Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 23, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 23, 2010

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Iraqi Churches Cancel Christmas Festivities
  • Billy Graham Says He Would 'Pray More, Travel Less'
  • NIV 2011 Released in Digital Format
  • Hospital Stripped of Catholic Affiliation after In-House Abortion

Iraqi Churches Cancel Christmas Festivities

Extremists won a partial victory in Iraq on Wednesday as Iraqi Christians called off Christmas festivities in light of recent threats. The Associated Press reports that church officials in the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul, the southern city of Basra and in the capital confirmed they will not put up Christmas decorations or hold evening Mass and have urged worshippers to refrain from decorating their homes. "Nobody can ignore the threats of al-Qaida against Iraqi Christians," said Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako in Kirkuk. "We cannot find a single source of joy that makes us celebrate. The situation of the Christians is bleak." Christians in Iraq have been laying low since Oct. 31, when gunmen linked to al Qaeda stormed a church in Baghdad. Fifty-eight people, most of them parishioners, died in the attack.

Billy Graham Says He Would 'Pray More, Travel Less'

Billy Graham granted his first interview in several years Dec. 20, telling Fox News' Greta Van Susteren that if he could do it over again, he would spend less time traveling and more time in meditation and prayer. The renowned evangelist, now 92, spoke to Van Susteren just before meeting President George W. Bush and his wife Laura in Charlotte, N.C. If Graham had the opportunity to live his life over again, he said there are things he would do differently. "I would study more. I would pray more, travel less, take less speaking engagements. I took too many of them in too many places around the world," he said, according to Baptist Press. "If I had it to do over again, I'd spend more time in meditation and prayer and just telling the Lord how much I love Him and adore Him and [am] looking forward the time we're going to spend together for eternity."

NIV 2011 Released in Digital Format

Zondervan has launched the first product featuring the updated New International Version of the Bible (NIV) -- a digital eBook of the bestselling translation. The digital release marks the first time that a new Bible translation has launched in a digital format prior to publication in a print format. "With the updated NIV complete and consumers enthusiastically awaiting its arrival, we wanted to make it available as soon as possible," said Moe Girkins, president and CEO of Zondervan. Print products featuring the updated NIV are scheduled for release in March 2011. As a Christmas gift, the publisher says they will donate a New Testament of a new NIV-like Hindi translation through Biblica for every digital copy bought until January 4. The NIV update was completed in the fall of 2010 after years of rigorous translation work by the Committee on Bible Translation. The 2010 NIV will replace the 1984 version as well as the controversial TNIV.

Hospital Stripped of Catholic Affiliation after In-House Abortion

The Christian Post reports that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Ariz., stripped St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center of its Catholic affiliation Tuesday after learning that the hospital performed an in-house abortion. The Christian Post reports that medical staff at the hospital terminated an 11-week pregnancy in 2009, allegedly performed because the woman was at risk of death. "In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld," announced Bishop Thomas Olmsted at Tuesday's press conference. St. Joseph's president, Linda Hunt, defended the hospital's actions in a statement, saying the abortion was necessary to save the mother's life. The hospital's ethics team concluded the pregnancy could be ended under the church's ethical directives because "the goal was not to end the pregnancy but save the mother's life," hospital officials stated.