Religion Today Summaries -- March 12, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries -- March 12, 2004

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

  • Indian Newspaper Attributes ‘Evangelism Boom’ To U.S. Government
  • Net Users Seeking More Religion Info
  • Uzbekistan Church Shut Down for Ministering to Children
  • Global Day of Prayer for Burma to Be Observed In Taiwan and London

Indian Newspaper Attributes ‘Evangelism Boom’ To U.S. Government
Compass Direct

Tehelka, a weekly newspaper launched on January 30, accused the U.S. government of having a "conversion agenda" for India. The 11-page cover story in the inaugural issue portrayed Christian missionary work as a "sinister and disturbing phenomenon" that should "ring alarm bells within the intelligence agencies in India." A second report on February 7 claimed mission organizations were using the HIV/AIDS crisis as an opportunity for evangelism. Both Catholic and Christian leaders said the claims are ludicrous and planned to issue a joint press statement refuting the allegations. Meanwhile, Tehelka proudly admitted that two senior staff members had assumed false Christian identities for their investigation of several mission organizations. "Tehelka has carried an unfair representation of my views," one Christian leader told Compass. Many Christians fear the reports will fuel religious tensions throughout India. (

Net Users Seeking More Religion Info
Jason Collum, Agape Press

More than a third of all Americans who are connected to the Internet have used it to access religious and spiritual information, a recent Pew Research Center study shows. Moreover, there has been a significant increase in the daily use of the Internet to access religious information. This compares with 40 percent of American Internet users who have searched the web for political information, and 66 percent who have sought health and medical data. But, while the number of these last two search categories increased 57 percent and 59 percent respectively between March 2000 and November 2002, what researchers call "religion surfers" almost doubled in number over the same period, from 18 million to 35 million -- an increase of 94 percent. The growth appears to be only slightly linked to the September 11, 2001, attack on the United States. An earlier Pew poll accounted for the "bounce," or heavy upturn in religious interest following the attack. The most recent research found that not only has the interest in religion held since September 11, but it increased 25 percent during the subsequent 15 months. The poll found Internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 to be the least interested in searching out religious material (24 percent), while those age 30-49 were the most interested (33 percent).

Uzbekistan Church Shut Down for Ministering to Children
Eric Tiansay, Charisma News Service

Authorities in the Khorezm region recently closed a church because the congregation had been working with children. The Urgench Evangelical-Christian Baptist Church was shut down after authorities claimed that the work took place without parental consent, Forum 18 News Service reported. But parents reportedly had given their consent. However, the secret police pressured them into denying the approval. "It's true that some parents made statements saying that their children had come to summer camp without their permission, but they did this under pressure from the secret police, and then these same parents came to see us in church and asked our forgiveness," pastor Oleg Bader told Forum 18. Uzbekistan's law on religion forbids "the enticement of underage children into religious organizations ... against their or their parents' will." Bader said their work with children was included in the church's statute, which was registered on December 1999. He believes authorities have been looking for an excuse to remove the church's registered status. With the closure of Urgench Baptist, the only other church in the region is the Protestant Korean Church, Forum 18 reported. (

Global Day Of Prayer For Burma To Be Observed In Taiwan And London
Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

Christian Monitor (CM), a daily online monitor of Christian persecution around the world, will be observing the Global Day of Prayer for Burma (which is on Sunday, March 14) by hosting a series of prayer meetings in Taiwan during the third week of March. The prayer meetings, which will be held in private homes, are aimed at highlighting the destitution and suffering of the people of Burma and through prayer, interceding on their behalf. The Global Day of Prayer for Burma is a powerful Christian response to the plight and widespread suffering of the people of Burma who have, since 1962, been forced to live under a military dictatorship that systematically persecutes its own people. A litany of well documented human rights violations that include forced labor, religious persecution, human trafficking, torture, extra judicial executions, forced relocations and widespread rape stand as indictments against both the Burmese military and the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). A CM spokesman said, "The continued shameful atrocities committed by the Burmese ruling authority against their own people must be brought into the light and the veil of oppression that sits over Burma lifted." Christians from all over the United Kingdom will be meeting in London on March 13 to pray for democracy, freedom, peace and justice in Burma, organized by Christian Solidarity Worldwide. (