Religion Today Summaries – November 3, 2005
Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today’s edition:
* More Britons Believe in Ghosts than God
* South London Council Takes Christ out of Christmas
* South America: Learning to Read Brings Many to Jesus
* Muslim State to Build First Christian Church in 1,400 Years
More Britons Believe in Ghosts than God
A total of 2,012 people in the United Kingdom were polled on their beliefs regarding the supernatural. Over two thirds (68%) said they believe in the existence of ghosts and spirits. Just over half (55%) said they believe in the existence of a God. Some 26 percent believe in UFO's, 19 percent in reincarnation, and 4 percent in the mythical Loch Ness Monster. The survey found 12 percent believe they have actually seen a ghost. Just over three quarters (76%) said that reality TV shows and films like The Blair Witch Project have helped convince them spooks and ghouls really exist. The poll was carried out in advance of Halloween by entertainment retailer ChoicesUK. Spokesman David Rich said: "We want to believe in ghosts more than ever."
South London Council Takes Christ out of Christmas
Ruth Gledhill, London Times
Christmas is weeks away, but has already been banned from some decorative displays in the Lambeth section of South London. Bureaucrats in Lambeth have established policy to ensure that all seasonal lights (also now known as “Winter Lights” and “Celebrity Lights”) are bereft of any connotation of Christianity. "The term 'winter lights'" said a council spokesman, "simply reflects the fact that a number of religious festivals take place over the winter period when the lights are switched on." Bernard Gentry, a Roman Catholic councilor from the Tory party, said: "We should not be too scared to acknowledge the Christian festival of Christmas in the same way as we mark the Hindu festival of Diwali, the Muslim month of Ramadan, and the Jewish Yom Kippur."
South America: Learning to Read Brings Many to Jesus
Adventist News Network
Of the 860 million people worldwide who do not know how to read, about two-thirds are women, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. But in South America, women are leading the fight against illiteracy. With the theme of "Alphabetize to Evangelize," the Women's Ministries department of the Adventist Church is conducting a series of reading workshops all over the continent. The program has a dual purpose: end the crippling cycle of poverty that is often a result of illiteracy, and share the Gospel with students. The entire content is based on Bible texts. Each student who successfully completes the curriculum is presented with a Bible. Evelyn Nagel, Women's Ministries director in South America, says literacy is just one of the major issues facing women that they are addressing. "In this manner we are helping to decrease illiteracy rates. At the same time we want to take the Gospel to all people," she says.
Muslim State to Build First Christian Church in 1,400 Years
Michael Theodoulou, London Times
(Qatar) -- The reform-minded Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, has donated land on the outskirts of Doha for the construction of the first Christian church in that country since the 7th century. The Church of the Epiphany, which will begin operations in 2006 under 58-year-old Scotsman Ian Young, will not have a spire or free-standing cross, though walkways and grounds of the church will have motifs resembling those used in early Christian churches. The Most Rev Clive Handford, the Anglican Bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf, said: “We are there as guests in a Muslim country and we wish to be sensitive to our hosts... but once you’re inside the gates it will be quite obvious that you are in a Christian centre. We hope that the centre can be a base for ongoing Muslim-Christian dialogue.” Christianity disappeared from most Gulf Arab states within a few centuries of the arrival of Islam, but many Christians have migrated to the region since the discovery of oil. Qatar’s Anglican community is estimated between 7,000 and 10,000 people.