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Religion Today Summaries - October 19, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 19, 2004

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

  • Most Protestants Believe Jesus Is Only Way To Salvation, Study Says

  • Vietnam: Hundreds Remain Imprisoned for Christ 

  • The Constitutionality of Public Displays of The Ten Commandments Defended

  • India: Indigenous Ministries Reach World's Second Largest Muslim Population

Most Protestants Believe Jesus Is Only Way To Salvation, Study Says
Erin Curry, Baptist Press

The vast majority of Protestant clergy in America believe strongly that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ and that they have a responsibility to evangelize members of non-Christian faiths, but they also are willing to partner with non-Christian faith groups to accomplish good for society, according to a recent study. Ellison Research, a full-service marketing research firm in Phoenix reported that 88 percent of senior pastors of Protestant churches said they agree strongly with the statement, "Regardless of what other faiths believe, Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation." A significant difference was found among ministers from denominations that are members of the National Association of Evangelicals and those with membership in the mainline National Council of Churches, Ellison noted. Ninety-six percent of pastors associated with the NAE agreed strongly that Jesus is the only way to salvation, but among NCC ministers only 65 percent agreed strongly. A breakdown by denomination showed that 100 percent of Pentecostal ministers who responded to the survey agreed strongly with the exclusivity of Jesus, and 98 percent of Southern Baptist ministers agreed. Strong agreement was much less likely among Lutherans and Methodists at 77 and 65 percent respectively, Ellison said. The study's total sample is accurate to within plus or minus 3.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level with a 50 percent response distribution.

Vietnam: Hundreds Remain Imprisoned for Christ
Christian Aid

According to a report received recently by Christian Aid from a native mission leader in Vietnam, over 100 tribal Christians are currently serving sentences in Vietnamese prisons, enduring torture and hunger because they have refused to renounce Christ. Vietnam has some of the most intense religious persecution in the world. This claim was officially substantiated on September 15th when the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report named Vietnam one of its "countries of particular concern." The communist Vietnamese government has long denied any persecution of religious groups. Christian tribal people, because they were said to be allies of the USA in the Vietnam War, are particularly subjected to persecution. Repeatedly, government authorities threaten believers to renounce Christ or they will burn down their homes. Christians who do not renounce their faith can face sentences as long as 13 years. Indigenous Christian ministries are working to aid families by visiting wives and children, bringing spiritual encouragement and temporary financial support. These missionaries are leading many tribal people to the Lord despite the government's opposition. Please pray for these ministries as they evangelize tribal people and support persecuted Christians.

The Constitutionality of Public Displays of The Ten Commandments Defended
Allie Martin, AgapePress

A California-based legal defense organization has announced its intention to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court defending the constitutionality of public displays of the Ten Commandments.  Stating that the Commandments have a secular purpose as well as religious significance, Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute made the announcement the day after the high court announced it will revisit the issue after two decades of silence. On the same day, another legal group -- the Washington, DC-based American Center for Law and Justice -- voiced its pleasure about the Supreme Court's decision, saying the justices have the important opportunity to uphold the constitutionality of Ten Commandments displays.  Like Dacus, ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow says the Commandments are important from a historical standpoint, "and are also widely displayed throughout our country -- including the very chamber where the Supreme Court will hear this case."  The ACLJ is involved in nearly 20 cases involving a challenge to longstanding displays of the Ten Commandments throughout the country.

India: Indigenous Ministries Reach World's Second Largest Muslim Population
Christian Aid

As many eyes are drawn to the growing presence of Islam in Africa and the Arab world, native missionaries in India work to reach the world's second largest population of Muslims-right within their own borders. Statistics reveal that there are 140 million Muslims in India, second in number only to Indonesia. Native missionaries are discovering that Indian Muslims are very receptive to the gospel. There is little of the fanatic, violent ideology that characterizes some Muslims in other parts of the world. In recent years, native missionaries have begun special outreaches to Muslim communities, particularly in northern India where they are most numerous. Some former Muslims who have turned to Christ now minister for Him among their own people. Indigenous ministries have begun sending gospel workers to Muslim communities where they can set up a small business that brings them in daily contact with Muslim neighbors. Once relationships develop, missionaries find many are open to the truth of Christ. Islam has had a presence in India for over 1000 years; many of its followers, though they may not be religiously zealous, are too deeply rooted in centuries of Islamic beliefs and practices to think about change. Please pray with native missionaries as they work to spread the gospel in this fertile mission field.