Religion Today Summaries, March 23, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, March 23, 2004

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

  • Chinese Authorities Release House Church Leader Due to International Pressure 
  • Shocked Mom Wants Pro-Homosexual Children's Books Outed, Ousted
  • Ministry Eyes 'Harvest Fields' of Pro Tennis Tournaments 
  • Upcoming Prayer Breakfast Honors Israel, Holocaust Survivors

Chinese Authorities Release House Church Leader Due to International Pressure
Charisma News Service

Apparently succumbing to international pressure, authorities recently released a prominent house church leader. According to China Aid Association (CAA), Xu "Deborah" Yongling, 58, was released last Monday and is under house arrest for an indefinite period of time. CAA said U.S. State Department officials raised her case to the Chinese government recently. The leader of the "Born Again Movement" church, which has millions of members throughout the Asian nation, Yongling was asleep at the home of a church member in Nanyang, when police raided and detained her on Jan. 25. Yongling has been arrested many times in the past.  "This [is] another case of religious persecution with baseless charges," said CAA president Bob Fu.

Shocked Mom Wants Pro-Homosexual Children's Books Outed, Ousted
Jim Brown, Agape Press

Christian parents in Wilmington, North Carolina, are fighting to get a controversial book banned from their first-grade daughter's school library. Tonya Hartsell says she was "shocked" and in tears after learning that her daughter Olivia had unknowingly checked out a book promoting homosexual marriage. The library book from Freeman Elementary School is called King and King and features two princes marrying each other and sharing a kiss. Hartsell said she and her husband had no choice but to explain to seven-year-old Olivia why the lifestyle glorified in the book is inappropriate, referring to scripture in an effort to help the young child understand. However, when the concerned parents confronted the head of their daughter's school and the librarian who selected King and King for its collection, Mrs. Hartsell says both principal and librarian saw nothing wrong with the book and defended it as a way to promote "diversity." This attitude caused the Hartsells further concern. Mrs. Hartsell says they may transfer Olivia to a nearby Christian academy if the offensive book, along with any more like it, is not removed. The parents plan to return King and King to Freeman Elementary today, along with complaint papers designed to start the process of getting the book reviewed and hopefully removed from the school's library. Mrs. Hartsell says other parents have indicated they share her family's concerns and will file grievances as well.

Ministry Eyes 'Harvest Fields' of Pro Tennis Tournaments
Charisma News Service

A small sports ministry hopes to serve up the gospel this week during the second largest tennis tournament in the country. Scotty Paschal, founder of the International Christian Tennis Association (ICTA), said his 11-member "short-term missions team," featuring tennis players and their families, coaches and volunteers, will seek to share Jesus at the NASDAQ-100 Open tennis tournament, which begins tomorrow and runs through April 4 in Miami. Approximately 270,000 people are expected for the event, which features the top tennis players in the world. Paschal, a longtime tennis coach and instructor, said that he has a booth at the tournament site. "We have many tracts, Bibles and videos to hand out," Paschal said. "The main core of what we will do is share the gospel. We won't be chasing people with Bibles or anything. We will provide a source for people to come to with any questions they have about Christianity and we have Bible studies planned for the players." Paschal formally launched ICTA in September after he walked away from a job as the general manager of a local tennis club. "I resigned in August while attending the U.S. Open because I had placed the tennis club ahead of my calling that God had placed within me," explained Paschal.

Upcoming Prayer Breakfast Honors Israel, Holocaust Survivors
Chad Groening, Agape Press

Embattled former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and a survivor of the Nazi death camps will be among the featured speakers at the upcoming annual International Christian Prayer Breakfast in Honor of Israel. This 23rd annual international prayer breakfast will take place May 11 in Memphis. It is being organized by Bill McAteer, the founder and president of the Religious Roundtable. He says the event has three main purposes, which are to "honor Israel, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and to allow Bible-believing Christians to express their unconditional love for God's ancient people." And McAteer says the prayer breakfast will also recognize Mrs. Nina Katz, a Holocaust survivor who spent several years of her young life in Nazi concentration camps. In a sense, Katz will be representing not only herself, but also all the other survivors, as well as the deceased victims of that period. "We honor the Holocaust survivors," McAteer says, noting that this is among the foremost reasons for the annual gathering. As believers gather to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, he hopes the event will help them understand the importance of expressing their love for the Jewish people individually and as a nation. McAteer says Christians need to remember Psalm 122:6, which says of Israel, "They that love her shall prosper."