Religion Today Summaries, November 13, 2002

Religion Today Summaries, November 13, 2002

In Today's Edition:

  • In the Face of Disaster, Church Steps Forward to be Hands of God
  • Kazakstan Baptist Bible Study Ends in Police Raid
  • Pastors Pessimistic Over Faith's Future
  • Utah Supreme Court Considers Atheist Prayer Case, However Damage Already Done

In the Face of Disaster, Church Steps Forward to be Hands of God
Chad Nykamp

( The tornadoes that ripped through Tennessee and Ohio Sunday night left dozens dead and even more injured as hundreds of families lost their homes in this wave of super storms.  Stories like this cause most people to stop and pause to think about loved ones and the blessings that God has given us.  However, there are others who have the opposite reaction.  These are the times that they move into action.  For one such group, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), tragic events like this mean stepping up to the call to reach out and show God’s love by meeting the long term needs of people effected by natural disasters.  In the days following these events, Art Jackson, Regional Manager for CRWRC, pays special attention to poor communities where many people lacked sufficient insurance on their homes.  That's because CRWRC's Disaster Response Services specializes in long-term disaster recovery – including home repair and reconstruction - for the neediest disaster survivors.  Jackson expects that CRWRC will be asked to help many families in the Southeastern region following these recent storms.  We are reminded that in times such as these, we have a tremendous opportunity to show the love of Christ in very tangible ways.  Find out today how you and your church can become involved in disaster relief efforts.  You can find more information on CRWRC’s work by visiting their website at

Kazakstan Baptist Bible Study Ends in Police Raid
Stefan J. Bos, Eastern Europe Correspondent, ASSIST News Service with Keston News Service

Baptist Christians in Kazakstan are pressured to no longer express their faith in Christ publicly while their leader is facing possible jail time for refusing to stop bible study meetings in his home, reports said Monday, November 11.  The small Baptist community in Atyrau, a municipality near the Caspian Sea in northwestern Kazakstan, has been threatened by police forces and authorities to end their activities, reported the Keston News Service (KNS).  Baptist church leader Kormangazy Abdumuratov said the pressure increased when police and officers of the National Security Committee, the former KGB-secret service, "raided" his apartment where eight Baptists were studying the Bible.  "They searched every room, asking who owned the religious books and Bibles they found. Then they began to write out an official report on them for holding a church meeting "unlawfully," KNS said, quoting Abdumuratov.  Authorities have reportedly also pressured him to end his work as pastor in another Baptist church in the region. The pressure on Baptists in Kazakstan comes amid growing pressure on Christians in the former Soviet Union.

Pastors Pessimistic Over Faith's Future

(Charisma News Service) A large majority of pastors predict that alternative religions and New Age spirituality will become more influential in the next decade.  According to the latest study by Ellison Research of Phoenix, 82 percent of ministers expect a growing influence of non-Christian faiths and 55 percent think New Age spirituality will increase in impact in the next 10 years, the Associated Press (AP) reported.  The alarming findings of a survey of Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists and Pentecostal/ charismatic ministers show many pastors are not upbeat about the future of Christianity in America.  The 567 pastors polled by the Arizona organization were at their most pessimistic when asked about "overall freedom of religion in the U.S.," with 44 percent anticipating declining freedom of religion.  In addition, just 41 percent predict decreasing influence of Christianity in Americans' daily lives in 2012 than it is in 2002, the AP reported.  Pastors were even less likely to feel there will be a rise in "the influence of Christianity in national politics," with only 9 percent predicting increased Christian influence in that arena.

Utah Supreme Court Considers Atheist Prayer Case, However Damage Already Done

(AgapePress) The Utah Supreme Court is considering a suit by an atheist who’s proposed prayer was rejected by the Murray City Council.  Tom Snyder first filed a federal lawsuit against Murray in 1994 for allowing other pre-meeting prayers but refusing to let him offer a prayer addressed to "Our Mother, who art in heaven."  The Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver dismissed the suit, but preserved the claims in the case based on Utah state law.  Snyder's attorney contends that Murray cannot discriminate based on the content of the prayer because it has established a free speech forum.  Salt Lake City abandoned prayer before its meetings when faced with a similar prayer request from Snyder.