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Peace at Last in Sudan?

A security deal signed in late September by Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Taha and John Garang, leader of the rebel group SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army), is a significant step toward peace in Sudan and has important implications for the relief community and concerned Christians. Tom Vraalsen, the UN special envoy for humanitarian needs in Sudan, said he was optimistic the bloodshed would finally end. Over 2 million people have died since fighting erupted in 1983, mostly through war-induced famine and disease. Yet southern Sudan has one of the fastest growing churches in the world.

Religion Today via MissionNet

Twenty-Somethings Turn Off Church

Millions of America’s “twenty-somethings”—over half of whom were active in churches during their teens—are putting Christianity on the backburner, according to a recent study by the Barna Research Group. Americans in their 20s are significantly less likely than any other age group to attend church services, donate, be absolutely committed to Christianity, read the Bible, or serve as a volunteer or lay leader in churches. Only 3 out of 10 attend church compared to almost half of over-40s. Yet 8 out of 10 say their religious faith is very important to them.

Barna Research Online via MissionNet

World Anglicans May Sever Episcopal Church Over Gay Bishop

Anglican leaders at an emergency meeting in Canterbury, England, issued a statement Oct. 16 that distances the worldwide body from a controversial action by the Episcopal Church (USA) and warned of an even further divide if an openly-homosexual bishop is consecrated.

The two-day meeting was called after the Episcopal Church (USA) confirmed  Gene Robinson as a bishop in August.

The Anglican statement, passed unanimously by the 37 primates, criticizes both the decision by the Episcopal Church and the one by the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada allowing blessings of same-sex couples. It warns against Robinson's consecration, which was scheduled for Nov. 2.

“If [Robinson’s] consecration proceeds, we recognize that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the communion itself will be put in jeopardy,” the statement said. “In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognized by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of communion with the Episcopal Church (USA)…. In most of our provinces the election of Canon Gene Robinson would not have been possible since his chosen lifestyle would give rise to a canonical impediment to his consecration as a bishop,” it states. Similar actions apply to the situation in Canada, the statement said.

The meeting in Canterbury came on the heels of a meeting by conservative American Episcopalians in Texas criticizing the actions of the Episcopal Church.

Baptist Press

­Indonesian Believers Murdered

Indonesian Christians who have quietly lived in the village of Old Beteleme (Bethlehem), Central Sulawesi, since being displaced by a three-year wave of religious violence suffered a night-time attack Oct.11th by Muslims in white crying “Allahu Akbar.” Most villagers fled to the forest and watched helplessly as, for the second time, they lost their homes and possessions. Thirty-eight houses and a church were looted and burned to the ground. A 55-year-old teacher reportedly heard a knock at her door and went to see if anyone was in trouble. She was met with a hail of bullets and died within a few minutes. Another man was shot and 6 others are missing. Although an agreement between Christians and Muslims was signed in December, 2001, the Indonesian government has ignored many violations like this.

Compass via MissionNet

Laos’s Untold War Against Christians

Unlike North Korea’s well-known hostility to Christianity, Laos’s war against Christians gets little attention. A report from Elizabeth Kendal of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Commission reveals how the Lao government is waging this relentless war.

The Hmong, large numbers of whom are Christian, are major targets. Because they sided with the U.S. in the Indochina war of the 1960s, they are considered spies of the West, enemies of the state, and therefore fit for extermination.

Since 1975, Lao believers have been beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and forced from their lands for refusing to renounce their faith. “The government wants us to go back and worship evil spirits,” wrote a believer in June. Villagers are encouraged to report any Christians to authorities, so they can be arrested or eliminated. Many Hmong groups were reported hiding in the jungle from constant military attack, including the use of chemical weapons. The observer who made this report said that as a result of these constant attacks, one group of 8,000 Hmong has been reduced to a mere 750. “There are videos of these attacks and hundreds of photos,” the observer said. “These have been presented both to the International Red Cross and the UN, but nobody in the West seems interested to help.”

Christian Aid via MissionNet

ABC to Import Wife-Swap Show

According to a Reuters report from London, ABC has signed an agreement to air a version of the UK reality series “Wife Swap” for six weeks next summer. The show, in which women switch families for two weeks, has been a major audience draw in England.

