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Religion Today Summaries - May 15, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 15, 2006

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

  • Clergy, Laity Differ on Church Spending Priorities
  • International Christian Concern Calls for World Trade Organization Boycott of Vietnam
  • Christian Faith Inspires Work of Democratic Congressman
  • Woman Accuses Family of Attempted Forced Conversion in India

Clergy, Laity Differ on Church Spending Priorities

Protestant ministers and churchgoers were asked what they would do with an unexpected financial windfall in a new research study, The Christian Post reports. Results showed unmatched top priorities between the clergy and the people in the pews when it comes to spending. Ellison Research took national samples of Protestant church ministers and lay people. The ministers surveyed were found to prioritize building, expanding or updating their church buildings and facilities as their top spending choice. 31% of clergy, but only 17% of churchgoers, agreed with making facilities their top funding priority. Laity instead placed their first priorities on paying off debt and increasing social programs such as helping with homelessness or education. Updating facilities fell third on their list.

International Christian Concern Calls for WTO Boycott of Vietnam

ASSIST News Service reports that the human rights group International Christian Concern (ICC) is calling for a boycott of Vietnam in the World Trade Organization (WTO) following the death of another Vietnamese Christian in a Vietnamese prison. ICC says Siu Lul, who succumbed to the effects of food and water deprivation and torture, was 62 years old. He had been held at the Ha Nam Prison facility since 2004, where he experienced inhumane treatment by the prison authorities.ICC states there are still over 350 Montagnard Christian prisoners of conscience who remain imprisoned in Vietnam’s brutal prison system. Vietnam's treatment of its Christians is the reason they remain on the State Department’s Country of Particular Concern (CPC) list. Vietnam is also currently seeking entry into the WTO. As a result of Vietnam's continued massive human rights abuses towards Christians, ICC is calling for a boycott of Vietnam from the WTO.

Christian Faith Inspires Work of Democratic Congressman

On Tuesday, May 16, Members of Congress and their staff will join the Center for Christian Statesmanship in honoring Representative Mike McIntyre (D-NC) as the 2006 Distinguished Christian Statesman. What is a Christian Statesman? The Center’s Executive Director George Roller says that such people are those whose faith and commitment to Christ and love of country compel them to stand for truth and righteousness in government and to uphold principles that will exalt rather than debase the nation. “Such people acknowledge that their positions are sacred trusts and realize their personal dependence upon God, recognizing that an account must be given to Him for their public and private conduct while in government service,” said Roller. “We have a rich legacy of Christian statesmen in America,” added Roller, “great leaders, including Patrick Henry, George Washington, John Jay, John Adams, and Abraham Lincoln.  These names ring with a distinguishable presence attainable by those who hold great faith in the God of the Bible. We rank Rep. McIntyre among those whose character and integrity are proclaimed louder by their lives than by their words.” McIntyre commented: “If all of the people with the right motives stay out of government, who is left to run it?”

Woman Accuses Family of Attempted Forced Conversion in India

A woman in the city of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh state, has accused six of her uncles and their pastor of trying to forcefully convert her to Christianity, Compass Direct reports. The men involved said the accusations are an attempt to get revenge after a dispute erupted over a drainage channel. Saroj Maurya, 35, approached local newspapers with a statement accusing her uncles and Assemblies of God Pastor Mehboob Masih of attempted forced conversion. Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh told Masih he would meet the same fate as Australian missionary Graham Staines and two of his children, who were burned alive in Orissa state in January 1999, if he continued to hold prayer meetings. “They also said if I gathered people for prayer, they would instead hold a Hindu worship ceremony in my house,” said Masih.