Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Conservatives Decry Pentagon for Pulling Graham from Event
- Buddhist Extremists in Bangladesh Take Christians Captive
- Most Americans Say Judges Are Anti-Religious, Poll Finds
- Obama and Evangelist Billy Graham Share a Prayer
Conservatives Decry Pentagon for Pulling Graham from Event
Religion News Service reports that conservative Christian leaders blasted the Army's decision to disinvite evangelist Franklin Graham from a Pentagon event on the National Day of Prayer because he has been critical of Islam. Graham, this year's honorary chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, was scheduled to speak at a May 6 event coordinated by the independent task force with the Pentagon chaplain's office. Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, said Army leaders thought it was "problematic" to include Graham in the annual program. "His past comments about Islam are not consistent with the multifaith emphasis and inclusiveness of this event at the Pentagon," Collins said. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said Graham's "deeply held biblical convictions" were not a reason to deny him the speaking opportunity.
Buddhist Extremists in Bangladesh Take Christians Captive
Compass Direct News reports that Buddhist members of an armed rebel group are holding three tribal Christians captive in a pagoda in southeastern Bangladesh. The group severely beat them Pastor Shushil Jibon Talukder, 55; Bimol Kanti Chakma, 50; and Laksmi Bilas Chakma, 40, after kidnapping them on April 16, Christian sources said, in an attempt to force them to return to Buddhism. They are to be kept in the pagoda for 15 to 20 days as punishment for having left the Buddhist religion. After taking the Christians captive, armed Buddhist extremists forced other Christians of Maddha Lemuchari Baptist Church to demolish their church building by their own hands. The sources said Pastor Talukder was bludgeoned nearly to death and had to be taken by wooden stretcher to the pagoda. Regional Sub-district Chairman Sona Ratan Chakma told Compass that the "three renegade Buddhists" are being kept in the pagoda for religious indoctrination.
Most Americans Say Judges Are Anti-Religious, Poll Finds
The Christian Post reports that while more than half of Americans pray daily, they aren't convinced the nation's judges are doing the same thing. According to a Rasmussen Reports poll, 64 percent of Americans believe that judges' rulings are more anti-religious than the Constitution intended. Only one in five believe the rulings have "correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution." The viewpoint changes dramatically depending on religious affiliation, with 87 percent of evangelical Christians saying the rulings have been too anti-religious. However, 51 percent of people who rarely attend religious services believe the rulings have been true to the Constitution. A majority of Americans (60 percent) surveyed by Rasmussen were found to favor having the federal government.
Obama and Evangelist Billy Graham Share a Prayer
The Associated Press reports that evangelist Billy Graham again earned the title "America's Pastor" this weekend, when President Barack Obama visited the preacher at his North Carolina home. The 48-year-old president made the short drive to Montreat from Asheville, where he spent the weekend, to see the 91-year-old Graham and son Franklin, also an evangelist. Graham prayed with the president privately, and gave him two Bibles - one for the president and one for the first lady. Obama was "extraordinarily gratified that he took the time to meet with him," White House spokesman Bill Burton said. Franklin Graham said the president admitted the humbling loneliness of the presidents. "That is a discussion that Mr. Graham has had with previous presidents who realize not only the demands but the loneliness of the job. And they're humbled by that," Ross said. "The only way one can do (the job) properly is to draw on spiritual resources."