Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 12, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 12, 2007

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

  • Religious Books Removed From U.S. Prisons
  • Felix Victims Need Your Help
  • Controversial Study: Is Change Possible for Gays?
  • China Ordains Successor to Bishop

Religious Books Removed From U.S. Prisons

According to a CBS story, the New York Times reports that chaplains in federal prisons have been systematically removing religious books and materials from prison libraries. Up to thousands of religious books had been removed from some libraries. The Bureau of Prisons has ordered chaplains to remove "any books, tapes, CDs and videos that are not on a list of approved resources." Prayer books and worship materials are reportedly not affected. The reason behind the purge, federal officials say, is a Justice Department recommendedation that prisons not become recruitment centers for militant Islamic and other religious groups.

Felix Victims Need Your Help

Hurricane Felix hit Nicaragua as a Category 5 storm last week, moving westward across mountainous regions of Nicaragua and Honduras. Operation Blessing reports that the results have been catastrophic with the death toll now nearing 100. Rescue workers and government officials are working on finding routes to reach the wounded and stranded people. OBI is working with the First Lady and the Minister of Health of Honduras as well as the local non-profit, El Shaddai, and has obtained a list of critically-needed medications. In addition, OBI is working to provide bed nets to shield off disease-carrying mosquitoes. Access to devastated areas is mostly limited to air or boat. Nearly 8,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. Some 70,000 Hondurans were evacuated to shelters Local hospitals are at capacity and orphanages have also suffered severe damage. The floodwaters that followed Hurricane Felix have spilled into more then 5,000 wells causing health concerns. Visit for the latest updates on disaster relief efforts in Central America.

Controversial Study: Is Change Possible for Gays?

The Christian Post reports that the results of a controversial study addressing two of the most debated questions on "ex-gays" will be announced this week. First: "Is change of sexual orientation possible?" And second: "Is the attempt to change harmful?" Researchers Stanton L. Jones of Wheaton College and Mark A. Yarhouse of Regent University, both of whom are evangelical Christians, conducted "A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation," asking the two questions which have been long debated by mental health professionals and Christian counselors. "We are evangelical Christians committed to the truth-seeking activity of science," Jones and Yarhouse said in a joint statement. Many professional organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association, are critical of what some call "reparative" or conversion therapies. Results of the milestone research by Stanton and Yarhouse will not be released until Thursday at the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) World Conference.

China Ordains Successor to Bishop

In China, the state-controlled Catholic church has ordained the "automatic successor" to one of the bishops, ASSIST News Service reports. Paul Xiao Zeijiang was ordained as Catholic coadjutor, or assistant bishop, in Guizhou province on Sunday. The BBC says the ordination is reported to be the first since the Pope's letter in June, calling for closer ties between the Vatican and China's official church. Reports from Rome said the candidate had the approval of both the Vatican and supporters of the Pope in China. As coadjutor, Xiao, aged 40, will "automatically succeed" the current bishop of Guizhou diocese, 88-year-old Anicetus Wang Chongyi, the China Daily newspaper said. Relations between China and the Vatican have been strained in recent years due to Beijing's insistence that the official Patriotic Church has the right to appoint bishops without Rome's approval.