Religion Today Summaries - August 10, 2011

Religion Today

Religion Today Summaries - August 10, 2011


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

Prison Fellowship Lays Off 72, Cites Economy
Feeling Africa's Drought in Kenya and in the U.S.
New Pew Forum Report Analyzes Religious Restrictions
Muslim Radicals Kill 10 Christians in Nigeria



Prison Fellowship Lays Off 72, Cites Economy

Religion News Service reports that Prison Fellowship, a prominent evangelical ministry to inmates, has laid off dozens of employees, citing the faltering economy. A total of 72 staffers were let go as part of a restructuring that included new leaders as of July 18. Jim Liske, a former pastor in Michigan, began as CEO and Garland Hunt, a former Atlanta pastor, is now president. "Like many nonprofits in the wake of this economy, Prison Fellowship has had to deal with shrinking resources and rising costs," said Frank Lofaro, executive vice president of the ministry. The ministry was founded in 1976 by ex-convict and Nixon aide Chuck Colson. Lofaro declined to disclose the current total number of Prison Fellowship staffers. "Prison Fellowship is not focusing on its recent staff reductions but rather on the new season it is embarking on for the ministry," Lofaro said in a statement. The ministry, which turns 35 this month (August), works with about 8,500 churches and 14,000 volunteers to support prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families.

Feeling Africa's Drought in Kenya and in the U.S.

ASSIST News Service (http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2011/s11080042.htm) reports that before coming to the U.S., Dahir Adan and his immediate family were in Kenya’s sprawling Dadaab refugee camps for 17 years. Designed for 90,000 people, the camps’ population has quadrupled to 420,000 and continues to grow by 1,500 people daily as people stream in from famine-stricken southern Somalia. Adan, 30, and his wife Fartun Muhumed, 26, are refugees from Somalia, resettled to the U.S. in February 2010 by Church World Service and Community Immigration and Refugee Services of Ohio. They now live in Columbus, with their four small children, but they worry for their drought-afflicted relatives back home in the Horn of Africa. “They have no shelter, no food, no clothes,” Fartun says. “In Somalia they depended on livestock and all the livestock they had perished due to the severe drought.” The UNHCR reports that some 116,000 Somali refugees have arrived in Dadaab so far this year. About 76,000 of them arrived in Dadaab in the last two months alone. Africa's drought affects more than 10 million people across Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

New Pew Forum Report Analyzes Religious Restrictions

According to a Religion News Service release, more than 2.2 billion people, nearly a third (32%) of the world's total population of 6.9 billion, live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially between mid-2006 and mid-2009. The data is from a new study on global restrictions on religion released by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. Only about 1% of the world's population lives in countries where government restrictions or social hostilities declined. In general, most of the countries that experienced substantial increases in government restrictions or social hostilities involving religion already had high or very high levels of restrictions or hostilities. By contrast, nearly half of the countries that had substantial decreases in restrictions or hostilities already scored low. This suggests that there may be a gradual polarization taking place in which countries that are relatively high in religious restrictions are becoming more restrictive, while those that are relatively low are becoming less restrictive.

Muslim Radicals Kill 10 Christians in Nigeria

According to ASSIST News Serice (http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2011/s11080045.htm), members of a radical Islamic group, Boko Haram, have killed at least ten Christians in Maiduguri, Nigeria over the past two months in what one Christian leader is calling a “silent killing” of Christians. In an interview with International Christian Concern, an anonymous local church leader explained, “Boko Haram is seeking to eliminate Christianity because they want Islamic (Sharia) law. They don’t want to see anything Christian in the northern states [of Nigeria]. That is why churches are being persecuted and Muslims who don’t follow the [hardline teachings of] Boko Haram are also persecuted.” ICC says Boko Haram is close to achieving its goal of eliminating Christianity from Maiduguri. In its latest report on the situation, ICC said: “Most of the Christians have fled the city in fear of further attacks by the Islamists. Of the churches that remain, some have felt compelled to suspend their services to protect their congregations.” The Nigerian government, which has also been attacked by Boko Haram, deployed security forces to quell the violence, but came under sharp criticism from human rights groups for excessive use of force and the indiscriminate killing of civilians.

 

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