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Religion Today Summaries, July 31, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, July 31, 2003

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

  • Israelis Suspend Visits by Non-Muslims to Temple Mount
  • Proposal Wants Motorists to 'Trust God'
  • Typhoon Harurut Destroys Churches in the Phillipines
  • Study Discovers Religious Families Get Along

Israelis Suspend Visits by Non-Muslims to Temple Mount
Alexandra Alter, Religion News Service

Israeli police have suspended controversial visits by non-Muslims to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, a holy site known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary or Haram al-Sharif. Palestinian officials, among them Yasser Arafat, warned there would be "grave consequences" if Israel allowed Jews to visit the site. Visits to the site, which resumed several weeks ago despite Palestinian protests, have been halted amid fears of rising Palestinian anger and rioting. An Israeli police spokesman declined to say when the site would be reopened, citing "operational reasons" for suspending tours. Holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians, the Temple Mount was a popular tourist destination prior to its closure in 2000, when violence erupted after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the site.  In recent weeks, Israel began quietly allowing small groups of tourists, accompanied by armed guards, to again visit the site, third holiest in Islam. "Our desire is to come here in peace," a young American Christian said. "To learn about this land, to learn of the biblical and spiritual and historical significance of this land. And the people of this land are not just Israelis, they're also Arabs." Muslim security forces in charge of the area denied non-Muslims access in the past in part because so many Palestinians have been barred from entering.

Proposal Wants Motorists to 'Trust God'
Charisma News Service

A Christian is calling on the support of Florida believers to mobilize God. Susanne Hilton, 46, who attends Morningside Church in Port St. Lucie, wants the state Legislature to approve a "Trust God" license plate, with the profits used for religious purposes.  She said money collected from the sale of the plates would go to Christian radio stations and charities through her nonprofit organization, The God Connection. If approved, the tag would sell for $25, in addition to the cost of vehicle registration. "I thought the license plate would be a wonderful way to raise ongoing funds for more media for God," Hilton said. "We are besieged with so much negative media. It would be nice to get a positive message out." Hilton, a resident of Stuart on Florida's east coast, needs to demonstrate that at least 15,000 motorists would want to buy the plate before her petition can go to the Legislature. She is soliciting drivers through her Web site. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says a state license plate is not the appropriate venue for a religious message.

Typhoon Harurut Destroys Churches in the Philippines
Christian Aid Report

With winds reaching 190 kilometers per hour (118 mph) Typhoon Harurut pounded four provinces of the Philippine's Luzon Island last week. Warnings were put out for four provinces, two of which were declared "calamity areas." Flooding and winds destroyed hundreds of buildings. The leader of a church planting ministry in the heart of the storm-stricken area e-mailed Christian Aid while the storm was still raging and said a pastor had just called him to say the storm had just destroyed his church and parsonage. He later said that two church buildings were destroyed, while reports from the field were still incomplete. This ministry has 35 churches mostly in rural locations throughout the stricken area. It trains pastors and evangelists before sending them out to remote areas of Luzon.

Study Discovers Religious Families Get Along
Charisma News Service

A new study has affirmed the biblical declaration that a house divided cannot stand. Sociologists with the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recently found that religiously involved American families of youth ages 12 to 14 get along better than families that are not religiously active. Christian Smith, principal investigator of the study, said youth from families who attend church, pray or read Scriptures together are more likely to admire and enjoy their parents more, and get praise from their parents. Additionally, the teens' parents know more about their friends and social contacts, and their families tend to share meals more often and teens are less likely to run away from home. In contrast, youth whose families do not engage in religious activities tend to have weaker relationships with their mothers and fathers, are less likely to participate in family activities, and more likely to run away from home, said Smith, a professor and associate chair of sociology at UNC. A four-year research project, the NSYR began in August 2001 and will continue until August 2005. Smith said the survey is the most extensive and detailed study of U.S. parent-teen relationships that has been conducted on the subject of religion and spirituality.