Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 28, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 28, 2009

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

  • Myanmar: Recovery Continues One Year after Cyclone
  • Presbyterians Again Uphold Sexuality Standard
  • Church Body Demands Release of Sri Lankan Christian Activist
  • India: Missionary Threatened; Church Construction Halted

Myanmar's Hope: One Year of Cyclone Nargis

Mission News Network reports that one year after Cyclone Nargis destroyed much of Myanmar, construction and recovery are ongoing. The category 5 storm hit the Irrawaddy Delta especially hard, creating health disasters and wiping out much of the subsistence life there. Still, says Jacqueline Koster of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), relief groups have found ways around government resistance to aid, using longtime partnerships and cooperation. "CRWRC has supported the rebuilding of 282 houses to date. Obviously, shelter is one of the key priorities after a disaster, especially trying to get things done before the monsoon season begins again, which is actually this month," she said. The group has supported people in 30 villages thanks to outside partnerships, and continues the race to build adequate shelter before another monsoon season hits.

Presbyterians Again Uphold Sexuality Standard

Institute on Religion & Democracy reports that an attempt to remove the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s fidelity and chastity requirements has been defeated. As of April 27, 89 of the denomination’s 173 local presbyteries had voted against the deletion while only 69 had voted in favor. The 2008 PCUSA General Assembly had proposed replacing the “fidelity and chastity” requirement with vaguer language lacking any standard for sexual behavior, opening the door for homosexual and other non-marital relationships. This is the fourth time in 12 years that the denomination has held a vote on the matter. "All traditional Christians can take encouragement that the Presbyterians have held the line on sexual morality," said Alan Wisdom of the IRD.

Church Body Demands Release of Sri Lankan Christian Activist

Christian Post reports that Sri Lankan officials are still holding noted Christian activist Santha Fernando, who was arrested last month. The World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling for his release, as officials have not announced the reason for his arrest in violation of Sri Lanka's constitution. Fernando was detained on his way to speak at an event in India on March 27. The WCC also called for the government to end its military campaign against the Tamil Tigers in order "to ensure safe passage arranged by credible and neutral agencies for those who are trapped in the war zone." It's estimated that 50,000 people remain in the northern territory held by rebel Tamil Tigers, and have been used as human shields against government military action. So far, Sri Lanka's government has refused a ceasefire offered by the rebels.

India: Missionary Threatened; Church Construction Halted

Gospel for Asia (GFA) reports that its missionaries continue to face threats from anti-Christian extremists in India. Several people from an anti-Christian extremist group visited GFA-supported missionary Jayal Ekka’s home Sunday. The men told Ekka that if he didn’t leave the village immediately, they would kill him. Ekka sought counsel from his ministry leader, who is speaking to the local police on Ekka's behalf. So far, Ekka is staying in place and continuing to minister to the people in the church. The same group also threatened Indra Kanher, who is overseeing construction of a new church for his growing congregation, telling him to halt the building due to national elections. Kahner says he already ordered cement for the job, and worries the materials may be ruined before construction can resume.