Religion Today Summaries - March 4, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 4, 2005

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

  • High Court Places Ten Commandments Center Stage In Oral Arguments 

  • Research Indicates Teens' Faith Typically Just Skin-Deep

  • Study Finds 'Believers Do Not Train Their Children' With Faith in Mind

  • Benin: Conference in "Cradle of Voodoo" Draws Hundreds to Christ

High Court Places Ten Commandments Center Stage In Oral Arguments
Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The U.S. Supreme Court sparred March 2 with lawyers in two cases involving public displays of the Ten Commandments that center on the proper relationship between church and state. The justices heard oral arguments for two consecutive hours in the cases, which differed factually though both were about Ten Commandments displays on government property. During the first hour, representatives of both the state of Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice argued that a stand-alone monument on the state capitol grounds in Austin is constitutional. In the second hour, the DOJ joined religious liberty lawyer Mathew Staver in urging the high court to validate the inclusion of the Ten Commandments in a display of historical documents in two Kentucky county courthouses. The justices are expected to rule on both cases in either a consolidated opinion or separate decisions before they adjourn this summer. They listened to the arguments with the recognition that the Ten Commandments are displayed in thousands of government settings throughout the country, including inside and outside their own chamber, though the high court's sculptures do not include the English text.

Research Indicates Teens' Faith Typically Just Skin-Deep
Jim Brown and Jody Brown, AgapePress

A new survey finds a good number of American teens are religiously active, but not very well-educated in their faith -- resulting in a shallow religiosity. The four-year National Study of Youth and Religion was conducted by 133 researchers and consultants led by sociology professor Chris Smith of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  A third of the teenagers said they were consistently involved in religious organizations and practices.  Another third said they were "somewhat" involved.  However, Smith says that religiosity tends to be very shallow. "A lot of Christian teens really had not much at all to say about who Jesus was, what grace was," the researcher says.  Even though they said they believe in God and [that] faith is important, they have a hard time explaining what they believe and how faith makes any difference in their life." Smith describes many teens' religious knowledge as "meager, nebulous, and often fallacious."  Smith says teens are still being mightily influenced by the religious lives of the parents, so parents should be challenged to play a leadership role and feel authorized to be parents. Full results of the study can be found in Smith's new book titled "Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers". 

Study Finds 'Believers Do Not Train Their Children' With Faith in Mind
Charisma News Service

The faith commitment of born-again parents made surprisingly little difference in how their children were raised. That's the conclusion by The Barna Group (TBG) in its latest study, which looked at the outcomes parents are most eager to achieve in their children, the qualities they believe are most important for parents to have in order to be effective, and some of the critical choices and tradeoffs they make in their child-rearing efforts. Released Monday, the survey of 707 adults who are parents discovered that "having a significant faith commitment and an identifiable set of religious beliefs was mentioned by just one out of every five parents as an ingredient required for parental success." The most important outcomes parents are devoted to helping their children experience was getting a good education, with four out of every 10 parents (39 percent) listing that as their top priority. Helping the child to feel loved was the second most frequently mentioned outcome (24 percent), followed by enabling them to have a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ (22 percent). "Only three out of 10 born-again parents included the salvation of their child in the list of critical parental emphases," TBG president George Barna noted. "For that emphasis to not be on the radar screen of most Christian parents is a significant reason why most Americans never embrace Jesus Christ as their savior. (

Benin: Conference in "Cradle of Voodoo" Draws Hundreds to Christ
Christian Aid

The origins of voodoo can be traced back to the small West African country of Benin, giving it the nickname the "cradle of voodoo." Though the darkness of this heritage still hangs over the country, native missionaries are seeing the light of Christ break through in many ways. At a recent evangelistic conference held near the twin cities Bohicon and Abomey, 300 people gave their lives to Christ. The conference was especially significant considering its location: these cities, once the capital of a great tribal kingdom that lasted from the 1600s to the 1890s, were the hub of a grisly slave trade. Kings not only captured fellow Africans to sell to European and American traders; they also enslaved them themselves. In addition to this legacy of slavery, Bohicon and Abomey are significant to followers of voodoo as the seat of powerful divinities and as centers of magic. Because of this pride and confidence in voodoo powers, many Bohicon and Abomey residents are resistant to the gospel. Urged by such need, staff and students at the ministry's School of Missions prepared for eight months to hold evangelistic meetings in Bohicon and Abomey, drawing local pastors for training and discipleship and non-Christians to hear the gospel. Hundreds expressed faith in Christ.  Five hundred conference-goers expressed interest in a Bible correspondence course offered by the ministry.