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Religion Today Summaries - May 17, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff | Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Religion Today Summaries - May 17, 2006

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

  • Pope Challenges Islam on Religious Freedom
  • Hope Rwanda Reaches Hundres of Thousands Already
  • House OKs Military Prayers in Jesus’ Name
  • Evangelicals Re-thinking “Contraceptive Mentality”

Pope Challenges Islam on Religious Freedom

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday challenged Muslim leaders on religious freedom in Islamic countries and insisted that interreligious dialogue must be based on "reciprocity" and mutual respect. CathNews cites a Catholic World News report that Pope Benedict XVI said the Church has "a growing awareness that interreligious dialogue is part of her commitment to serve mankind in the modern world." However, the faithful "are not renouncing" their commitment to spread the Gospel by entering into said discussions, the Pope said. Rather, they are hoping to overcome animosity. In an era of unprecedented migration, when believers of different faiths find themselves living in unfamiliar cultures, "Christians must open their hearts especially to the poorest and neediest. Obviously, we would hope that Christians who emigrate to countries with Muslim majorities will find a welcome there, and respect for their religious identity."

Hope Rwanda Reaches Hundres of Thousands Already

Now in its third week, Hope Rwanda: 100 Days of Hope is already seeing tremendous success. Tens of thousands of lives have been changed as Rwandans see the love of God lived out – by Americans, Australians, British, New Zealanders, and fellow Rwandans – in practical ways around the country, during this twelfth anniversary of the tragic 1994 genocide that swept the small African country. The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, officially launched Hope Rwanda: 100 Days of Hope at an official function with over 800 dignitaries and guests in Kigali on 15 April. Leading the child and youth effort for the Hope Rwanda effort, Florida-based Book of Hope is coordinating the distribution of over 2 million books to each child in Rwanda. “They have already distributed a quarter of a million books,” said Hope Rwanda Project Coordinator, John Fergusson. This week, Book of Hope brought in the first Impact Team from Church of the Harvest in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Team members spent ten days in the province of Butare, visiting schools in some of the farthest, most difficult-to-reach areas of Rwanda, where they met with students, conducted school assemblies, shared the love and healing spirit of Jesus, and distributed over 14,000 Book of Hope Scripture books to every student.

House OKs Military Prayers in Jesus’ Name

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a measure that would permit military chaplains to pray in Jesus’ name at public events, Baptist Press reports. The provision was added to a $513 billion Department of Defense authorization bill, which the House passed. The Senate will still have to approve the language, which says: “Each chaplain shall have the prerogative to pray according to the dictates of the chaplain's own conscience, except as must be limited by military necessity, with any such limitation being imposed in the least restrictive manner feasible.” Many former and current chaplains have complained about limitations on praying in Jesus’ name. After the Air Force issued its initial, interim guidelines in August, 70 representatives and two senators in October asked President Bush for an executive order protecting the religious freedom of chaplains, including the right to pray in Jesus’ name.

Evangelicals Re-thinking “Contraceptive Mentality”

Birth control has had a deeply negative impact on human sexuality, and has separated sex from procreation, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said in the cover story of New York Times Magazine. Baptist Press reports that the article examines a growing debate among evangelicals regarding reproductive technologies. About the birth control pill, Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says, "I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a greater impact on human beings... Prior to it, every time a couple had sex, there was a good chance of pregnancy. Once that is removed, the entire horizon of the sexual act changes... The pill gave incredible license to everything from adultery and affairs to premarital sex and - within marriage - to a separation of the sex act and procreation." Evangelicals have recently become far more critical of the pill and more thoughtful regarding birth control as they have witnessed the effects of society's “contraceptive mentality.” "It's one of the things that may serve to divide evangelicalism,” Mohler said.