Religion Today Summaries, May 17, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, May 17, 2004

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

  • Turkey: Pastor Acquitted Of Criminal Charges
  • Conference Encourages Citizens to Consider Godly Values at the Polls
  • Nepalese Pastor Inspired By Witnessing Miracles at Revival Crusade in Korea
  • Jewish Ad Campaign Shows Muslim Nations Denying Existence of Israel

Turkey: Pastor Acquitted Of Criminal Charges
Compass Direct

In what the Hurriyet newspaper called a “jet acquittal,” a criminal court in southeastern Turkey dropped all charges yesterday against a Protestant pastor accused of opening an “illegal” church. Pastor Ahmet Guvener was fully acquitted in the opening hearing of his case before Diyarbakir’s Third Criminal Court. The quick resolution of the case surprised both Guvener and his lawyer, Abdul Kadir Pekdemir, who said a criminal case typically extends for a year or more before a verdict is issued. But when Judge Necla Ipek asked State Prosecutor Vahdettin Taskiran to present the government’s case against Guvener, Taskiran declared that no sufficient grounds existed to bring charges. Instead, Taskiran stressed that under recent reforms passed in Parliament, international agreements now take precedence over national laws, granting Turkish citizens the right both individually and in community to conduct worship, as well as to teach and propagate their faith. Moments later, Ipek declared Guvener acquitted and the case closed. “It’s a great step forward for Turkey,” Guvener told Compass afterward, “for Christians here, for religious freedom, for democracy.”

Conference Encourages Citizens to Consider Godly Values at the Polls
Agape Press

A conference of church leaders has been challenged about encouraging their people to think of godly values when they vote.  More than 300 pastors representing about 40 states met in Washington this week at the event sponsored by the Family Research Council.  FRC president Tony Perkins said those pastors heard from congressional leaders on the issues of the day and from national spokesmen on issues as they relate to the family and to faith.  The pastors were challenged to lead their congregations toward becoming involved by voting based on the values taught in God's Holy Word.  Perkins says the pastors' leadership is needed because the issues facing the nation are spiritual in nature.  "Not only do we have to work on the political front, but we've got to work on the spiritual front in educating Christians around the country that these are issues that they just can't take a pass on," Perkins states.  Christians are notorious for not voting on a regular basis, and the FRC head says that needs to change if the nation's heart is going to change.  The theme of the pastor's conference was "Watchmen on the Wall."

Nepalese Pastor Inspired By Witnessing Miracles at Revival Crusade in Korea
Dan and Peter Wooding, ASSIST News Service

Many attendees became Christians and received God’s healing during the two week revival crusade that concluded at the 80,000 member Manmin Church in Seoul, Korea last week. However, the event also served as an inspiration to pastors attending from around the world. During an interview at the World Christian Leaders Fellowship during the crusade, Hem Sharma, pastor of the Believer’s Church in Nepal said, “I really enjoyed attending the meetings and witnessing the wonderful things God has been doing, with so many people being healed, even a crippled could walk…They were very much a blessing and inspiring, so it’s been very fruitful…I can see so many faces from overseas, so it is a great privilege, just to know each other and to have fellowship together.” Pastor Sharma then explained more about his ministry in Nepal: “We’re involved in evangelism, and church planting,” he said. “We also have another wing of producing literature, with gospel tracts, and books. We believe literature is one of the best ways to reach the people of Nepal.” Pastor Sharma is asking people around the world to pray for their ministry in Nepal: “We’re facing some challenges from government who won’t allow us to broadcast directly from Nepal, but only from Russia and Sri Lanka,” he said.

Jewish Ad Campaign Shows Muslim Nations Denying Existence of Israel
Agape Press

A Jewish organization has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for newspaper ads that show maps produced in Muslim countries that don't show the nation of Israel.  The ads, which have appeared in major newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and USA Today, were bankrolled by the New York-based American Jewish Committee.  Executive director David Harris says his group wanted to make people aware of what Middle Eastern schoolchildren are being taught.  "The maps in the ads include three from schoolbooks, which means that future generations of Palestinians, Saudis, and Syrians, among others, are being taught that Israel does not exist and, therefore, does not have a right to exist," Harris explains.  "Even though it was the United Nations that endorsed Israel's creation, [Muslim nations have] never accepted it in 1947, they still have not come to terms with it, and many still openly call for Israel's elimination."  Harris says he wonders just how a nation can make peace with other nations that do not even recognize its very right to exist.