Religion Today Summaries - March 3, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 3, 2005

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

  • America's Blessings Depend On Christian Obedience, Land Says 

  • World Anglican Leaders Take Biblical Stand on Homosexual Issues

  • Arab Countries: Missionary Couple Faces Discrimination 

  • India: 280 Christian students robbed by Hindu Activists

America's Blessings Depend On Christian Obedience, Land Says
Stephanie Carter, Baptist Press

The key to God's blessing of America is the obedience of Christians to His teachings, Richard Land told a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel audience Feb. 23. Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, spoke from 2 Chronicles 7:14, recounted the conditions God has placed on Christians in America so that the country may receive His blessings. "God is not going to bless a people who continually disregard His teachings," said Land, who has represented Southern Baptists' interests the nation's capital, and in the larger cultural milieu, since 1988 and recently was featured in Time magazine as one of the nation's 25 most influential evangelicals. The 2 Chronicles theme is a familiar one for Land, and is the blueprint for achieving God's blessing of America, according to his latest book, "Real Homeland Security: The America God Will Bless." The book seeks to convey how to view and interact with the events of the world in a way that invokes God's blessings. Christians cannot pull out from the world, Land told the Wake Forest, N.C., seminarians. Land added that the responsibility of seeking the blessings of God does not fall to the world but to born-again believers who are willing to humble themselves, pray, and seek after God.

World Anglican Leaders Take Biblical Stand on Homosexual Issues
Jim Brown, AgapePress

Leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion say they want the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) and the Anglican Church of Canada to withdraw from the communion's councils temporarily and explain their attitudes toward homosexuals. The U.S. church precipitated what many see as the most serious rift in the Communion's history when it affirmed the election of Vicki Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. The openly homosexual Robinson left his wife in the 1980s and currently lives with a male partner. Both the U.S. and Canadian churches have been criticized by conservatives for sanctioning the blessing of same-sex unions. It is an issue that has caused deep division within the global Anglican Church. The statement from the Anglican Primates demanding a clarification of the churches' attitudes was issued following a retreat in Northern Ireland. Pittsburgh's Bishop Bob Duncan, who heads the Anglican Communion Network, believes Western attempts to reinterpret the Primates' statement indicate a deep split -- a split with implications much broader than the suspension of the North American churches. In addition to asking the Canadian Anglican Church and the ECUSA to withdraw and explain themselves, the Anglican Primates are calling for a moratorium on public rites of blessing for same-sex unions as well as on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside traditional Christian marriage.

Arab Countries: Missionary Couple Faces Discrimination
Christian Aid

In much of the Arab world, changing one's religion, particularly if that religion is Islam, presents many problems and, in some cases, dangers. Such is the case with a native missionary couple known to Christian Aid. "Abu," from a Christian background, was engaged to "Rania," a Christian from a Muslim background, three years ago. However, in their respective countries it is illegal for two people from different religious backgrounds to marry, especially if one has changed religions. The couple was forced to marry in Lebanon, where such marriages are allowed. Yet their home countries, including the one in which they are currently ministering, refuse to acknowledge the marriage as legitimate unless it is officially registered with the government. The couple is loath to do that since registering a "cross-religious" marriage would open them to increased persecution and prejudice. A grave worry of the couple's is that, in their current situation, they cannot "legally" have children. Without the problematic official marriage certificate, any children they have will be considered illegitimate and denied birth certificates. They would also be officially designated Muslims.  If they were granted asylum abroad, they could not return to their country to do missionary work. They have not sought religious asylum. This couple is only one example of believers in Arab lands who have sacrificed much to serve Christ.

India: 280 Christian students robbed by Hindu Activists
Charisma News Service

Hindu activists recently beat and robbed a group of 280 Christian students. On Feb. 19, the group was on its way to Emmanuel Mission's graduation ceremony in Kota, Rajasthan State, when they were attacked at 2:30 a.m. as the travelers disembarked from a train, Compass Direct reported. Several victims sustained serious injuries. The attackers also damaged mission buses sent to receive the visitors. Afterward, local police rounded up the students and kept them in custody at a local police station until the following evening. Alleging that Emmanuel Mission had lured the visiting students to Kota with promises of a bicycle and some money in exchange for converting to Christianity, police officials forced the students to return home. No Hindus militants were arrested. Emmanuel Mission has worked in Kota for several years and is recognized for its services throughout India. The Indian government awarded one of the highest honors in the country to mission director Bishop M.A. Thomas. Since the late 1990s, Hindu organizations have stepped up their campaign against the mission. Their aggression gained momentum after the Bharatiya Janata Party took over political power in the state. Emmanuel Mission organizes its five-day graduation ceremony every year in February. Attended by students from the 98 mission centers all over India, the event draws 5,000 people to Emmanuel headquarters in Kota as students collect their diplomas after completing their education. (