Religion Today Summaries - March 31, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 31, 2010

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

  • Pro-Democracy Advocate in Vietnam Released from Prison
  • Quarter of Immigrant Groups in U.S. Remain Unreached
  • Britain: Christian Nurse Heads to Court over Cross Necklace
  • S.C. Episcopal Diocese Declares Itself 'Sovereign'

Pro-Democracy Advocate in Vietnam Released from Prison

Compass Direct News reports that a Christian prisoner of conscience was released earlier this month in Vietnam. Attorney Le Thi Cong Nhan served a three-year sentence for "propagandizing to destroy the Socialist Republic of Vietnam." Now serving an additional three-year house arrest sentence, Cong Nhan said in a surprisingly frank interview with Voice of America's Vietnamese language broadcast on March 9 that she has no intention of giving up her struggle for a just and free Vietnam and accepts that there may be a further price to pay. While in prison, she twice went on a hunger strike when authorities took her Bible away from her. Christian leaders in the country were also heartened by a recent legal visit by American evangelist Luis Palau, who addressed more than 400 pastors in Ho Chi Minh City. "There is still a long way to go, but we are seeing miracles piling up," said one senior Vietnamese leader.

Quarter of Immigrant Groups in U.S. Remain Unreached

The Christian Post reports that many immigrant groups in the U.S. are being neglected in evangelism efforts, despite their swelling numbers. About 25 percent of immigrant groups in the U.S. see no outreach. Another 26 percent receive the attention of only one or two organizations nationwide. The U.S. receives immigrants 202 countries worldwide. "Things are changing in the U.S. and Canada," said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, in a report released Friday. "By 2050, there will be no majority race or ethnicity in the United States." He continued, "The nations of the world are living right here, yet many are not hearing the gospel in an intentional, organized way. We can do better." Immigrants from Mexico, South Korea, Cuba and China are the most reached within the U.S., with increasing efforts focused on people from Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Britain: Christian Nurse Heads to Court over Cross Necklace

Christian Today reports that a nurse who was barred from wearing who cross necklace on the job takes her case to court this week. Shirley Chaplin, who says she has worn the cross for almost 40 years, was told by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust that she must hide the cross during her shifts or face dismissal. Chaplin, 54, argues that her cross should receive the same exemption that Muslim women with headscarves receive in the workplace. At least seven Church of England bishops have publically spoken in her favor. "This is yet another case in which the religious rights of the Christian community are being treated with disrespect," they wrote in a letter to The Sunday Telegraph. "We are deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians and we call on the Government to remedy this serious development."

S.C. Episcopal Diocese Declares Itself 'Sovereign'

Religion News Service reports that a South Carolina diocese has declared itself "sovereign" within the Episcopal Church, the latest salvo in a long-running skirmish between the conservative diocese and the denomination. The Diocese of South Carolina, which covers 47 parishes in the eastern and coastal parts of the state, voted on Friday (March 26) to assert the local authority of Bishop Mark Lawrence, particularly in dealing with breakaway parishes. The four resolutions follow the Episcopal Church's decision to hire its own lawyer to deal with breakaway church property disputes, which the national church felt Lawrence might not fight to keep. The resolutions aim to put Lawrence in charge of the situation and allow him to provide a "generous pastoral response" to dissident parishes. Addressing the diocese on Friday, Lawrence said he and Episcopal head Katharine Jefferts Schori "stand looking at one another across a wide, deep and seemingly unbridgeable theological and canonical chasm."