Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 19, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 19, 2008

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

  • Rick Warren to Deliver Invocation at Obama's Inauguration
  • Indonesian Village to be Rebuilt Following Islamic Rampage
  • Evangelicals Praise Cizik's Role in Shaping Broad Agenda
  • Orissa's Persecuted Christian Get Some Relief

Rick Warren to Deliver Invocation at Obama's Inauguration

CNN reports that megachurch pastor Rick Warren will deliver the invocation prayer at President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. Obama's pick has generated controversy from pro-choice and gay marriage supporters, who say there is "no substantive difference" between Warren and Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who fervently opposed Obama during the election cycle. Obama defended his choice, saying Warren represents one of "a wide range of viewpoints that are presented" at the inauguration. Warren, pastor of Saddleback megachurch and author of the best-seller "The Purpose Driven Life," has been open about his policy disagreements with Obama while maintaining a friendship with him.

Indonesian Village to be Rebuilt Following Islamic Rampage

Compass Direct News reports that government officials in Central Maluku, Indonesia, yesterday promised to reconstruct before Christmas two churches and a number of houses set ablaze last week during sectarian rioting in Letwaru village, Masohi district. The promises came after hundreds of activists from a local youth organization protested in the streets of nearby Ambon on Dec. 15, holding these officials responsible for failing to maintain law and order, local media reported. Allegations against a Christian schoolteacher accused of making an anti-Islamic comment also promoted 500 protestors to gather outside the education agency office and police headquarters on Dec. 9, and the protest quickly escalated into a full-scale riot. Enraged Muslims destroyed 69 buildings, including two churches, 42 homes owned by Christians, four shops and a village hall. They also inadvertently struck 16 homes owned by Muslims.

Evangelicals Praise Cizik's Role in Shaping Broad Agenda

The Christian Post reports that dozens of evangelical leaders signed a letter to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) president in praise of Cizik's role in broadening the "Christian moral agenda" that NAE supports. "[W]e release this letter in order to show our deep gratitude for Richard’s 28 years of leadership at the NAE, in which he has had a guiding hand in shaping a broad Christian moral agenda that has helped define American Evangelicals’ public witness," the leaders stated in the letter. Cizik resigned last week after giving a controversial NPR interview in which he expressed his changing views on same-sex civil unions. He championed the causes of creation care, global warming and global poverty alongside abortion and marriage during his time with NAE.

Orissa's Persecuted Christian Get Some Relief

The Baptist Press reports that about 2,100 Christian families driven from their homes in India's Orissa state are receiving badly needed relief supplies from Southern Baptists' world hunger and general relief funds. Tens of thousands of Christians have been forced from their homes since a Hindu swami and four of his followers were murdered in late August. Though Maoist insurgents took credit for the killing, Hindu extremists blamed Christians and mounted mob attacks against them. Dozens of people have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands of homes, churches and businesses have been burned. Four men, one of them "a hardcore Maoist," were arrested for the swami's murder in early December, according to news reports. The Christians receiving the aid have fled to camps operated by the government, police officials and private groups.