event, usually known as “Faith Nights,” which has gained popularity throughout minor league baseball and other sports. A total of three “Faith Days with the Braves” will be held at Turner Field. Former Brave Sid Bream and Jeremy Camp will appear Aug. 13, and Braves pitcher Chris Reitsma and BarlowGirl are scheduled to appear during the Aug. 26 event. Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato from VeggieTales will also appear at all three events.