ABC reportedly plans to tone down the title to “Trading Moms.” No word on whether the content will be likewise toned down. Reuters said that RDF Media, the show’s producer, would not divulge details.

Based on a Reuters report, via CNN.com

Editor’s note: ABC is owned by Disney, which in turn is run by Michael Eisner, who has made a shambles of the business ethic of the gentle genius, Walt Disney.

Russians Turn to Moral Education as Population Plummets

Unbridled sexual promiscuity, combined with runaway abortion and rampant drug use, could mean the end of Russia as we know it today, according to Sergey Rakhuba of Russian Ministries. The country’s population is dropping by about 1 million per year as the death rate outpaces the birth rate.

Rakhuba says that’s why Russian Ministries is mobilizing evangelicals to get involved in teaching biblical morality. “Young people are very much interested,” he said. “ So our people mobilize local churches who introduce the subject. The Ministry of Education in one region asked us if we could provide enough curriculum to be able to be used in the public schools.”

Rakhuba hopes this will help stem a declining population and turn the country to Christ. “If Russia’s population continues declining [at the present rate] and issues such as abortion and morality in the younger generation are not addressed, Russia could be simply be wiped off the globe in 50 to 70 years.”

Mission Network News

Conservative Christians Hail Rejection of Gay Marriage

Conservative Christian organizations are cheering an opinion issued Oct. 10 by Arizona’s Court of Appeals that concluded that same-sex partners do not have the legal right to marry. “We hold that the fundamental right to marry protected by our federal and state constitutions does not encompass the right to marry a same-sex partner,” concluded Judge Ann A. Scott Timmer. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, called the case a defeat of an effort by a gay couple to apply the Supreme Court’s decision upholding sodomy to same-sex marriage. “The Arizona Court of Appeals rejected any notion that Lawrence v. Texas legitimized same-sex marriage,” said the chief counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund.

Religion Today Summaries

Plan to Rid Haiti of Voodoo

As Haiti approaches the 200th anniversary of independence, many Christians believe now is the time to free the country from the bondage of voodoo. “On Aug. 14, 1791, a Haiti slave sacrificed a pig in his voodoo worship and committed the entire island nation of Haiti to Satan,” said World Help President Vernon Brewer. Brewer says that as the country prepares to celebrate its freedom on Jan. 1st, 2004, local churches have asked World Help to provide Creole and French Bibles for an evangelistic thrust. Twelve simultaneous citywide evangelistic festivals are planned with a major festival in the capital city of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 1st. The ministry is also working in partnership with other organizations in Haiti to reach homeless children in the slums, plant churches and train leaders.

Mission Network News

Foul Language Hits Alarming High on TV

Prime-time network television features increasing amounts of foul language, shows a study by the Parents Television Council. The use of various kinds of foul language—from curses to offensive epithets to sexually suggestive language—were examined by analysts viewing prime-time series on major broadcast networks during the first two weeks in November in 1998, 2000 and 2002. The report added that the “entertainment industry needs to get serious about reducing the flood of vulgarity coming into the family home via the broadcast airwaves.”

Across the board, analysts found that foul language during the “family hour” (8 to 9 p.m.) increased by 95% between 1998 and 2002. It increased by 109% during the 9 p.m. hour and 39% during the 10 p.m. hour.

Religion News Service

Food Deliveries Resumed in Iraq

Southern Baptists resumed delivery of food packets to Iraq Oct.7, after a five-week delay due to concerns for the safety of humanitarian workers in the country. The arrival of Southern Baptist volunteer teams had been interrupted after information was received that a remnant of Saddam Hussein loyalists in the country were intentionally targeting hu­manitarian workers for attacks. In recent weeks, however, the vast majority of attacks have occurred after dark and have been directed at military targets.

Boxes previously delivered in Iraq have helped open people to the gospel with many recipients asking for Bibles. A local worker reported that Shiite Muslim mosques in Baghdad held a special day of prayer in appreciation for the food boxes.

Baptist Press via MissionNet

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