Religion Today Summaries, September 23, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, September 23, 2003

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

  • Indonesian Authorities Illegally Detain Christian Leader
  • Rhema Founder Hospitalized After Collapsing
  • Baptists Aid in Hurricane Isabel Recovery Effort
  • Focus on the Family to Continue Suit Over Anti-Gay Ads

Indonesian Authorities Illegally Detain Christian Leader
Geoff Stamp, Compass Direct

Christians in Indonesia have issued an urgent call for prayer for the release of Rev. Rinaldy Damanik, whose prison detention in Palu, Central Sulawesi, should have ended on September 15, according to Indonesian law. That day, Damanik's extended detention order expired, but Palu prison authorities refused a release request from his lawyers until clearance comes from a higher authority. The High Court of Central Sulawesi has already extended Damanik's imprisonment five times, but can no longer do so, due to a pending appeal before the nation's Supreme Court. To date, the Supreme Court has issued no extension order of its own; therefore, Damanik's imprisonment is now illegal. Last June, the Central Sulawesi court sentenced the prominent Christian leader to three years in prison for allegedly transporting illegal arms. Sources in Indonesia say his imprisonment is part of the Indonesian government's attempt to blame the Christian community for inter-religious violence in the Poso region.

Rhema Founder Hospitalized After Collapsing
Charisma News Service

Kenneth E. Hagin Sr., who launched a worldwide charismatic ministry renowned for its message of faith and biblical prosperity from Oklahoma, has been hospitalized in Tulsa after collapsing at home last Sunday. Founder of Rhema Bible Training Center, Hagin, 86, is in critical but stable condition, according to a family spokesman. Hagin's ministries include Rhema Bible Training Centers in 14 nations and Rhema churches in more than 110 nations, including the 8,000-member Rhema Bible Church in Broken Arrow, Okla. Its pastor is Hagin's son, Kenneth Hagin Jr. There are more than 23,000 graduates from Rhema Bible schools. Hagin was part of the healing revival that swept the nation in the 1950s and '60s. He moved from Texas to the Tulsa area in 1966. Rhema Ministerial Association International sponsors Hagin's annual Camp Meeting in July, one of Tulsa's largest conventions, and distributes millions of books and tapes of his teachings. Hagin began his ministry in Texas in 1934. He pastored there for 12 years, then traveled extensively as an itinerant minister. In addition to speaking at his Camp Meeting this summer, Hagin was scheduled to minister in Georgia. in October, and in Florida in January and February.

Baptists Aid in Hurricane Isabel Recovery Effort
Agape Press

Hurricane Isabel has moved on, but the damage the big storm caused along the Eastern seaboard is still very much in evidence. In response, Southern Baptist disaster relief units from seven states were deployed September 19 to lead in the cleanup and recovery efforts from the destruction left by the storm. According to Associated Press, some 5,000 Southern Baptist volunteers have found opportunities to share the love of Christ by assisting storm victims in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, DC. The volunteers have been cutting up fallen trees, removing mud from flooded homes, and cooking free meals in addition to comforting and praying with storm victims. The Virginia Baptist disaster relief team is among the many organized groups assisting federal, state and local workers in the cleanup. Jim George, who heads the relief team in the region, has been sending units to the hardest hit areas and has over 1,000 volunteers to call upon, with local churches providing even more help. He says recovery from Isabel would take years if not for the tens of thousands of volunteers involved in the cleanup.

Focus on the Family to Continue Suit Over Anti-Gay Ads
Religion News Service

A federal appellate court has given new life to a lawsuit by Focus on the Family against a Florida bus system that would not advertise its anti-homosexuality conference. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision Sept. 12 that said a federal judge in Tampa was mistaken when he threw out the conservative Christian group's 2001 lawsuit against the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. The appeals court said Focus on the Family, which is based in Colorado Springs, Colo., can pursue its claim that the system violated its First Amendment rights when it refused to permit the group to advertise its "Love Won Out" convention in St. Petersburg, Fla. "This is a great victory -- not just for us, but for the Constitution," Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family's vice president of public policy, said in a statement. The ads, designed for bus shelters, described how those attending the February 2000 event would learn "truths about coming out of the homosexual lifestyle," the ministry said.