Suicide Bomber Kills 4 Youths at Sudanese Church
A suicide bomber in military fatigues killed five young people at a church meeting Sept. 27 in Sudan's Upper Nile State, according to eyewitnesses. The man detonated a grenade on his belt after approaching a group of 34 young people holding an outdoor church meeting in Khorfulus, 25 miles southwest of Malakal. Khorfulus authorities have taken the position that the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier was drunk and accidentally set off the grenade, a church leader said. But according to a Christian support organization, one general said that he believed the goal of the attack was to intimidate churches. Joseph Maker Gordon, acting secretary general of the Presbyterian Church in Sudan, was on a week-long visit at the time of the bombing. "We were praying in another church [nearby] when we heard the explosion at 10 p.m.," Gordon said. The pastor immediately went to the scene of the attack to find that four young people and the bomber had been killed. Eyewitnesses told Gordon that the man had approached a group of Christian youth who were singing worship songs outside a Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) church building.
Compass Direct News via MissionNet
Report: Control of Temple Mount May Transfer to Jordan
A U.S.-sponsored Mideast summit scheduled for November aimed to produce a joint declaration between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has stated his willingness to consider turning over half of Jerusalem to the PA, a concession that has alarmed Jews and Christians worldwide.
There are also reports that a controversial, secret agreement has been reached that will transfer the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to Jordanian custody. Grant Jeffrey, an internationally respected author, speaker, television host, and Bible researcher, believes this could lead to the fulfillment of numerous prophecies regarding the rebuilding of the Temple in this generation. In his book, The New Temple and the Second Coming, Jeffrey says the "building of the Third Temple will commence much sooner than most people expect. Prophecy indicates that the generation alive today will see the Temple of God once again standing in Jerusalem, and the King of Israel-the returning Messiah-ruling from the throne of David!"
Christian Newswire via MissionNet
(Editor's note: This report is obviously highly speculative, but it came to us from a trusted source (MissionNet), and we felt we would be remiss in not sharing it with our readers...just in case!)
High Schoolers Protest "Under God" in Pledge of Allegiance
USAToday reports that about 50 high school students in Boulder, Colo., filed out in a First Amendment protest over the words "under God" in the daily Pledge of Allegiance. According to the (Boulder) Daily Camera, the students have three objections: It takes away from school time; it's ignored or disrespected by mocking teens; and the phrase, "one nation, under God," violates the separation of church and state.
In place of the Pledge, the group recited a revision written by the president of the Student Worker Club, which organized the walkout: "I pledge allegiance to the flag and my constitutional rights with which it comes. And to the diversity, in which our nation stands, one nation, part of one planet, with liberty, freedom, choice and justice for all."
"Boulder High has a highly diverse population, not all of whom believe in God, or one God,"said Emma Martens, a senior and president of the club, which has about a dozen members. "We didn't think it was fair for the whole school to have to listen to it. Its almost religious oppression."
Religion Today, USAToday, Boulder Daily Camera via MissionNet
British Government Backs Cloning of Human-Animal Mix
The British government has caved in to pressure from scientists there and announced it is backing a revised bill in parliament for human-animal hybrids, or chimeras. The creation of part-human, part-animal embryos has pro-life advocates upset as they say it is another step in the devaluation of human life. In what political observers see as a dramatic reversal, Health Minister Dawn Primarolo promised to allow the creation of the chimeras for research. Scientists claim the studies could lead to new treatments for diseases.
Primarolo will back a bill in the British parliament that will allow scientists to create the hybrids and kill them after 14 days. The bill also allows the creation of so-called "savior siblings" for serious illnesses and not just life-threatening ones. In addition to taking embryonic stem cells from the human being, the bill would allow scientists to harvest organs and take "other types of tissue and cells."
Government Sweep In Laos Cripples Village Church
Following a brutal government sweep of suspected insurgents in July, a village church in Laos that once had nearly 2,000 members has shrunk to only a few dozen daring to attend. Compass Direct News reports that most of its leaders are still either in prison or under house arrest. Christian sources said only about 20 to 30 members of the previously 1,900-member Laos Evangelical Church in Ban Sai Jarern Village, Bokeo Province in northwestern Laos, are still meeting after authorities three months ago arrested 200 Hmong Christians falsely accused of being separatist rebels. Many of those arrested, including women and children, are still in prison, Christian sources said, although estimates of the number detained were unavailable.
