Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 21, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 21, 2009

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

  • Uzbekistan: Man Jailed for Feeding Poor Children
  • Somali Gunmen Demand $1M for Kidnapped Aid Workers
  • Cuban Pastor Faces 7-Year Sentence; Watchdog Protests
  • Evangelical Richard Cizik Re-Emerges for Green Cause

Uzbekistan: Man Jailed for Feeding Poor Children

Mission News Network (MNN) reports that Uzbek officials have sentenced a Christian man for giving food to needy children. Baptist deacon Pavel Nenno was eventually sentenced to 15 days in prison after being jailed, released, and taken back into custody for questioning at the end of March. Authorities in Uzbekistan say "it is in the children's best interest to be kept from church activities," MNN reports, in order to allow children to "develop." In another incident, church members of Bukhara Full Baptist Church were fined an exorbitant amount for attending another church member's birthday party. General Secretary of the Uzbek Baptist Union, Pavel Peichev, believes the government perceives any denomination outside the official Russian Orthodox Church as a threat.

Somali Gunmen Demand $1M for Kidnapped Aid Workers

Reuters reports that three medical workers abducted in Somalia over the weekend have yet to be released. Their captors are demanding a $1 million ransom for Medicins Sans Frontieres Belgium workers - two male doctors from Belgium and Holland, as well as a local Somali employee. "We came back this morning with empty hands," said elder Aden Isak Ali from Rabdhure, a town close to where gunmen kidnapped the aid workers. Aid groups in the country have faced increasing threats from hardline Islamists and militias even as the humanitarian needs in the country have continued to rise. One leader of a militant group says his men followed the gunmen, but were unable to free the aid workers after their captors escaped the region.

Cuban Pastor Faces 7-Year Sentence; Watchdog Protests

ASSIST News Service reports that Pastor Omar Gude Pérez may face a seven-year prison if convicted in Cuba. The pastor is being tried for “illicit economic activity and falsification of documents," charges that persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) believes are a farce. CSW says that Pérez, a leader of a non-denominational, non-political religious movement in Cuba known as the “Apostolic Reformation,” has already spent almost one year in prison without being given a trial. “The pastor’s wife says the new charges are merely an attempt to disguise the fact that he is a victim of religious persecution,” said a CSW spokesperson. Pérez was originally charged with human trafficking; the charges were only changed last week.

Evangelical Richard Cizik Re-Emerges for Green Cause

The Christian Post reports that the former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has publicly reappeared, speaking on one of the issues that led to his forced resignation last year. Richard Cizik gave an interfaith lecture on creation care Sunday in preparation for Earth Day observances on Wednesday. “The best strategy is to bring religious communities together with scientists,” Cizik said as the keynote speaker of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington’s Fifth Richard W. Snowdon Lecture. “Yes, together the same we must do this. So the strategy has to be what you are about at the Interfaith Conference.” Cizik has said creation care "is a more holistic understanding of the evangelical pro-life stance," the Christian Post reports.