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Religion Today Summaries - July 5, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 5, 2007

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

  • Vacation Bible School Decline Alarms Christian Educators
  • Turkish Converts Subjected to Official Harassment
  • Episcopal Leader Urges Episcopalians to 'Hang in There'
  • House Rejects Africa AIDS/Abstinence Aid

Vacation Bible School Decline Alarms Christian Educators

According to WorldNetDaily, a children's organization says churches apparently are reflecting the national marital change in priorities away from children being a necessary part of a successful marriage, since tens of thousands fewer congregations now offer vacation Bible school. New studies show that the number of churches and ministries offering VBS has been dropping. A report from The Barna Group noted that between 1997 and 2005, there was a 15 percent decline in the percentage of churches offering vacation Bible schools for children. The drop was from 81 percent of churches surveyed, to 69 percent. "That represents about 38,000 fewer churches offering VBS than eight years [earlier]," the report said.

Turkish Converts Subjected to Official Harassment

In a bizarre twist in the criminal prosecution of two Turkish Christians for “insulting Turkish identity” under the nation’s notorious Article 301, an administrative district authority in Istanbul has ordered the converts from Islam fined for “illegal collection of funds.” Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal were summoned to Istanbul’s Beyoglu police headquarters on Sunday morning (July 1) just before church services began at the Taksim Protestant Church, where Tastan is a member. The two men were accused of collecting money without permission from local authorities. “This is ridiculous,” the men’s attorney, Haydar Polat, told Compass Direct News. “It has nothing whatever to do with the original case against my clients.”

Episcopal Leader Urges Episcopalians to 'Hang in There'

The Christian Post reports that one of the top leaders in The Episcopal Church visited a divided diocese advising Episcopalians to "keep calm." Episcopal House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson addressed more than 275 people from 21 of the 60 congregations in the Diocese of Rio Grande in Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday, urging them to "hang in there with us" a month after the diocese asked for alternative pastoral care for many of its parishes wanting to leave The Episcopal Church. "Keep your eyes on the prize, which is the reconciliation of the world through Jesus Christ, whom we love more than life itself," said Anderson to those wanting to remain in The Episcopal Church, according to the Episcopal News Service.

House Rejects Africa AIDS/Abstinence Aid

Baptist Press reports that the House of Representatives has struck down an amendment that would have reinstated funding for abstinence education programs to fight AIDS in Africa. Rep. Joe Pitts, R.-Pa., introduced the amendment to the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, which had arrived on the House floor without the provision for abstinence programs under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) authorization. The House vote, 226-200, would eliminate the requirement that 33 percent of funds be allocated toward abstinence and be faithful programs under the ABC model -- abstinence, be faithful and condoms when necessary. The White House has warned that President Bush would veto legislation repealing abstinence funding.