Religion Today Summaries -- March 31, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries -- March 31, 2004

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

  • Creationist Says NASA's All Wet, Mars Never Inhabited
  • Protestant Leaders Call on Muslims to Denounce Suicide Attacks
  • Chinese Prisoner Crippled for Sharing Christ
  • Suspect Arrested for Murder of American Missionaries in Uganda

Creationist Says NASA's All Wet, Mars Never Inhabited
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A former evolutionist who is now a biblical creationist says the recent discovery that water once covered part of Mars does not prove that life once existed on the red planet. Recently scientists of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have displayed photographs from two unmanned crafts exploring Mars. Some of these images show, according to the scientists, that water once covered part of the planet. NASA's scientists say that discovery proves that life could very well have existed on Mars. But Dr. Grady McMurtry, president of Creation Worldview Ministries, says the discovery that water once existed on Mars is not surprising. "If you think about it, in Genesis, chapter one, verse two, the Earth is created with water on the surface. There's no reason to believe that Mars would not have been created by God in the same basic process," he says. The creationist asserts that scripture absolutely negates the idea of extra-terrestrial intelligent life. He says, "In the New Testament, of course, it says that Jesus Christ came here, and died once for all. Now, God is the only one that can use the word 'all' and mean it, so there are not people who can be redeemed anyplace else. There are not other life-forms someplace [that are] like us."

Protestant Leaders Call on Muslims to Denounce Suicide Attacks
Wolfgang Polzer, ASSIST News Service

German Protestant leaders have called on Muslims and their religious organizations to denounce all suicide bombings and their religious legitimization. The council of the main line Protestant Churches in Germany, representing 25.6 million church members, also issued a call to outlaw both Palestinian acts of terrorism and extra judicial killings by Israeli security forces. At their monthly meeting in Hanover the 15 council members deplored the latest escalation of violence in the Holy Land, which had reached almost unimaginable proportions. "Palestinian terrorist even have the nerve to recruit children for suicide attacks by making deceptive religious promises." At the same time Israel assassinates militant adversaries in the name of self-defense. This vicious circle of violence further reduces any hope of a peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians, says the council. "The situation in Israel and Palestine is desperate", declares the council. The Protestant leaders urge Christians to continue in their fervent intercession for the Holy Land. "We believe, even against all appearances, that God has the whole world in His hands and that He can transform human hearts."

Chinese Prisoner Crippled for Sharing Christ
Agape Press

Chen Jingmao, a 72-year-old church leader in South China, was recently beaten and crippled in prison as punishment for leading 50 prison inmates to faith in Christ. Chen, who was arrested on July 2001, had been charged with using an "evil cult" to obstruct the law -- this, referring to his association with the South China Church. Among the crimes described in the official court proceedings were recruitment of "evil cult" members, organizing of "secret illegal religious gatherings," and distributing propaganda -- that is, a church magazine called Salvation and China. According to China Aid Association (CAA) sources, Chen's legs were broken when the prison guards beat him, and he has been so severely injured that he requires assistance in daily activities. A source told CAA that during Chen's beating, the guards remarked that his action of leading others to Christianity had "brought shame upon the Communist Party." Bob Fu, president of CAA, called the news "heartbreaking," and said Chen's sentence was unjust and his brutal beating "illegal, and inhumane, especially to a 72-year-old man."

Suspect Arrested for Murder of American Missionaries in Uganda
Eric Tiansay, Charisma News

Police have arrested a suspect in the recent killing of two American missionaries and a Ugandan student in the East African nation's northwestern region. Amin Aruma was detained March 20 about 10 miles from a Christian agricultural training center, where Warren Pett, his wife, Donna, and the student were killed two nights earlier, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The Petts, dairy farmers from Mukwonago, Wis., were shot when seven armed men wearing military uniforms raided the college near Yumbe, some 310 miles northwest of Kampala, where the couple taught. There has been no clear motive for the slaying of the missionaries who were both 49, the AP reported. About 90 percent of the area population is Muslim, and some were upset by the setting up of Christian schools in the region, police said. Yumbe District is a remote area near Uganda's border with Sudan. About 10 percent of Uganda's 24 million people are Muslims. Affiliated with Africa Inland Mission, the Petts had been in the African nation for more than a year and were teaching at the Esther Evangelical School of Technology, 15 miles east of Yumbe, the AP reported. (