Religion Today Summaries
Disney Disallows God In Advertising for "10 Commandments"
Despite the fact that it is a movie about the Bible, family-friendly Disney Co. insisted that the word "God" be stricken from some advertisements promoting an upcoming animated film on Moses and the Ten Commandments. Fox News reported that Radio Disney was to broadcast a radio spot for Promenade Pictures, makers of the film "The Ten Commandments," but the company sent an e-mail earlier this month instructing that the phrase, "chosen by God," be stripped from the script. Calls to Radio Disney Network sales associate Jason Atkinson and other representatives were not returned. "In connection with the Ten Commandments, I did find it offensive," said Promenade President Cindy Bond. "God in our movie is the main character. You rip the whole guts out of the piece." Nonetheless, Promenade complied with Disney's request because the movie was targeting teens and tweens.
Religion Today via MissionNet
Many Girls' Schools In Pakistan Closed Due to Taliban Threat
More than 100 girls' schools were closed down in northwestern Pakistan on Oct. 1, following the murder of a female teacher by suspected pro-Taliban militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in the country's Mohmand Agency, according to media reports. The teacher was shot dead Sept. 29, in what appeared to be the fulfillment of threats of reprisals by Islamic extremists if teachers did not start wearing burqas (head-to-toe veils), the Dawn news channel reported. Female teachers responded by closing down all the girls' schools in the region.
Sympathizers of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan have recently targeted a number of women's educational institutions in the tribal areas and in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Buildings of two adjacent girls' schools were damaged by a powerful blast in the Swat District of NWFP the night of Sept. 29. A missionary institution for women in the same area was closed for a week earlier in the month after being threatened by an Islamic extremist organization, which accused the administration of propagating Christianity and obscenity. Education officials in Swat made wearing of the burqa obligatory for all female students late in September after several schools received threatening letters from the same organization.
Source: WorldWide Religious News via MissionNet
Young Americans More Resistant To Christianity
Young Americans today are more skeptical and resistant to Christianity than were people of the same age just a decade ago, according to a new study. Negative perceptions toward the Christian faith have outweighed the positive as a growing percentage of younger Americans associate with a faith outside Christianity. Only 16 percent of non-Christians aged 16 to 29 said they have a "good impression" of Christianity, concluded a report released Sept. 24 by the Barna Group. A decade ago the vast majority of Americans outside the Christian faith, including young people, felt favorably toward Christianity's role in society. Young people have an even lesser positive impression of Evangelicals. Only 3% of 16- to 29-year-olds who are not of the Christian faith express favorable views of Evangelicals. In the previous generation, 25% of young people had positive associations toward evangelicals. "[Evangelicals] have always been viewed with skepticism in the broader culture," the report stated. "However, those negative views are crystallizing and intensifying among young non-Christians." Common negative perceptions among non-Christians is that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%) and too involved in politics (75%).
Christian Post, Barna Group, Religion Today via MissionNet
Teen Suicides Rise At Alarming Rate
The number of youths who take their own lives increased by 8% in a period of one year, the largest single-year rise in 15 years, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Scott Stevens, director of student ministry at LifeWay Church Resources, told Baptist Press "Teens face challenges of many kinds, not to mention the pressures of a performance-based existence where often the only time they feel accepted is when they excel in their performance-in athletics, academics, etc.," Stevens said.
The study, released in September, found that after a 28.5% decrease in suicides among people ages 10-24 from 1990 to 2003, rates jumped 8% in 2004. Observers say they're not sure whether it's a one-year spike or the start of a trend, according to a report by USA Today.
The most significant increase was found among girls ages 10-14, an age and gender group which saw suicides rise 76% from 56 per 100,000 in 2003 to 94 per 100,000 in 2004, the study said.
Chad Childress, director of children's and student evangelism at the North American Mission Board, told BP: "The one thing I do know is that every teen must have unconditional love, acceptance and appreciation. I believe those are best found in two spheres of influence. First, the home must be the safe haven to unload and find freedom to mess up. Second, a community of friends and adults [is] needed to speak life, purpose and meaning into the lives of their friends."