Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 16, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 16, 2008

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

  • Asking about Religious Freedom Violations in Uzbekistan is Considered Stupid
  • New Study Offers Healing from Abortion
  • 'Nazi' Pope Runs 'Child-Abusing Cult,' Says HBO's Maher
  • Romania: Missions Remain Strong while Bucharest Summit Fragile

Asking about Religious Freedom Violations in Uzbekistan is Considered Stupid

ASSIST News Service reports that several Protestants have been detained in separate raids on churches in Samarkand, Uzbekistan since the beginning of April. According to an article by Forum 18 News Service, church member Bobur Aslamov remains in detention at an unknown location, following a raid on a meeting of a charismatic Protestant church in a private home in the central city of Samarkand on April 3. And in a raid on a Full Gospel service in the capital Tashkent on the evening of April 9, church leader Serik Kadyrov and four others were held in custody overnight before being freed. Begzot Kadyrov, the leading specialist of the government's Religious Affairs Committee in Tashkent, refused to discuss the detention of the Protestants in early April or any of the other recent harassment of religious communities. "Don't disturb us with stupid questions about religious liberties," he told Forum 18 on 10 April. "How many times do I have to explain to you stupid people: write an official letter to the Foreign Ministry."

New Study Offers Healing from Abortion

Some women "tuck an abortion away for many, many years," said Pat Layton, author of Surrendering the Secret: Healing the Heartbreak of Abortion, according to Baptist Press. "[T]he secret of abortion is that every woman still thinks she is the only one." But at least half of American women experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45 and, at current rates, about one-third undergo an abortion, according to statistics released by the Guttmacher Institute. Layton wrote her Surrendering the Secret study a number of years ago in response to dealing with her own abortion. The Bible study now has been released by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. "I wrote it after becoming a Christian and realizing the church had very little knowledge on how to deal with abortion and its effect on women," Layton said on an Inside LifeWay podcast. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 43 percent of those having abortions identify themselves as Protestant. The eight-week study includes a 20-30 minute video introduction that supports each week's lesson in helping women through the post-abortion healing process.

'Nazi' Pope Runs 'Child-Abusing Cult,' Says HBO's Maher

According to, comments by HBO's Bill Maher insulting the Pope and calling Catholicism a "cult" that promotes "organized pedophilia" have stirred resentment among many American Catholics upset he would say this the week before Pope Benedict XVI visits the United States. The comments were made on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday, Apr. 11. Maher went into a long monologue on his program comparing the Catholic church to a polygamous cult -- the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints -- which was raided on Apr. 3 and whose founder, Warren Jeffs, was convicted last year for being an accessory to the rape of a teenage girl. Maher compared the Texas scandal and its latest alleged abuse with the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in the United States in 2002. "I'd like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult," Maher told his audience. "Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats. That's right, the Pope is coming to America this week and, ladies, he's single." Catholic League President Bill Donohue responded that Maher "lied when he said the Pope 'used to be a Nazi.' Like all young men in Germany at the time, he was conscripted into a German Youth organization (from which he fled as soon as he could). Every responsible Jewish leader has acknowledged this reality and has never sought to brand the Pope a Nazi. That job falls to Maher."

Romania: Missions Remain Strong while Bucharest Summit Fragile

In spite of the disappointments and fractious international relationships surfacing at the recent NATO summit in Bucharest, there is good news coming out of Romania, ASSIST News Service reports. Karleen R. Dewey, a missionary to Romanian orphans since 1991, says that while hope for the future union of eastern European countries has floundered politically, ministry to Romania's orphans continues. "Some must wonder whether international government organizations are relevant in the 21st century. Or, are Christian missions progressing in former communist countries where governments cannot?" she writes. "Good news is coming out of Romania. Children once abandoned are placed in foster homes. Romanian adoptions are encouraged. Fewer babies are being abandoned in hospitals," she said. Dewey says that 20-30 volunteers have come to the small community of Marghita from Sweden, Scotland, England, Canada, Germany and the US to care for abandoned children from infants to young adults. In 2000, the Loving Arms team from Mercy Ministries began annual mission trips to Marghita, Romania, to offer summer camps, held in the Black Forest of Transylvania, to teen orphans. After retiring, Karleen and her husband Fred moved to Marghita, Romania in 2005 where they have a "hands on" ministry to teen orphans.