Religion Today Summaries, June 30, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, June 30, 2004

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

  • Constitution Party Elects Leader to 'Acknowledge God' in America
  • Iran's Underground Church's 'Spontaneous Growth' Amid Persecution
  • Attempts to Protect Marriage Can Work
  • Pentecostal Minister Promotes 'God's Agenda' as Elected Official

Constitution Party Elects Leader to 'Acknowledge God' in America
Agape Press

A low-profile political party with a high-profile message has chosen its leader. This past weekend, one of the largest Christian-based third parties held its national convention at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The Constitution Party officially tabbed Michael Peroutka as the man it wants in the White House. Peroutka says his party's message will be different from those of the Democrats and the Republicans, asserting that "We are a party that has an American understanding of law and liberty and government." He believes America has strayed from the principles on which the founding fathers established it and that chief among those principles is the acknowledgement of God. That, along with recognizing the influence of God in America's history and heritage, will be a key issue for the Constitution Party, Peroutka says. The Constitution Party candidate notes that this principle was evident in what happened to former Chief Justice Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments battle in Alabama. Peroutka says the party will do just what Moore was trying to do -- "acknowledging the providence of Almighty God" -- as it fights to re-establish the ideals upon which the American Republic was founded.

Iran's Underground Church's 'Spontaneous Growth' Amid Persecution
Charisma News Service

Despite tragedy and persecution, a vibrant underground church is growing in Iran. After an earthquake devastated Bam, Western churches sent relief to the Iranian city. With the situation in Bam opening doors previously shut, missions leaders believe the compassionate response of the worldwide church to the disaster could be a catalyst for the nation's explosive church growth. Today, the church in Iran is growing. Missions experts estimate 20,000-30,000 indigenous evangelical and Pentecostal believers today, most of them from Muslim backgrounds. Some experts -- citing an unknown number of "secret" believers -- claim the true figure could be much higher. "In the last 20 years, more Iranians have come to Christ compared to the last 14 centuries," Lazarus Yeghnazar, an Iranian-born evangelist, said. "They are hungry to learn, eager to discuss the Bible and, in particular, Jesus. They're searching for the truth," explained Tom White, director of The Voice of the Martyrs. He noted that the courage and spiritual passion of Iranian believers is a key factor in the "spontaneous growth" of Iran's house-church movement. Driven underground by persecution, thousands of Iranian Christians -- as many as 30,000-- meet in homes. They switch locations to avoid detection. Although violent persecution has subsided, conversion to Christianity during the last decade has resulted in beating, imprisonment, torture and even execution.

Attempts to Protect Marriage Can Work
Agape Press

A new study shows that when clergy in a community agree to work harder to preserve marriage, they can do just that. Ministers in 185 cities across the U.S. have signed on to a Community Marriage Policy (CMP), in which they make a commitment to make marriage preparation more intensive, enrich existing marriages, and aid troubled ones. These CMPs are the brainchild of Mike and Harriet McManus, who began an organization called Marriage Savers in 1997, in an attempt to help churches halt the high number of divorces that afflict the Christian community. The Institute for Research and Evaluation compared cities that had instituted CMPs with cities in which clergy had no such policy. Over a seven-year period, non-CMP cities saw their divorce rates fall 9.4 percent while CMP cities recorded an average 17.5 percent drop. "The results are important, not because of their magnitude, which is modest, but because there are any results at all," said Dr. Stan Weed, president of the Institute. "The deck was stacked against finding a program effect...There's wide variation in program implementation. The proportion of signed congregations is often small, while the data is county-wide. Serious training of mentor couples began in 1998. Under these conditions, finding a significant program effect is actually pretty surprising." Weed estimated that perhaps as many as 50,000 divorces were averted.

Pentecostal Minister Promotes 'God's Agenda' as Elected Official
Charisma News Service

A Pentecostal minister in Michigan says she seeks to promote "God's agenda" as an elected official. State Rep. Triette Reeves supports traditional marriage and hopes to use her position to strengthen families. Though Reeves is a Democrat, conservative, pro-family groups count on her to vote against abortion. It's something she describes as a "strange alliance," one that surfaces only when she is addressing moral concerns. Issues that affect the poor and disenfranchised are often sources of contention, as Reeves, 38, has also devoted much of her tenure to supporting forums on maternal and infant health care, affirmative action and legislation that would establish a prescription-drug program for seniors in the state. "She is serious in response to her call to ministry and politics to be an advocate for the poor, women and marginal people, lifting up their rights and responsibilities as a voice of God," Tony Curtis Henderson, an adjunct instructor at the Detroit extension of Atlanta's Interdenominational Theological Center, said. A married mother of three and an associate minister at True Believers, a Pentecostal church in Detroit, Reeves believes her call is to promote God's will as a public official. She believes Christians should be engaged -- "not in politics, but a Christian's role is to be God's prophetic voice to political leaders, the community and have an agenda that promotes God's will."