Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 9, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 9, 2006

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

  • Civil War Scare Provokes Christians to Prayer in Lebanon
  • Papal Visit Boosts Turkey’s Beleaguered Catholics
  • Turkey’s Top Religious Official Criticizes Pope
  • State So. Baptist Conventions Urge Ministry in Schools, not ‘Exit Strategy’

Civil War Scare Provokes Christians to Prayer in Lebanon

On Dec. 4, gunmen shot and killed a 20-year-old man in downtown Beirut and injured at least four other demonstrators, according to a SAT-7 release. Many Lebanese fear the shooting may escalate the violence. Downtown Beirut is a scene of thousands of pro-Syria and pro-Hezbollah demonstrators who have camped out and vow not to leave until the current western-backed government steps down. These events have created a widespread sense of fear that Lebanon could soon become embroiled in a civil war. "Each day our staff comes to the studio not knowing if something might erupt and we won’t be able to return home," said Naji Daoud, SAT-7’s Lebanon country director. "Last week we had to cancel a day of filming on our women’s program because of the demonstrations. We also had a guest coming from Syria for another program, but she called to tell us she would not come to Lebanon because of the situation. A special celebration for our Year of the Family campaign set for Dec. 8 was cancelled. Leaders of The Bible Society of Lebanon, the hosts of the event, felt that the current situation was too troubling and unpredictable to invite guests and media to attend." Sunday’s killing has raised the already high level of concern within Lebanon. "The killing of that young man has changed the atmosphere. We want stability, but right now there is so much uncertainty," said Daoud.

Papal Visit Boosts Turkey’s Beleaguered Catholics

In a year that saw eight violent attacks on Christians in Turkey and widespread uproar over a papal speech deemed derogatory to Islam, many Turkish Catholics worried that Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to their homeland last week could only go badly. But Compass Direct News reports that church leaders came away with new hope for their community to achieve legal status, and Benedict’s unexpectedly positive encounter may significantly aid Turkish Catholics and other Christian minorities in overcoming their social stigma. “To tell you the truth, before [the visit] there was some anxiety,” said Istanbul Bishop Louis Pelatre, whose diocese hosted the Roman pontiff for two days. “But it was far more positive than we had even hoped.”

Turkey’s Top Religious Official Criticizes Pope

According to Compass Direct News, Ankara’s top government religious official accused Pope Benedict XVI earlier this week of “doing injustice to Turkey” by declaring after his historic visit to Turkey last week that the country’s Catholics live under difficult conditions. In an interview with the semi-official Anatolian News Agency published in today’s liberal Radikal newspaper, Director of Religious Affairs Ali Bardakoglu complained that the problems of Turkey’s religious minorities were exaggerated during the pope’s visit. In an address from Rome on Sunday, Benedict noted that the “small flock” of Catholics in Turkey “live in conditions that are not easy.” His gentle but direct remark echoed similar comments sprinkled throughout his four days of public statements while in Turkey.

State So. Baptist Conventions Urge Ministry in Schools, not ‘Exit Strategy’

Southern Baptists in most state conventions this fall relied on committees to work behind the scenes to formulate resolutions to represent their views on moral and doctrinal issues. According to Baptist Press, dominating the agenda were issues that have been on the minds of messengers to the annual Southern Baptist Convention in recent years. At least nine of the 41 state conventions stated some form of expectation that parents take responsibility for the education of their children and pledged support for Christians working and volunteering in public schools. A different message calling on Southern Baptists to abandon government-operated schools was rejected in those states where the idea was floated, never making it past the committees charged with drafting statements for messengers to consider. In the state conventions of California, South Carolina, Colorado, the Dakotas, Indiana and Iowa, resolutions affirmed the vocational calling of Christians working and volunteering in public schools, praying for them to be “salt and light” in that setting. Northwest Baptists encouraged teaching a biblical worldview and California Baptists added an amendment encouraging forming Christian clubs under equal access law. Michigan Baptists encouraged Southern Baptists to engage public education to influence the culture, rather than running from it. Many of the resolutions committees, including those in Florida, Virginia, California and Kentucky, refused to advance a call for Southern Baptists to develop an “exit strategy” for removing their children from public schools.