Religion Today Summaries - September 2, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 2, 2004

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

  • Evangelist: Europe Is Trying To Abolish God

  • Christian Broadcasts Beam Encouragement to Iraqi Believers

  • Religious Hate Law: A Threat To Free Speech?

  • Prayer Battle Against Adult TV

Evangelist: Europe Is Trying To Abolish God
Wolfgang Polzer, Assist News Service

An East German youth evangelist has called on Christians to heed the signs of Christ's Second Coming. One of the signs is the persecution of Christians according to Lutz Scheufler. "There have never been as many martyrs before," Scheufler told a gathering of 1,200 evangelicals in Marburg, August 30. According to the Lutheran evangelist there are two different kinds of persecution - the straightforward repression by atheistic regimes or Islamic forces and a creeping attempt to stamp out Christianity.  The latter could be observed in Western Europe, where secular societies act like democracies, but let the media determine "what one has to believe". The message of the Bible seems almost non-existent, said Scheufler. "Christianity has been pushed into a corner and seems to vanish from the public arena." Its place was taken over by a "democratic religion" with zero tolerance for any higher authority. Scheufler: "Anyone who says the standards of the Bible are universally valid is denounced as a fundamentalist." He called for repentance in the face of widespread abortion and asked: "How can we build a European house with millions of corpses of unborn children in the basement?" The departure from Christianity in Western Europe was also illustrated by the fact that the EU constitution makes no mention of a responsibility towards God.

Christian Broadcasts Beam Engouragment to Iraqi Believers
Allie Martin, AgapePress

A spokesman for a Christian satellite television network that broadcasts to the Middle East says it is tragic that tens of thousands of believers have fled Iraq in recent months. It is estimated that 40,000 Christians have left Iraq where fierce battles rage between coalition forces and terrorist supporters. Glen Hartson is with SAT-7, which beams Christian programming into the Middle East and Egypt. If the exodus continues, he says evangelism will be affected and "obviously it could be a very disastrous situation." SAT-7's belief, Hartson explains, is that "strengthening the body within each of the countries is what is going to continue to allow the [Church] to grow and be strengthened." The network representative notes that, ironically, the mass departure of Iraqi Christians has resulted indirectly from the liberation of Iraq and is largely due to the tension and fighting between the coalition forces and terrorists. While liberation certainly has been wonderful in one sense, he points out that from a Christian sense, with the change, Iraqi Christians went from living in relative security to living in constant danger. But although the Iraqi Christians are caught in the middle of a tense political situation, Hartson says the Christian network is urging believers to maintain a presence and witness in the troubled country.  

Religious Hate Law:  A Threat to Free Speech?
Barnabas Fund

Barnabas Fund has today launched a major campaign raising concerns on laws proposed by the British government to ban incitement to religious hatred. The Fund echoes the fears of many senior lawyers, MPs, peers, human rights groups and civil liberties organizations who believe such laws could pose a major threat to free speech. Home Secretary David Blunkett announced that the government is planning to introduce a new law banning incitement to religious hatred "as soon as possible" in a speech on 7 July. The intention is to extend existing legislation banning incitement to racial hatred to cover religious groups as well in order to prevent crimes such as extreme right-wing organizations stirring up hatred against Muslims. However, critics of the law point out that existing legislation banning incitement to violence and other criminal acts already provides protection if enforced properly. They argue that in reality this new law could end up being used to prevent all reasonable debate and criticism of another person's religion. Barnabas Fund is calling on its supporters to write to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and their MP in order to raise these concerns now in preparation for when a bill comes before parliament.

Prayer Battle Against Adult TV
Wolfgang Polzer, Assist News Service

Christians in Northeast Germany have launched a prayer battle against an adult television project. Entrepreneurs are trying to gain state subsidies for three encoded channels broadcasting pornography around the clock. Because of the high unemployment in the region the state government of Mecklenburg sees no problem in boosting the project with taxpayers' money. Anyone creating 100 jobs could expect to receive subsidies argues the department for economic development. The media control agency has also given the go-ahead. Mecklenburg is governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Post-Communists. The opposition of Christian Democrats and Liberals is strictly against the project. Manfred Schreiber, leader of the Pentecostal Elim Church in Anklam, is "deeply shocked, that our state should be abused for this kind of sinfulness." He asks: "How long can we stand by and watch Satan ruin precious souls?" He calls on all Christians to confront the powers of darkness in prayer.