Religion Today Summaries - May 19, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 19, 2005

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

  • Global Day Of Prayer Unites Nations 

  • Court Order Blocking Implementation of Pro-Homosexual Sex-Ed Curriculum Extended

  • Vietnam: Persecution amid Government Reforms

  • India: Young Woman Kidnapped For Her Christian Activities

Global Day Of Prayer Unites Nations
Baptist Press

More than 12,000 people gathered in Dallas' Reunion Arena May 15 as part of the Global Day of Prayer, aimed at uniting believers on four continents across racial, social and denominational lines. Former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in nearby Plano joined T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, in leading the North American portion of the worldwide event. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas were among additional leaders who gathered to lead in prayer. The Global Day of Prayer began in Africa five years ago and spread across the globe. This year marked the first U.S.-based participation in the event, as some 150 sites in 37 states and one overseas military post took part. More than 70 gatherings similar to the Dallas event were held throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. Graham told The Dallas Morning News he hoped the event would renew an effort to bring people together for worship despite their differences. Following the prayer gathering, Christians across the world are expected to express Christ's love through compassion projects in their respective cities, according to event organizers.

Court Order Blocking Implementation Of Pro-Homosexual Sex-Education Curriculum Extended
Agape Press

A court order blocking implementation of pro-homosexual sex-education curriculum in Maryland has been extended.  Earlier this month, a federal judge in Montgomery County, Maryland, issued a temporary restraining order barring implementation of a sex-ed program that opposing groups describe as inaccurate and hostile to Christian views.  The county board of education has now agreed to extend that temporary restraining order to December 31, 2005. Liberty Counsel, which filed the lawsuit against the curriculum and sought the temporary restraining order on behalf of the groups Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, is pleased with the extension.  "[This] will give the district time to explore possible resolution of this case or will give the groups time to push the case forward to a resolution in court," explains Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel.  "Make no mistake -- the curriculum contains serious constitutional violations that will require substantial revisions to correct.  The district must be willing to undertake these revisions to protect the constitutional rights involved."  Staver earlier accused the school board of demonstrating "allegiance to the agenda of homosexual advocacy groups" by agreeing in the first place to allow the sex-ed program to be taught.  

Vietnam: Persecution amid Government Reforms
Christian Aid Mission

Though much-publicized government steps towards religious freedom have been taken recently, including allowing some churches to construct buildings and releasing certain "prisoners of conscience," reports from Christian Aid's contacts in Vietnam indicate persecution continues. One native mission leader told Christian Aid that he believes recent government actions are calculated to appease international watchdogs while simultaneously increasing control of churches. He says that in "allowing" Christians to meet together in church buildings, authorities are not allowing them to gather anywhere else. Those caught meeting in one of the country's over 1000 house churches can be arrested. The buildings in which Christians can officially meet are few and far between, making it easier for government officials to supervise all church activities. Also, according to one of Christian Aid's contacts, the location of churches was deliberately planned to decrease attendance. "If 11 churches are in a district," he says of a typical scenario, "they leave one open in a remote area, close the rest of the churches and tell everyone they must go to the open one. Then they say that they have an open church."

India: Young Woman Kidnapped For Her Christian Activities
Charisma News Service

A young woman who converted from Islam to Christianity was recently kidnapped for her Christian activities. According to an urgent prayer alert by Asia Harvest, Nargis, a resident of Kashmir, the northernmost state in India, has been involved in several ministries, including translation work to produce children's Bible stories. Nargis, who is among hundreds of Asian evangelists supported by Asia Harvest, is part of a Christian group in Kashmir led by Paul. "They are trying to locate her," Asia Harvest's Paul Hattaway said in an e-mail to supporters last week. "The team is very tense. Kindly pray for them. Satan has been trying to disrupt [their] work. Paul, whose preaching and lifestyle has been much used by the Lord among the tiny communities of believers, has also received some threats." (