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Religion Today Summaries - October 12, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 12, 2004

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

  • IRS Asked To Explain Restrictions Over Prayer for Presidential Election

  • Heart Of America Gets A New Heart

  • Debate Over Embryonic Stem-cell Research Continues

  • Indonesia: Triumph in the Midst of Persecution

IRS Asked To Explain Restrictions Over Prayer for Presidential Election

Concern over whether churches can pray for a George W. Bush victory in the upcoming presidential election has a Capitol Hill religious activist seeking an explanation from the Internal Revenue Service.  On behalf of concerned churches across the nation, Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, in conjunction with the American Center for Law & Justice, is attempting to find out what kind of restrictions churches can expect from the IRS.  "[We] sent a letter to the IRS seeking clarification on this issue because many pastors are concerned [if praying for a Bush victory] would impact their 501(c)3," the activist explains.  "It would be very troubling if the IRS were to step in and tell churches how they are to pray." Mahoney contends if the federal government were to prohibit churches from praying for Bush to be elected, for example, it would send a "sharp message that the hand of government is reaching into churches and censoring even how we can pray."  Mahoney expects a reply from the IRS in about ten days.

Heart Of America Gets A New Heart

Shortly after Joe Nemechek, driving the 01 U.S. Army car, took the checkered flag in the NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway Sunday afternoon, evangelist Billy Graham concluded his four-day Heart of America Crusade nearby as thousands entered spiritual victory lane by coming forward at his invitation to put their faith in Christ. The Crusade was held October 7-10 at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs.  While first night attendance was dampened by torrential storms, crusade attendance totaled nearly 155,000 over the four days, of which an average of more than 1,900 made a commitment to Christ each night. Mr. Graham last preached a sermon at his June 2003 Oklahoma City Crusade, and while claiming he felt rusty, showed no signs of it. Each evening the evangelist brought a message on the power of faith in Christ to change individual lives and hearts, regardless of their pasts. "Jesus said it is possible to live a new life," Mr. Graham assured.  "You can start over again with all the mistakes, failures and sins you have in your life." More than 1,200 churches representing 84 denominations came together during the crusade preparations. 

Debate Over Embryonic Stem-cell Research Continues

A Christian medial group is condemning a major stem-cell organization, saying it is trying to hide the truth from the public.  Dr. David Stevens of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations is upset over the attempt to hide the truth in the debate over embryonic stem-cell research.  "The International Society for Stem Cell Research is trying to mislead the public and the media by actually changing the terms used in describing cloning," Stevens explains.  "In fact, they're recommending [that their members abstain from using] the term 'cloning' ... and talk about 'nuclear transfer' or 'somatic cell nuclear transfer' when you're writing in a journal or in the popular media."  Dr. Stevens says this is a blatant attempt at verbal engineering in order to bring about social engineering and make people less sensitive to the taking of unborn human life.  In an interesting side note, the ISSCR also suggests its members refrain from using the term "therapeutic" -- as in "therapeutic cloning" -- because, like "cloning," the term is misleading.  In a statement to ISSCR members, the group states it is "far too early to predict therapeutic uses" of cloning.  "[N]aming a technique for its hoped outcome," ISSCR states, "may inadvertently offer premature hope to desperate patients and families."

Indonesia: Triumph in the Midst of Persecution
Chrisitan Aid

In this Muslim-dominated country, where extremists sometimes violently attack Christians, local believers continue to face opposition on several islands. In late August, three churches were forced to close by angry mobs who threatened believers with violence. On August 29, a church building was vandalized and partially destroyed. These attacks came a month and a half after five gunmen burst into a church service in July, killing the pastor and injuring four others. A native missionary working on the island of Java recently reported to Christian Aid that on September 6th, 16 churches were closed in Bandung City. An additional 4 were closed a week later in Ciparay. He points to pressure from Muslim radicals as the cause of the closures. These events come at a sensitive time for Indonesia, with the September 9th bombing of the Australian embassy by a militant Islamic group causing many to fear future attacks. The newly-elected president is in a tenuous position on the issue, warily expressing opposition to terrorism while fearing to alienate a predominantly Muslim population. In this environment of uncertainty, Christ is still being preached by native missionaries. Please pray that missionaries' work would continue to produce fruit despite Muslim opposition.