Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Eighteen Confirmed Dead in Twin Church Attacks in Kenya
- Bethlehem's Nativity Church Gets 'World Heritage' Status
- New York City Churches Allowed to Remain in Public Schools Buildings
- Archbishop of Canterbury Slams Christians Who Feel 'Disgusted' by Homosexuality
Eighteen Confirmed Dead in Twin Church Attacks in Kenya
At least 18 people have died while 66 have been wounded in Kenya’s north-eastern town of Garissa on Sunday when assailants burst into the Africa Inland Church (AIC) and Catholic Church, shooting at worshippers with firearms and detonating grenades. Two policemen guarding the AIC churches were among those killed. Four of the injured are in critical condition in Nairobi hospitals. Details are still emerging, but eye witnesses told Open Doors in telephone interviews that the attackers approached the AIC church, shot the two policemen guarding the church at point blank range, took their guns and started shooting at worshippers. As the church-goers realized what was going on, they tried to flee. Many were shot dead as they attempted to escape. The attackers threw at least four grenades into the church. At the Catholic Church the attackers apparently jumped over a fence and started shooting at people standing near the church. Three church members were killed before the attackers fled. “These brazen attacks on innocent Christian worshippers are horrific,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Carl Moeller. “The area near the border of Somalia and Kenya is becoming a killing field as well as a place where many aid workers are being kidnapped. While attacks on churches in Nigeria have held our attention over the last few months, attacks on Christians have increased in the Somalia/Kenya border area. Please pray for the families of the victims.” (Editor's note: some reports are saying only 17 people were killed in these incidents.)
Bethlehem's Nativity Church Gets 'World Heritage' Status
Christian Post reports that the ancient Church of the Nativity in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem has been placed on the list of World Heritage sites by the United Nation's cultural arm. U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to grant the world heritage status to the church, traditionally seen as the birthplace of Jesus, and pilgrimage route at the meeting of the World Heritage 21-nation committee in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday. The Associated Press quoted Sue Williams, UNESCO spokeswoman, as saying the committee voted 13-6 to put the Christian site, which needed urgent repairs, on the list. The United States and Israel opposed it, and two nations abstained. Read more on ChristianPost.com.
New York City Churches Allowed to Remain in Public Schools Buildings
Christianity Today reports that the 60 or more New York City churches facing possible eviction from their public school locations will now be allowed to stay. Thanks to a permanent injunction issued Friday (06/29/12) from a district court judge. "An ongoing conflict between religious organizations and the Department of Education has kept churches in limbo over the right to rent public school buildings for Sunday worship service," says Christianity Today. "Churches faced a July 1 deadline on their access to public schools unless the preliminary injunction was extended. Friday's permanent injunction essentially means that those on the side of churches win the case at the district court level, prevailing on the free exercise clause and establishment claims." Read more on ChristianityToday.com.
Archbishop of Canterbury Slams Christians Who Feel 'Disgusted' by Homosexuality
(RNS) Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticized some Christians for feeling so "embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted" over homosexuality that they seem unwelcoming to outsiders and convey a lack of understanding. Addressing a group of Christian teenagers at his Lambeth Palace residence in London, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion said Anglicans and other Christians are still in "quite a lot of tangles" about homosexuality. The confusion sometimes leaves the church "scratching its head and trying to work out," Williams said. His comments came barely two weeks after he slammed the British government for its plans to legalize same-sex marriages -- something that Williams said would be a mistake. The Anglican Communion itself has been deeply divided over homosexuality. The Episcopal Church, the communion's U.S. branch, allows gay bishops and sanctions same-sex commitment ceremonies, while more conservative leaders in Africa strongly denounce homosexuality. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Williams said that "what's frustrating is that we will have Christian people whose feelings about it are so strong, and sometimes so embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted, that it just sends out a message of unwelcome, or lack of understanding, or lack of patience." "So whatever we think about it," Williams added, "we need, as a church, to be tackling what we feel about it." (By AL WEBB c. 2012 Religion News Service)
Publication: July 2, 2012