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Religion Today Summaries - March 15, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 15, 2006

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

  • Three Church Groups Legalized in Vietnamese City
  • Men are Leaving Churches in Record Numbers
  • Pastor Freed from Prison in Belarus, but Another to Be Jailed?
  • More Evangelicals Say Go See The Da Vinci Code

Three Church Groups Legalized in Vietnamese City

A Compass Direct release indicates that the city government of Ho Chi Minh City has granted longstanding requests of three church organizations to legally function in Ho Chi Minh City. The city Bureau of Religious Affairs last week granted a request for registration to a faction of the Vietnam Mennonite Church led by the Rev. Nguyen Quang Trung, the small Grace Baptist church led by the Rev. Le Quoc Chanh, and one grouping of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Vietnam. House church leaders in Vietnam noted that all three of the church organizations represent only a part of their church traditions in Vietnam. Sources said the government chose the smaller, more compliant Mennonite faction led by the Rev. Nguyen Quang Trung over the larger one led by activist Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang. Cautious official approval excludes factions within Christian denominations.

Men are Leaving Churches in Record Numbers

Statistically more men are unchurched than women, and a Family News in Focus story suggests that the discrepancy is growing due to many churches gearing their culture and messages towards women. One church in Peoria, Illinois is trying to find ways to attract men to their church, such as using the term "Head Coach" rather than "Pastor." The Grove challenges men to raise the bar on their marriages, their work life, and their relationship with God. David Murrow, author of “Why Men Hate Going to Church," said, “There’s a reputation among men that church is something for women, weirdoes and wimps. It’s not something a real manly-man would do. You walk into the typical church of a hundred, hundred and fifty people, and you’re going to find soft cushiony pews, fresh flowers on the alter, a lace doily on the Communion Table, quilted banners on the walls.” But it’s more than the ambiance that has men staying home. “Guys are all about mission, they’re about adventure they’re about challenge, and the more you can turn the church culture toward those things, the more you’re going to interest the guys.” The Grove is finding that women will come along to a place where the men feel comfortable, too.

Pastor Freed from Prison in Belarus, but Another to Be Jailed?

Pastor Georgi Vyazovsky of Christ's Covenant Reformed Baptist Church in Belarus was freed from a Minsk prison for Administrative Violations Code offenders shortly after midday local time today (13 March) on completion of a ten-day sentence for conducting religious worship in his own home. Shortly after his release, Pastor Vyazovsky told Geraldine Fagan of Forum 18 News Service (www.Forum18.org) he felt "splendid" and even joked that he had lost weight due to the "good diet." Held in cells with five and then 13 other inmates, he also said that both they and the warders were "amazed" that he was there for religious activity: "They'd never had such a case before -- one of the staff remarked that the judge must have gone crazy." To Forum 18's knowledge, Pastor Vyazovsky is the first person to have been imprisoned for religious worship on the territory of Belarus for some 20 years. However, at least one further prosecution appears imminent.

More Evangelicals Say Go See The Da Vinci Code

According to a story in The Christian Post, evangelicals are coming out left and right with what Lee Strobel calls a "mini-industry of books" debunking Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. While the film adaptation stirred protests among Catholics and Protestants alike, more Christians are encouraging people to go watch the movie. Internationally known speaker and author Josh McDowell will be releasing his book, The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers, for Christians to use as a witnessing resource. In the same way, best-selling author Dr. James L. Garlow saw the upcoming film release, which is scheduled for May 19, as an evangelical opportunity with his own written tool, The DaVinci Codebreaker, to be released early April. With Brown's repeated statements on his book being "fact" and media buzz that has yet to die down, Garlow, co-author of Cracking Da Vinci's Code, saw a crucial need for a glossary. Garlow, much like other Evangelicals, suggests Christians, armed with the facts, see the film with friends, churched and unchurched, rather than boycotting or protesting. Strobel, meanwhile, views The Da Vinci Code as "an incredible opportunity" as opposed to any kind of serious challenge to Christianity.