Religion Today Summaries, June 11, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, June 11, 2003

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

  • Wal-Mart Takes Another Step to Clean Up Magazine Racks

  • Saudi Arabia Involved in Christian Interrogation and Deportation

  • Europe 'the New Mission Field'

  • Poll Says Americans Are Pessimistic About Ethics and Morality

Wal-Mart Takes Another Step to Clean Up Magazine Racks
Baptist News Press

In response to customer pressure, Wal-Mart executives have decided to cover some women's magazines stocked in the stores' checkout lanes. "U-shaped blinders" will cover the photos and language on the covers of Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Marie Claire and Redbook, the Associated Press reported. The decision was made at the company's annual shareholders meeting on June 6, and it follows a similar decision made only weeks before to stop selling three racy men's magazines.  Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams said the decision to use the plastic shields is "to accommodate those customers who are uncomfortable with the language on some of the magazine covers." The company has been testing the blinders in some stores, and expects them to be in every store by July.  Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land said Americans concerned about morality and decency in popular culture should applaud Wal-Mart's move.  The "courageous" move, coupled with Wal-Mart's policies of not carrying CDs bearing explicit lyrics warnings and requiring proof of age for purchasing mature-labeled video games, "underscores Wal-Mart's strong reputation as a pro-decency, pro-family commercial enterprise," Land said. Land also predicted that Wal-Mart's actions would have a tremendous positive impact on other retail chains.  (

Saudi Arabia Involved in Christian Interrogation and Deportation
Compass Direct

Germaye Ambaye, an Eritrean Christian, remains imprisoned in a crowded deportation center in Saudi Arabia for "Christian activities." Both Ambaye and Endeshawe Yizengaw, a Christian parishioner deported over two weeks ago, were active in the Ethiopian-Eritrean Christian congregation in Jeddah. After the men had their residence permits secretly revoked, Saudi police arrested them. On the day of his arrest, Yizengaw said the security police literally tore his house apart. "Finally they brutally beat me on the face," he said. They attempted to force him to name every Arab Muslim to whom he had ever "preached Christ." Yizengaw said they accused him of evangelizing Saudi Muslims and of receiving American funding. Yizengaw said he does talk about Christ on a regular basis with Muslims, "but I did not get a penny from anybody. God was on my side." In an effort to conceal their real reason for arresting and deporting him, the Saudi authorities claimed that Yizengaw had been involved in making alcohol and running a prostitution ring. Despite the fact that their jailers and most of their cellmates were Muslims, Yizengaw said, "Girmaye and I just told every one of them that Jesus is Lord." In response, "One police officer was saying to cut our heads off."

Europe 'the New Mission Field'
Charisma News Service

Ugandan Arnold Muwone is part of a new breed of missionaries in Europe, from countries once on the receiving end. His ministry "targets first and foremost the British people as gesture of thank-you for coming to Africa and bringing us the gospel," he told "Time" magazine. "Before they came, we were worshipping trees and demons," the Pentecostal minister told the newsweekly for a report examining how Christianity is becoming a minority faith in Europe "as church attendance falls, the clergy ages, and scandals and harsh doctrine drive people away." The gospel is spreading among immigrants, "Time" noted. It reported on the 1,500-member church in a Parisian suburb, founded by an Indian, Selvaraj Rajiah, where almost the entire congregation originated from outside France. They "find support in the church," Rajiah said. "We pray with them. We give them comfort. We give them counsel." The report also noted the success of Alpha, the introductory course to Christianity launched at a London Anglican church in 1992, which has since spread to more than 130 countries. "Our society has changed," said Alpha founder Nicky Gumbel. "We don't need to change the message but we need to change the way we put it across." (

Poll Says Americans Are Pessimistic About Ethics and Morality
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

More than three-quarters of Americans have a pessimistic view of the current state of ethics and morality, and even fewer see it getting better, according to a new Gallup Poll. Seventy-seven percent of Americans rated current ethics and morality as "fair" or "poor," while 22 percent rated them "good" or "excellent." George H. Gallup Jr., the firm's chairman, said women, older people and churchgoers are the most critical of the country's ethical climate. Gallup said there was little difference between conservatives, moderates and liberals. Gallup said "ethics and morality" usually ranks high on the list of American concerns. This year the category was statistically tied with terrorism, education, health care, fear of war and dissatisfaction with the government. "Immorality was splashed across the headlines as scandals rocked corporate boardrooms, Wall Street, accounting firms, the Catholic Church, and even major league baseball," Gallup said. "Given all the high-profile malfeasance, it may surprise some that Americans' perceptions of the moral state of the country have not grown more negative since May 2002." Two-thirds of Americans said the moral and ethical climate is getting worse, and 24 percent said it was getting better. Only 13 percent said the country was doing well and getting better.