Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 2, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 2, 2006

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

  • Nearly Half of Americans Uncertain God Exists

  • Converts in Turkey Charged under Speech Law

  • Christian Villagers Forced to Worship Hindu Deities in India

  • Turkish Cleric: Criticizing Islam Threatens Peace

Nearly Half of Americans Uncertain God Exists

According to web site, nearly half of Americans are not sure God exists. A recent poll also found divisions among the public on whether God is male or female or whether God has a human form and has control over events. The survey conducted by Harris Poll found that 42 percent of US adults are not "absolutely certain" there is a God compared to 34 percent who felt that way when asked the same question three years ago. Among the various religious groups, 76 percent of Protestants, 64 percent of Catholics and 30 percent of Jews said they are "absolutely certain" there is a God while 93 percent of Christians who describe themselves as "Born Again" feel certain God exists. When questioned on whether God is male or female, 36 percent of respondents said they think God is male, 37 percent said neither male nor female and 10 percent said "both male and female." Only one percent think of God as a female.

Vietnamese Churches Learn of Registrations Indirectly

Compass Direct News reports Vietnamese authorities advised the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi that 18 Vietnamese churches had been registered while not informing the churches themselves. Observers believe this is an indication that the country has stepped up efforts to convince the United States of improvements in its religious freedom record as two key U.S. decisions approach. The United States soon will decide whether to include Vietnam among the list of worst violators of religious freedom, and a vote in Congress on permanent normal trading relationship is also imminent. Christian leaders both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City told Compass that they heard about registration of some of their churches first from U.S. officials who contacted them. Since giving members’ names as part of the registration process, the church leaders said local authorities have used the information to threaten believers and intrude on services.

Christian Villagers Forced to Worship Hindu Deities in India

Lambini tribal villagers in Karnataka state prohibited Pastor Revanna Naik and his congregation from worshiping on Sunday (October 29), instead forcing them to bow down and worship Hindu deities, Compass Direct News reports. Three of the 11 Christian families at the church in the remote Kurumaradikere village, in Chitradurga district, refused to bow before the idols or partake of the prasad offering that would indicate allegiance to the Hindu deities. The local council chief ordered the village to ostracize those families. “This stigma of ostracization will crush the very spirit of the Lambani, who are very clan-oriented people,” Dr. Sajan George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told Compass.

Turkish Cleric: Criticizing Islam Threatens Peace

The Christian Post reports a leading Turkish cleric called criticism of Islam a serious threat to world peace. Speaking as Turkey prepared for a controversial visit by Pope Benedict XVI two months after the Pope provoked widespread anger by quoting an emperor who characterized the Prophet Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman," Ali Bardakoglu, head of Turkey's religious affairs, said "it was saddening" to see Islam being criticized while the religion's contribution to civilization is ignored. "This attitude, which fuels division and lack of mutual trust, is seriously threatening world peace," Bardakoglu told a conference in Istanbul. Bardakoglu is expected to meet with Benedict during the pope's Nov. 28-Dec. 1 visit. "We always tell the truth to everyone," Bardakoglu said when asked whether he would express his dismay to the Pope.