Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 11, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 11, 2009

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

  • Lutheran Groups Spar over Inclusion of Gay Pastors
  • Principal, Coach Face Criminal Charges for Prayer at Luncheon
  • International Community Urged to Bring Change to Burma
  • Pakistani Police 'Torture, Kill' Christian Man

Lutheran Groups Spar over Inclusion of Gay Pastors

The Minnesota Independent reports that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will be the next denomination to address the role GLBT pastors and leaders. Thousands of ELCA leaders will meet August 17 in Minneapolis to decide whether openly gay pastors in committed relationships may serve in the pulpit. Leaders will also vote on a "social statement" that would "soften" the church's position on homosexuality. Both supporters and detractors have been vocal. “The proposals are in fact no compromise," conservative group CORE wrote in a letter to delegates. “They clearly imply that same-sex blessings and the ordination and rostering of homosexual persons in committed relationships are acceptable within the ELCA. The teaching of the church will be changed.”

Principal, Coach Face Criminal Charges for Prayer at Luncheon

Christian News Wire reports that a high school principal and athletic director now face criminal contempt charges for a prayer offered at a field house luncheon. Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman offered a prayer to bless the meal served to consenting adults at the appreciation luncheon, the ACLU alleges. Based on the ACLU's allegations, U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers has now initiated criminal contempt proceedings and has referred Lay and Freeman to the United States Attorney's office for prosecution. The men allegedly violated a broader injunction the ACLU forced into place at the school that essentially prohibits bans all employees from engaging in prayer or religious activities, whether before, during, or after school hours.

International Community Urged to Bring Change to Burma

Christian Today reports that a human rights organization marked the anniversary of Burma's violent suppression of pro-democracy protests with pleas to the international community. Several thousand demonstrators, many of them students, died when Burma's military junta squashed the movement on August 8, 1988. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) accused the regime of perpetuating “gross violations” of human rights. “It is essential that we do not simply remember this anniversary as yet another in Burma’s tragic history of brutal oppression,” said CSW’s East Asia team leader Benedict Rogers. More than 2,000 political prisoners, including Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, remain in prison in the country.

Pakistani Police 'Torture, Kill' Christian Man

Worthy News reports that police tortured a Christian man to death on false charges of bootlegging, his family said Thursday. Shafiq Masih, 46, was detained on suspicion of bootlegging in Sargodha, Punjab province, even though Christians are issued permits to keep liquor and drink alcoholic beverages. Witnesses of the July 12 incident said police beat Masih "in such a ruthless manner that skin of his feet was devoured and bleeding." Masih was eventually admitted to Sargodha's District Headquarters Hospital with serious injuries, and died at the hospital. One Christian resident, Salamat Masih, told Worthy News that police paid Masih's three heirs several thousand dollars on the condition that they not insist on an autopsy or take legal action.