Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 7, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 7, 2009

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

  • Tajikistani Church Tried for Meeting in Home
  • Sluggish World Economy Affecting Missions
  • Christian Group to Pay Off $10K in Strangers' Parking Tickets
  • NIH Approves 13 New Stem Cell Lines

Tajikistani Church Tried for Meeting in Home

Mission News Network reports that a relatively new religion law in Tajikistan has hamstrung an active Baptist church in the country. On Oct. 9, officials raided a Friday night meeting the church held in a private held. As a result, church leaders were called to court for meeting without state registration. The court banned the church, simply stating that "Residential houses and premises shall not be used in detriment to the interests of the state and society." According to Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association, "A lot of this stems from a harsh new religion law that came into force in April of this past year... It basically imposes some pretty tight restrictions." He continued, "We're seeing this tightening up on evangelical churches, and it certainly is troubling to us."

Sluggish World Economy Affecting Missions

Baptist Press reports that Kevin and Jodi Nichols of Mississippi committed their lives to missions nearly two years ago -- but they will be in the U.S. for the foreseeable future. They planned to move to Russia with their four children in January. But in the midst of a rocky economy and shortfalls in missions giving, they won't be going anytime soon. The Nichols family's situation is a snapshot of how a struggling economy impacts lives -- both here and around the globe. Even in South Korea, one of the largest missionary-sending countries in the world, a sluggish U.S. economy has meant fewer sales and less money for local goods. As a result, fewer South Korean missionaries will have enough funds.

Christian Group to Pay Off $10K in Strangers' Parking Tickets

The Associated Press reports that a Christian group in Boise, Idaho, will offer those guilty of traffic violations a special Christmas gift. Last year, the Grace Gift Parable giveaway paid off almost $7,500 in unpaid parking tickets for passerby at City Hall. This year, thanks to area businesses and various churches in Treasure Valley, the group hopes to give away up to $10,000. Organizers plan to gather on Dec. 12 in front of City Hall and see what happens.  Montie Ralstin, Jr., the pastor at Boise Valley Christian Communion, says the event is to help people understand that even though they've made mistakes, forgiveness is available.

NIH Approves 13 New Stem Cell Lines

Religion News Service reports that the National Institutes of Health has approved the first human embryonic stem cell lines for research after President Obama lifted Bush-era bans on such research last March. "In accordance with the guidelines, these stem cell lines were derived from embryos that were donated under ethically sound informed consent processes," said Dr. Francis S. Collins, NIH director, in a Dec. 2 announcement. "More lines are under review now, and we anticipate continuing to expand this list of responsibly derived lines eligible for NIH funding." Eleven of the first 13 lines that were approved were produced at Children's Hospital Boston, and the other two were developed by Rockefeller University in New York.