Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 28, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 28, 2007

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

In today's edition:

Christians Under Siege in Indian State
Grief Dampens Celebrations as Christians Pray for Loved Ones Lost in Iraqi Exodus
'In God' Returning to $1 Coin Prominence
Egyptian Government Compensates Christians for Property Damaged in Sectarian Attacks

Christians Under Siege in Indian State

CNSNews.com reports three days of violence against Christians in India have raised fears that the recent election victory of a Hindu hardliner in India's most-developed state may be prompting other activists to turn on non-Hindu minorities. A curfew has been imposed in a remote part of eastern Orissa state after clashes over the Christmas holiday that reportedly left at least one and possibly three people dead.Up to 12 churches and dozens of homes of Christians were ransacked or torched, state officials and Christian groups reported. India is predominantly Hindu, although the affected district has a population of more than 100,000 Christians out of a total of 650,000 people. Christian and Hindu organizations blamed each other for sparking the latest violence.

Grief Dampens Celebrations as Christians Pray for Loved Ones Lost in Iraqi Exodus

Sorrow haunted the face of the Iraqi mother as she led her two small sons into a heavily guarded Baghdad church for Christmas Mass. Making the sign of the cross, Times Online reported that Maida Moshy, 32, slipped into an empty pew to listen to the service, held during the afternoon of Christmas Eve, because midnight is considered too dangerous. “I feel sad when I remember what Christmas used to be like with my large family,” Times Online reported Moshy said with a sigh. Years of violence since the war prompted six of her ten siblings to leave Iraq or move to the safer Kurdish north, while four of her husband’s five brothers and his sister have also fled. “I want my relatives to return because I hate being alone at Christmas,” Times Online reported Moshy said. “Without them I feel like a Christmas tree with no decorations.” Times Online reported that services once attracting thousands of worshipers to celebrate into the early hours of Christmas Day, now struggle to attract enough people to fill half the pews, and barely last 60 minutes. A drop in the violence over the past six months has failed to boost attendance, with Christians saying that there are fewer people visiting the scattering of churches in Baghdad this Christmas than in 2006. That’s because of the continuing fear of violence and because so many families have moved abroad.

'In God' Returning to $1 Coin Prominence

Presidential one dollar coins are the only U.S. coins currently being issued by the United States Mint that have the inscription "In God We Trust" along the edge, but public pressure soon may send the motto back to the front or back of the coins. Baptist Press reports legislation introduced by Sens. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., and Robert Byrd, D.-W.Va., that would return "In God We Trust" to a more visible location is awaiting President Bush's signature. The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 was meant to honor the nation's presidents by issuing $1 circulating coins featuring their images in the order that they served. The first four honoring Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison were issued this year. The coins feature what the mint calls edge-incused inscriptions -- used in other countries -- of the year of minting or issuance, "E Pluribus Unum," "In God We Trust" and the mint mark. The size, weight and metal composition of the presidential coins is identical to that of the Sacagawea Golden Dollar. The 2005 congressional bill mandated the inscriptions be placed along the edge to allow "larger and more dramatic artwork" on the front and back. It was not a decision made by the mint.

Egyptian Government Compensates Christians for Property Damaged in Sectarian Attacks

ASSIST News reports that the government of Egypt has compensated 17 Coptic Christians whose property was damaged last week by angry Muslims. The Associated Press (AP) reported that the incident occurred in a southern Egyptian town recently rife with sectarian conflict. The AP story said that authorities distributed 1,265,000 Egyptian pounds (US$230,000) to 17 owners of cars and shops that were damaged in the town of Isna. This followed reports that two Coptic Christians pulled down the veil of a Muslim woman in a car park, said Magdy Ayoub, the governor of the surrounding Qena province. The AP said that police detained 15 people suspected of taking part in the attacks, but many, if not all, of them were subsequently released. Earlier this month, the AP reported, dozens of Muslims went on a rampage in Isna, located about 350 miles south of Cairo, following rumors that Coptic Christians attempted to abduct and sexually assault a teenage Muslim girl. The rioters hurled stones and smashed windows of a pharmacy, where they suspected the Copts forced the girl to have sex with them. The AP said that police later arrested two Coptic Christians suspected of taking part in the girl's abduction. They were ordered detained for 15 days on charges related to sectarian tensions. The AP reported that Governor Ayoub said prominent Muslim and Christian figures in Isna plan to meet Wednesday in an attempt to reconcile the recent sectarian tension. The AP noted that Muslim-Coptic tensions are commonplace in southern Egypt, mainly over land or church construction disputes.

Comments