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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 22, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 22, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Poll: Most Americans OK Student Religious Speech
  • More Americans Believe Religion Is Losing Influence
  • China: Pastor Bike Detained at Christians' Trial
  • South Sudan Needs External Help, Says Mission Group

Poll: Most Americans OK Student Religious Speech

Religion News Service reports that almost three-quarters of Americans think students should be able to express their religion in public schools, according to a new poll by the First Amendment Center. The support includes 52 percent of those who do not practice a particular faith. In addition, 80 percent of Americans said students should be permitted to pray at events at public schools. "Clearly most Americans want to keep government out of religion, but they don't see an expression of faith by a student at a public school event as a violation of the separation of church and state," said Ken Paulson, president of the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center in a Sept. 15 announcement. The telephone survey of 1,003 adults also found a majority (53 percent) of Americans continue to think the U.S. Constitution establishes a "Christian nation," compared to 55 percent in 2008.

More Americans Believe Religion Is Losing Influence

Sixty-seven percent of Americans believe that religion is losing its influence on American life, according to Pew Research Center. That's eight percent higher than in 2006. About a quarter believe religious influence is actually increasing. Majorities of Protestants (70 percent), Catholics (71 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (62 percent) all agree that religion is losing influence on American life, with white evangelical Protestants (79 percent) the most likely to agree with the statement. Most of those who see religious influence as decreasing also said this is a bad trend (53 percent), but 10 percent said this is actually a positive step for America.

China: Pastor Bike Detained at Christians' Trial

ChinaAid reports that Pastor "Bike" Zhang Mingxuan and his wife were detained Monday during the trial of two house church Christians. Pastor Bike had come to support Christians Liu Yunhua and Gao Jianli when Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials stopped him. The pastor, known for riding his bike across the country on missions of encouragement, has been detained, arrested, and interrogated countless times over the past 10 years in his efforts to strengthen house church Christians. He is the Chairman of the China House Church Alliance. Other Christians from Yucheng, Hennan, who had come to see the trial, were also detained by the Yucheng Public Security Bureau on their way home. They are Liu Fulan, Hua Cuiying, Li Yuxia, Ma Keai, Liu Sen.

South Sudan Needs External Help, Says Mission Group

The standard of life in South Sudan is so far behind modern society that it dreams to one day reach Third World status, says the head of a mission group that works in the region. Bill Deans, president of Mustard Seed International, said, "For the past three generations they've been in war. Every family is touched by that." The decades-long civil war between the Muslim North and Christian South left at least two million people dead and four million people displaced. The country faces a referendum in January that will likely result in South Sudan seceding from the North. Still, Christian Today reports that the country's troubles are far from over. "There is a great number of orphans, the infrastructure in the South is non-existent, there are no pave roads, thus the ability for the South to sustain itself is not there," Deans added.