Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
“Compassion Fatigue” No Problem for Kids Pouring Hearts & Resources into Millions of Shoe Box Gifts
Despite the extraordinary amount of suffering our world has endured this year, and the increased burden Americans are feeling to care for their own, kids across the country are demonstrating that they are not tired of giving. Through Operation Christmas Child (OCC) — the world’s largest Christmas project — U.S. kids, even children who suffered extreme personal loss in this year’s hurricanes, are helping send a powerful message of hope to hurting children worldwide. “I hope the boy who gets my shoe box gift feels as good as I did when people were nice to me after Hurricane Katrina,” said 7-year-old Drew Olsen of Gautier, Miss., whose family lost nearly everything in the storm. One thing the Olsen family did not lose was their “spirit of giving.” The Olsens are participating in OCC, hand-packing shoe boxes with toys, necessity items, school supplies, and notes of encouragement for needy children overseas. THIS YEAR: Operation Christmas Child will hand-deliver more than 7 million gift-filled shoe boxes to children in some 90 countries suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine, and poverty. RIGHT NOW: Millions of children, families, churches, schools, and civic organizations are joining Drew and his family in Operation Christmas Child.
Hopes for Equality Delayed Yet Again for Indian Dalit Christians
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Dalit Christians in India have had their hopes for equality delayed yet again after a Supreme Court hearing on November 28, despite considerable political support for a change in the law being expressed at a large-scale rally just two days earlier. The Supreme Court case, brought by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had sought to remove decades of discrimination from Dalits who embrace Christianity, but has now been adjourned to the third week in February. The Supreme Court announced it would examine the constitutional validity of current legislation, which deprives Dalits who convert to Christianity or Islam of the rights afforded to Dalits of Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh background. The Mishra Commission had been appointed by the Government to investigate this issue, but the Supreme Court said it would not link the findings of the Commission with the litigation before the court. Dr Joseph D'Souza, AICC President, said: "The time for waiting is over - 50 years is long enough. We as Christians need to stand up and act. And this rally is the beginning of our public agitation and movement."
Evangelist Luis Palau Regrets Remarks on Religious Freedom in China
Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews
An American evangelist has apologized for saying during a recent visit to China that the religious freedom situation there was better than expected, and for saying that "underground" Christians should register with church associations set up by the communist government. Luis Palau, an Oregon-based evangelist, paid a week-long visit to China earlier this month, his fifth to the country. His trip coincided with a visit by President Bush, and Palau was invited to attend a church service in Beijing with the president and First Lady. In an interview with the official China Daily, recorded the day before the church service but published subsequently, Palau said there was more religious freedom in China than people abroad imagined. He also called for unofficial churches in China to register with the government bodies. In response to Palau, a U.S. spokeswoman for the South China Church said in a statement that 16 of the denomination's leaders were currently in prison in China, and more than 1,000 of its pastors, evangelists and believers had been jailed since 2001. Palau said he regretted some of his comments. "It's not my role as an evangelist to suggest that churches in China should register," he said. "My role is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ."
Televangelists on Unusual Side in Indecency Debate
Jube Shiver Jr., Los Angeles Times
A growing debate in the television industry has caused religious broadcasters and televangelists to side with free-speech advocates who are fearful that the unbundling of cable channels is being used by anti-indecency groups. At issue is the question of whether cable companies should continue offering subscribers channels in bundles, or let them buy what they want channel-by-channel. One FCC study showed people on average watch only 17 of the more than 100 cable channels they typically receive, so consumer groups are pushing to let people choose their channels a la carte. But what started as a consumer issue has now morphed into a larger controversy: should cable operators be required to continue exposing subscribers to “niche” channels - including religious ones - that people might not order on their own? "We don't just want to preach to the choir; we want to reach the unchurched," said Paul Crouch Jr. of Trinity Broadcast Network. "We want to be everywhere on cable." And yet, the a la carte system is also “a solution that will immediately address the issue of indecency on cable," as conservative viewers would be given more flexibility to drop channels with adult fare, said Tim Winters, executive director of the Parents Television Council. However, many Christian broadcasters, including Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, worry that changing the current system will cut into viewership. Therefore, big religious broadcasters such as Trinity and Daystar are pushing for regulations requiring cable operators to carry local, over-the-air channels such as theirs. That has put them at odds with other religious programmers that don't own TV stations, such as INSP and Gospel Music Channel.