Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 14, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 14, 2006

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

  • Another Colorado Pastor Quits over Allegations of Homosexual Activity
  • New Target for Islamists in Iraq: Assyrian University Students
  • Vatican Examining Tomb Believed to Hold Apostle Paul
  • Kidnapped Iraqi Clergyman Released after Six Days

Another Colorado Pastor Quits over Allegations of Homosexual Activity

For the second time in as many months, the founding pastor of a Colorado church has resigned over allegations of homosexual involvement, AgapePress reports. First it was prominent evangelical and mega-church leader Ted Haggard, who resigned after a male prostitute said they had had sex for years. Now, on Sunday, the founding pastor of Grace Chapel in Englewood told his congregation in a videotaped message that he had engaged in homosexual sex and was stepping down. According to Associated Press, 54-year-old Paul Barnes, who has led Grace Chapel for 28 years, told his congregation that he has struggled with homosexuality since childhood and often "cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away." Rev. H.B. London heads up the pastoral ministry of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family. He says his staff gets hundreds of phone calls from pastors struggling with the kind of sins that caused the downfall of Haggard and Barnes. London explains that pastors fall into sin for three reasons: unresolved conflicts at home, a lack of accountability, and a lack of intimacy with God. He says that while pastors face unusual pressures, 97 percent of them "do not fail morally and do their best to live above reproach."

New Target for Islamists in Iraq: Assyrian University Students

An unidentified Islamic group has placed flyers at the Student Union at Mosul University which contained messages directed at Assyrian (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) students and were placed in areas where Assyrian students congregate. According to ASSIST News Service, witnesses report that University security men observed the men placing the flyers but did not intervene. According to the Assyrian International News Agency, the flyers warned the Christian Assyrian students that “in cases where non-Muslims do not conform to wearing the Hijab [head cover for women] and are not conservative with their attire in accordance with the Islamic way, the violators will have the Sharia and the Islamic Law applied to them.” The story went on to say, “With kidnapping of Assyrian clergy now occurring on wide scale, Assyrian Community leaders have expressed concern that targeting students is a new phase of harassment and intimidation of the Assyrian community by the Islamists.”

Vatican Examining Tomb Believed to Hold Apostle Paul

A white marble sarcophagus believed to be the final resting place of the apostle Paul has been unearthed from beneath the altar of Rome's second-largest basilica after centuries hidden from view, but those curious about its contents will have to wait still longer. AgapePress that Vatican experts say they want to examine it more closely before possibly looking inside. According to tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome in the first century during the persecution of early Christians by Roman emperors. Popular belief holds that bone fragments from his head are in another Rome basilica, St. John Lateran, with his other remains inside the sarcophagus. The coffin, which was buried under the main altar of St. Paul's Outside the Walls Basilica, has been the subject of an extended excavation that began in 2002 and ended last month.

Kidnapped Iraqi Clergyman Released after Six Days

Compass Direct News reports that a Chaldean priest kidnapped in front of his Baghdad home last week was released Sunday (December 10), the Chaldean Patriarchate has reported on its official website. Father Samy Abdulahad Al-Raiys was freed six days after he had been abducted in Baghdad’s Al-Sinaa street near the University of Technology while driving to his parish. “It is the fifth priest kidnapped, and two were killed in Mosul,” commented one Baghdad priest who requested anonymity. “So many of us are frightened. We are asking, ‘Who will be the next?’”