Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 31, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 31, 2006

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

  • Christian Suggested Conversion to Islam to Win Newsmen's Release
  • Religion Called a Powerful Force for Peace
  • Pakistani Christian Teen Barely Escapes Death at the Hands of Her Own Family
  • Georgetown Ousts Evangelical Groups

Christian Suggested Conversion to Islam to Win Newsmen's Release

AgapePress reports a Christian minister who helped free two Western journalists abducted in Gaza says his team of negotiators suggested to the kidnappers that the captives convert to Islam as part of efforts to secure their release. Palestinian militants freed Fox News correspondent Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig on Sunday after two weeks of captivity during which they were blindfolded, tied in painful positions, and forced at gunpoint to say on a video they had converted to Islam. Canon Andrew White, chief executive of the London-based Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East, said the journalists' conversion to Islam allowed the kidnappers to save face. White says, "I have to admit the notion of trying to get them to say very publicly that they would convert was part of our suggestion of a way out." Earlier Centanni told Fox News that converting to Islam at their captors' insistence "was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns."

Religion Called a Powerful Force for Peace

While many view religion as "one of the chief bad guys" behind current conflicts, religions can be "incredible tools" for peace, said Maryann Cusimano Love, a professor of politics at The Catholic University of America. "Religion is an important motivator," she said. "It is an important vocalizer of symbols, of language, of values, in ways that secular institutions find difficult to do. And that can be used for good or evil." Cusimano Love was one of three panelists in a round-table discussion convened by Catholic News Service Aug. 21 to look at terrorism and war and peace issues five years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. "There's one clearly recognized role (in the struggle against terrorism) that the Protestant and Catholic churches would have in the church community," Father Langan, also a panelist, said. "And that would be to teach the intrinsic wrongness of terrorism and the immorality of using terrorist techniques and tactics." He said it is then tempting to demand that Muslim leaders do the same.

Pakistani Christian Teen Barely Escapes Death at the Hands of Her Own Family

Diana grew up in a strict Islamic family in Pakistan. According to Voice of the Martyrs, her life was pretty typical until she met a girl named Mary who was a Christian. Now Diana is also a Christian and on the run. When Diana's family learned that she had become a Christian, they repeatedly beat her and insisted she return to Islam. But Diana refused. She was then forced to a local canal where her uncle put a pistol to her head and gave her one last chance to return to Islam. Diana replied, "You can kill me if you want. I will not leave Christ." It was then that Diana's uncle noticed an extremely poisonous black cobra swimming in the canal. Believing he could escape any prosecution for his niece's death, he threw her into the path of the cobra. He also knew she could not swim. Diana miraculously escaped from the canal and is in hiding today. She is a new Christian but has already learned what it means to suffer for Christ. She recently told The Voice of the Martyrs, "Jesus was crucified for us. Can we not endure some of the same for Him?"

Georgetown Ousts Evangelical Groups

The Protestant chaplain at Georgetown University notified six evangelical groups via letter that they may no longer be involved in any way with Georgetown students, effective immediately. "Blessings and may God's peace be upon you!" begins the letter from Constance Wheeler before explaining that "It's God's will" the ministries no longer hold any activity or presence on campus. Christianity Today reports the letter also demands all websites linking the ministries to a presence at Georgetown University will need to be modified to reflect the terminated relationship. It continues: "While we realize this comes as a great disappointment, please know we are moving forward with this decision only after much dialogue with the Lord. We have enjoyed working with your ministries in various capacities over the years and will always keep your ministry in our prayers." "With this restructuring has come a desire in the Protestant chaplaincy to build the ministry from within Georgetown and its Protestant student leaders rather than rely on outside groups or fellowships," Erik Smulson told various news sources.

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