Religion Today Summaries - April 4, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 4, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

Pakistani Christians Suffer after U.S. Pastor Burns Koran

Egypt Relief Focuses on Struggling Families

Beijing Refuses UN Demands on Release of Christian Activist

Federal Court Allows Student to Hand-out Christian Fliers

 

Pakistani Christians Suffer after U.S. Pastor Burns Koran

After a church in Pakistan was attacked one week ago, Christians are wondering if the assault was retaliation for Pastor Terry Jones' Koran burning in the United States. Christian Today reports that Jones, who backed off plans to burn a Koran last fall after international media attention, last month held a mock trial that found the Koran "guilty." After the verdict, the Korean was "executed" and burned. The Koran burning prompted protests by Muslims in Pakistan in which they burned the American flag and shouted slogans against the U.S. Father Yousaf, pastor of the attacked St. Thomas church in Wah Cantt, said, “This is a reaction of the desecration of the Koran in Florida. Although the Catholic Church has officially condemned the incident and we have also displayed a banner outside the church condemning the incident, still the innocent people are facing the consequences.”

Egypt Relief Focuses on Struggling Families

Turmoil in Egypt that began Jan. 25 has left thousands of families struggling to make ends meet, and Southern Baptists are responding to the need through their World Hunger Fund. Baptist Press reports that teams are working with humanitarian partners in Egypt to distribute food, clothing and medicine to families struck particularly hard by the soaring cost of provisions. Small business loans also are being offered to Egyptians facing job loss or having trouble staying afloat in a floundering tourism industry and suffering economy. "The Middle East has experienced what has been described as a political earthquake that has shattered people's lives, and that 'earthquake' has affected Egyptians in ways that are difficult to deal with," said Abraham Shepherd, who with his wife Grace directs work in the Middle East for Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization.

Beijing Refuses UN Demands on Release of Christian Activist

ChinaAid that Beijing authorities last week refused to accept the demand from a United Nations organization on releasing the prominent human rights activist Gao Zhisheng. Zhisheng has been under secret detention by the Chinese authorities for over two years. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention subordinate to the United Nations Council on Human Rights recently published a report demanding that China release Gao. The investigation report of this group has concluded that China’s detention of Gao Zhisheng has violated the international law and the Chinese law. Last fall, Gao's wife released a letter he had smuggled out detailing his torture at the hands of authorities.

Federal Court Allows Student to Hand-out Christian Fliers

World News Service reports that an elementary student and her mother will be allowed to distribute church-related fliers at an elementary school in Sherwood, Ark., while their court case proceeds. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) sued the Pulaski County Special School District last spring after the district told the family the fliers could not be distributed because they were advertising ”church-related” activities. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division, issued a preliminary injunction that says the student is likely to win the case on First Amendment grounds. The court wrote that school officials “seem to permit almost any organization, with the exception of churches, to circulate material. Indeed, the record clearly shows that defendants’ regulations, as presently enforced, merely stamp out certain viewpoint-based speech.”

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