Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 14, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 14, 2007

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

  • 3 Killed in Missouri Church Shooting
  • Lutherans Urged Not to Punish Gay Clergy in 'Faithful' Relationships
  • Human and Religious Rights Changes in Vietnam Open Doors
  • Pakistani Christian Leader Vows to Continue Struggling for Minorities' Rights

3 Killed in Missouri Church Shooting

The AP reports that a gunman opened fire in the sanctuary of a southwest Missouri church Sunday, killing three people and wounding several others. About 25 to 50 people, mostly of Micronesian descent, were briefly held hostage at the First Congregational Church of Neosho until the gunman surrendered. The five people wounded by the gunmen were all expected to recover. According to CNN, Kernal Rehobson, 44, who was killed in the shooting, pastored the group for about 15 years. The Micronesian congregation previously met at Rehobson's house. They were renting space from First Congregational while looking for a home of their own. The suspect, described as in his 40s, was being held in the Newton County jail while charges are filed. "This was a tragedy as far as those killed and injured but it could have been a lot worse," Neosho police chief McCracken said. Lyndall Jones, Minister of Music & Youth at Neosho's Northside Baptist Church, located about a mile from First Congregational, told Crosswalk, "There's several hundred [Pacific Islanders] here in Neosho. About 50 were worshipping when this guy (also a Micronesian) came in just shooting with small caliber pistols. We're shocked, of course. Hasn't been a murder commited within the city limits of Neosho since 1994." When asked if there were any prayer rallies or other supportive events scheduled, Jones said, "Well, I'm sure there will be, but I haven't heard it yet."

Lutherans Urged Not to Punish Gay Clergy in 'Faithful' Relationships

The Christian Post reports that the ELCA caused a stir Saturday after controversially deciding not to punish homosexual clergy who are in sexual relationships. At its annual assembly, the ELCA passed by a vote of 538-431 a resolution urging bishops to refrain from disciplining pastors who are in “faithful committed same-gender relationships”. A day earlier, attendees voted down a measure that would have ended a ban on non-celibate gay clergy. Saturday’s vote, however, means those who violate that policy can no longer be tried or punished.

Human and Religious Rights Changes in Vietnam Open Doors

According to Mission Network News, the "Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2007," having survived the Foreign Affairs Committee, may be considered by the House of Representatives. The act focuses on Vietnam's suppression of religious freedom and human rights. Many churches in Vietnam remain unregistered since the government imposes great restrictions on registered churches and their congregations. David Hunt of World Serve says an incredible door has opened into the Vietnam, and they want to move fast. Hunt says their team has been granted formal permission to print 100,000 Bibles in Vietnam, the largest single printing of the Bible since Communists gained power in 1975. Beyond that, Vietnamese Christian leaders are reporting that the country is seeing unprecedented religious freedom from North to South.

Pakistani Christian Leader Vows to Continue Struggling for Minorities' Rights

The Chief of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) has vowed that he will continue struggling for the rights of Pakistani minorities till last drop of his blood, ASSIST News Service reports. Shahbaz Bhatti, the APMA Chief, was optimistic on the turnout of the rally the APMA is staging in Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab on Saturday, August 11. He said he was expecting a huge number of people from the minorities communities including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Parsees at the rally. He said members of the minorities’ communities from as far as Karachi to attend what he called a "historical event" in the history of Pakistan’s religious minorities. People from across Pakistan will come to attend the rally by buses, trains and in the form of caravans, said Bhatti. "The presence of members of all minorities communities at the rally will dispel impression that the APMA is not a representative alliance of all minorities", Bhatti said.