Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 24, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 24, 2006

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

  • Trick-or-Tract this Halloween
  • Bible Gets African Interpretation
  • Israel's Tourism Industry Targets American Southerners, Christians
  • Gay Issues Ripping Apart Episcopal Dallas Diocese

Trick-or-Tract this Halloween

AgapePress reports that Ray Comfort of Living Waters Ministries and "The Way of the Master" says for years he and his wife would not give out candy when trick-or-treaters came by on Halloween night -- that is, until he realized what a tremendous opportunity they were missing. "When Halloween would come around," he recalls, "Sue and I would turn the light off, and we'd go to bed early; and when people knocked on the door, we'd hide. And I thought, 'This is horrible!'" But one day, Comfort says he had an epiphany. "I thought, 'Hang on... people are knocking on my door -- strangers.' So we made up some packets with tracts in them and candy. And the first night we did this, we had over a hundred people come knocking on my door, and I gave them tracts." On no other night of the year, the ministry founder points out, does he get a chance to share his faith with strangers who stop by his home like this. "And so I look forward to Halloween; it's my evangelistic highlight of the year, when people come door-knocking," Comfort says. He adds that Living Waters Ministries offers at its website,, a "Halloween pack" especially designed to help Christians reach the lost by using Halloween as a springboard.

Bible Gets African Interpretation

"The Bible was not written against the cultural background of Africans," biblical scholar Tokunboh Adeyemo told The Associated Press. "The Bible came through from Western missionaries, and the interpretation they gave was based on their own cultural background." With that impetus, Adeyemo and other theologians created the Africa Bible Commentary, a 1,600-page book released this summer. The commentary uses African proverbs and idioms to apply the Bible’s teachings to contemporary African problems, including AIDS, corruption, and female genital mutilation. It took 12 years to complete. The commentary also includes essays which give guidance on Christian behavior in today’s world. There are also passages denouncing witchcraft. Africa Bible Commentary was published in English but there are plans for versions in Swahili, Amharic, Yoruba, Zulu and other languages.

Israel's Tourism Industry Targets American Southerners, Christians

An Israeli tourism official says a new office in Atlanta, Georgia, is designed to draw Christians from the Bible Belt and the rest of the southeastern United States for tours of Israel through one of America's busiest transportation hubs, AgapePress reports. According to Arie Sommer, Israel's Tourism Commissioner for North and South America, his agency has an ambitious, dual goal -- in addition to increasing the number of American tourists traveling to his country, he says Israel really wants to see more U.S. Christians visiting and touring the Holy Land. He says before the events of September 11, 2001, up to 50 percent of American tourists to Israel were Christians. But after five years of America's war on terror and Israel's battles with the PLO, Hezbollah, and others, tourism to the Middle East has taken a hit. Only now is Israel's tourism industry beginning to be in a position to resume thriving, Sommer explains.

Gay Issues Ripping Apart Episcopal Dallas Diocese

The Dallas diocese of the Episcopal Church is staying in the denomination - for now - instead of splitting over same-sex marriages and the ordination of gay priests, reports the web site for WOAI TV. Diocese leaders listened to a plea from their bishop to stay in the church, but at a two-day annual convention that ended Saturday, they approved a process that could lead to leaving the denomination next year. According to a survey commissioned by Bishop James Stanton, more than half of local church leaders believe the denomination has gone seriously wrong by ordaining gay priests and blessing same-sex unions. About 42 percent said they were ready to leave over the issues. Almost a third want to remove "Episcopal" from church signs and letterhead. Only a fourth of the more than 700 leaders surveyed said that the Episcopal Church had not gone seriously wrong. Many of the delegates hope that delaying action by a year will give the international Anglican Communion time to create a new home for conservative American Episcopalians.