Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 29, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 29, 2006

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

  • Somalia Conflict Sparks East Africa Terror Fears

  • Will 'Fairness Doctrine' be Reinstated?

  • Iran Pulls Christianity into Nuclear Response

  • Bird Flu Strike Could Force Churches to Close

Somalia Conflict Sparks East Africa Terror Fears reports that Islamic radicals wanting to bring international pressure to bear on the fighting in Somalia -- where Ethiopian forces are trouncing Islamists -- may target Western facilities in East Africa for suicide bombings, a U.S.-based Somali campaigner warned Wednesday. Terrorists hoped such attacks would "engulf the whole region" and increase the likelihood that bodies like the Arab League and European Union would intervene and cut short the rout of the Islamists, said Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center. Jamal said by phone from Minnesota that many Somalis desperate for stability after 16 years of conflict had welcomed the arrival of the Islamists known as the Islamic Court Union (ICU) when they seized control of Mogadishu last June by ousting an alliance of warlords and businessmen. He said the ICU, not all of whose members were extremists, had initially declared itself willing to hold peace talks with Somalia's embattled interim authority. But the opportunity to restore order and reach agreement with the TFG had been lost, Jamal said, when ICU radicals connected to global terror networks started to push an agenda of enforcing Islamic law (shari'a) and promoting jihad.

Will 'Fairness Doctrine' be Reinstated?

AgapePress reports that a long-time conservative political activist and commentator warns Democrats in the new 110th Congress will attempt to reinstate the "Fairness Doctrine." That 1949 Federal Communications Commission regulation required broadcast licensees to provide equal time to opponents when discussing controversial issues. Paul Weyrich of the Washington, DC-based Free Congress Foundation says if the regulation is re-enacted, 1,100 local conservative talk-show hosts will be off the air. "You can't run a station like that," Weyrich insists. "That's why we didn't have Rush Limbaugh until 1988." According to Weyrich, deregulation -- which came in 1987 -- opened the door to conservative talk radio. "Talk radio is one of the most important tools that we have for getting the word out," he says, "and I don't think we use it nearly enough." New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has about 35 co-sponsors for a measure that would reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.

Iran Pulls Christianity into Nuclear Response

The Christian Post reports that the president of Iran has sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI regarding the United Nation’s decision to impose sanction on the country – the latest in a series of contacts with Christianity by the conservative Muslim country. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter via his Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to Pope Benedict on Wednesday about the U.N. Security Council’s decision to enact sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, reported The Associated Press. The Vatican did not release details about the letter, but Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said the focus was on the Security Council’s vote to approve sanctions against Tehran. The United Nations Security Council on Christmas Eve decided to impose a set of sanctions against Iran in response to its uranium-enrichment activities. The Pope “reaffirmed the role that the Holy See intends to carry out for world peace, not as a political authority but as a religious and moral one.

Bird Flu Strike Could Force Churches to Close

According to ASSIST News Service, while there are plenty of threats facing people in this world today, one of the most dire threats is getting the cold shoulder from the Christian community. That threat is an avian flu pandemic. The avian flu, commonly known as the Bird Flu, is brewing in the bodies of millions of birds around the world right now, and breaking through biological barriers to kill people in places like Vietnam, Indonesia and Egypt. “As Christians, we are rather casual and careless about the problem,” said Christian journalist Donald L. Hughes, producer of a new documentary called, “The Bird Flu Plague,” released by Theatron Films. This abdication of responsibility is a sad thing, according to Hughes, because the Bird Flu has the potential to explode overnight and kill millions of people in a very short time. “If individual Christians and local churches were prepared, we could do much to help alleviate suffering,” he said. But many Christians are cynical about the Bird Flu threat, Hughes said. “They equate it to the Y2K thing, think it’s some kind of liberal plot, or believe God will spare them just because they’re Christians." Local officials are likely to use quarantine laws to inhibit spread of the disease, and that means churches, along with stores, offices and factories, will be told to close. Hughes fears that local churches will wake up to the threat too late.