Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 21, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 21, 2006

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

  • Lack of NAE Stance on Israel-Hezbollah Clash is 'Grave Disappointment,' Baptist Says
  • African Village Free from Contaminated Water
  • Two Chaldean Priests Kidnapped in Baghdad
  • Homosexual Lutheran Pastor Could be Defrocked

Lack of NAE Stance on Israel-Hezbollah Clash is 'Grave Disappointment,' Baptist Says

A Baptist advocate for Jewish evangelism has protested the National Association of Evangelicals’ refusal to take a stand in support of Israel in defending itself from rocket attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas. Baptist Press reports that Jim Sibley, director of Criswell College’s Pasche Institute of Jewish Studies, expressed “grave disappointment” over the NAE stance in a letter to the association’s president, Ted Haggard. “I am writing to urge you to reconsider,” Sibley wrote. Haggard, according to an Associated Press story Aug. 11, had stated that no pro-Israel stance would be taken by the NAE because of the possibility that evangelicals in the Middle East could face a Muslim backlash. Sibley, however, believes, “There are actually two issues that make it appropriate and even imperative to address this conflict. One is the callous disregard for the lives of non-combatants on the part of Hezbollah in this conflict... The second issue is the difference in motivation. Hezbollah is motivated by hatred and anti-Semitism, as the presidents of Iran and Syria have made crystal clear. Israel is acting in self-defense.”

African Village Free from Contaminated Water

In the capital city of Abuja, Nigeria, it’s not unusual to see children huddled just beyond the road’s embankment, crouching beside murky pools of water to scoop bowlfuls into their plastic buckets to carry home. For this village and many others in Africa, these often contaminated ponds and shallow wells are the only source of water. But thanks to a new water well drilled by Operation Blessing, thousands living in Uke village will have access to a clean water source for the first time in 14 years. OB Nigeria also helped villagers construct 22 latrines. "I want to express the gratitude of this community," said Uke Chief Kalledi at the dedication ceremony. "We can't give you anything back. What we never thought or dreamt of, we have now." OB Nigeria will continue to work with local leaders to help equip the Uke people.

Two Chaldean Priests Kidnapped in Baghdad

Iraqi church leaders issued appeals today for the release of a Chaldean Catholic priest kidnapped in southeast Baghdad yesterday morning. Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako said Father Saad Sirop of St. Jacob parish in Baghdad’s Doura district was on his way home from celebrating mass at St. Jacob church at about 6:30 a.m. when his car was stopped by three armed men with masks who forced him into their car. “I think that there are two reasons these kidnappings are taking place,” Sako told Compass Direct News. “The first reason is money. But the second reason is that they want to push Christians out of Iraq.” Sirop is the second Chaldean Catholic priest to be kidnapped in Baghdad this month. According to Sako, Father Raad Kashan of Baghdad’s Battawin district was also abducted by a group seeking ransom almost two weeks ago. The priest managed to escape after three days in captivity by promising to return to his captors with funds for his release.

Homosexual Lutheran Pastor Could be Defrocked

AgapePress reports a homosexual pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) could be defrocked after revealing that he's in a long-term relationship with another man. Rev. Bradley Schmeling of St. John's Lutheran Church in Atlanta had revealed he was homosexual when he became pastor six years ago, but he was single at the time. The denomination only bans sexually-active homosexuals from becoming ministers. Schmeling said he had promised Bishop Ronald Warren that he would come forward if he entered into a relationship, which he did after spending two years with his boyfriend, Darin Easler, who is a former ELCA pastor. Warren asked the pastor to resign, which he refused to do, so the bishop has asked a disciplinary committee to decide whether they should revoke Schmeling's clergy credentials. A pro-homosexual group within the denomination reports that the St. John's congregation and church council are standing behind Schmeling and Easler, and that the church "held a party" when they announced their commitment to their homosexual relationship.