Religion Today Summaries, March 19, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, March 19, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians
In Today's Edition:

  • Unregistered Baptist Church Homeless After Pressure from Russian Authorities
  • Columbian Christians Seek Peace in Former ‘Demilitarized Zone’
  • Commentary: North Carolina TV Station Takes Stand for Marriage
  • New Christian Best-Seller Lists Launched

Unregistered Baptist Church Homeless After Pressure from Russian Authorities

(VOM – USA) An unregistered Baptist congregation in Moscow is looking for a place to worship after authorities apparently pressured a public library to cancel its rental agreement. The Forum 18 News Service (F18News) reported that "pressure from above" was the only explanation given for the termination of the congregation's verbal rental agreement with the Ushinsky Library. The library informed the pastor that they could no longer use the premises and returned an advance rental payment. The closure was a major setback for the growing, 300-member Baptist community, which had been meeting in the library premises after opening hours for the last 6 years. The Baptists were expelled because, as an unregistered religious group, they do not have the status of a legal person according to a 1997 Russian law. Some human rights activists say the difficulties of Baptists and other denominations are linked to pressure on non-Orthodox groups, which have been gaining in strength, at the expense of Russia's old Orthodox Church.

Columbian Christians Seek Peace in Former ‘Demilitarized Zone’

(Compass) February 20 marked one year since the breakdown of peace talks between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The anniversary also marked the expulsion of the FARC from a special “demilitarized zone” they had occupied in the southern department of Caquetá. Violent attacks against the civilian population have since increased, particularly in the area of San Vicente del Caguán, due to the collapse of public security as the army attempted to uproot FARC forces and reestablish government control. Insurgents have destroyed electric grids, telephone lines and major bridges, creating critical shortages of food, drinking water and medicines. Evangelical churches there are at risk. A local foundation, Christians for Peace, has documented the assassination of at least four pastors in recent months. In an open letter circulated in January, Alfredo Torres Pachón of Christians for Peace appealed to Colombian officials and the international community not to abandon San Vicente in this critical time of peace seeking. Despite church closings and martyred pastors, evangelical leaders estimate that churches in the zone grew by 30 percent during the FARC occupation.

Commentary: North Carolina TV Station Takes Stand for Marriage

(FRC) In reality, so-called "reality television" has very little to do with real life.  Most such prurient programming is a sort of national peep show that seduce the audience into a smarmy voyeurism.  One North Carolina TV station, however, WRAZ of Raleigh-Durham, has pulled the plug on the sludge. The Fox affiliate refuses to air the reality series "Married by America" because it demeans and exploits the institution of marriage.  After previewing the show, the station's management decided the program did not reflect prevailing standards of good taste.  The station also objected to the show's encouragement of cohabitation.  WRAZ made a courageous decision to pull the plug on this anti-marriage sleaze.  More local stations should do the same.  Pro-family Americans should call their local TV stations and urge them not to air such destructive, voyeuristic "entertainment."  Kudos to WRAZ.

New Christian Best-Seller Lists Launched
Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) The CBA, the international trade association of Christian retailers, and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association have launched almost two dozen new best-seller lists, shifting from book industry tradition. The new lists, which began in March, feature 21 categories such as biblical studies, romance fiction, relationships, parenting and devotionals. In addition, there will be an overall top 50 list, ranking top-selling books. "Consumers do not come into stores asking to see the latest best-selling hardcover or paperback book," said Bill Anderson, president of CBA, in a statement. "They ask for books on marriage, or Bible study helps or books for spiritual growth."     The new lists, compiled by using STATS -- Sales Tracking Analysis Trends Summary -- data, will focus primarily on topical category rather than book format. The charts will be based on sales in more than 900 Christian retail stores nationwide. Kelly Gallagher, vice president of ECPA, said he hopes the top 50 list will "provide greater national exposure to what is really catching on in the marketplace." The sponsoring organizations of the new lists intend to syndicate them through a variety of outlets, including magazines, newspapers and Web sites.