Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Some on Hill Want to 'Save' Christmas, but Others Fight for the Poor
Catholic News Service
As Christmas drew near in Washington, the juncture of two seemingly unrelated public campaigns came to symbolize the frustrations of those working to combat poverty in the U.S. As some in Congress pushed for a resolution objecting to efforts to ban traditional Christmas greetings, 114 faith-based activists volunteered to be arrested Dec. 14 in a protest of how the House-passed budget treats the nation's poor. As part of a nationwide week of prayer and action, the protesters sang hymns and prayed as they blocked an entrance to the Cannon House Office Building, illustrating their dissatisfaction with the budget, which would reduce taxes for the wealthy while cutting funding for many social programs. "The House budget is a blatant reversal of biblical values," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, convener of Call to Renewal, a network of churches working to overcome poverty. "The faith community is outraged and is drawing a line in the sand against immoral national priorities." Cutting programs that help the poor -- including Medicaid, food stamps, housing subsidies, child care assistance, and enforcement of child-support payment laws -- "is not just bad policy, it is a moral disgrace," he said at a rally that drew about 300 people in bitterly cold weather.
European Union Attacking Catholics and Conservatives
Family News in Focus
The European Union (EU) isn’t quiet about its contempt for the Catholic Church. The church’s international positions on abortion and other pro-family issues are being met with derision by the EU and that doesn’t bode well for those who hold them. At a recent EU conference looking for ways to force nations to liberalize their abortion laws, a participant from Malta said the world is a cruel place because of the Catholic Church and its position on abortion. Bill Saunders of the Family Research Council said, “There are two aspects to [the EU’s strategies]; one is attacking the kind of public policies of traditionally Catholic countries and then some criticism of Catholicism itself.” Paolo Carozza, a professor at the Notre Dame Law School, says Poland is a good example of the EU’s tactics. Poland recently installed a conservative government. “It might, for example, influence who becomes a minister in the European Union, who rises to positions of power, which domestic coalitions are helped in their domestic processes by it and so forth.” Carozza says even more troubling to European political elites than the church’s politics is the church’s claim to speak for the basic values of humanity.
Believer Killed in Assam Violence
Gospel for Asia
A 15-year-old Believers Church member was killed in Assam, India, due to the continued ethnic fighting. Vidyasingh and one of his friends were returning to their recently destroyed village to recover some food when they were ambushed and shot. It was three days before the area was safe enough for his body, which bore nine bullets, to be recovered. Two days later, 35 houses in another village were torched. Each of two militant underground groups are trying to force the other out of their land. "It looks as if the nightmare is going to start all over again," wrote our GFA correspondent. At present, he says, the Karbi and Dimasa tribesmen are not willing to discuss a compromise. GFA Bible college students and missionaries are continuing to minister in the midst of the conflict. They ask for your prayers that hindrances such as travel restrictions and riots will not affect their ability to minister. Please remember to hold them up in prayer during this uncertain time.
Faith Cuts Inmate Anti-Social Behavior, Study Finds
The Washington Times
Religion can reduce the incidence of anti-social behavior in prison, an independent study of Mississippi inmates concludes, making faith-based programs an attractive alternative to expensive correctional treatment. "Religiosity" -- believing in a higher power, attending worship services regularly and participating in faith-based prison programs -- directly reduces inmate arguments, and thereby the fights that typically follow, according to the study published this month in the Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion. Studies have shown that treatment programs focusing on literacy, general equivalency diplomas and college training, and recovery from substance abuse are promising, but are very expensive, compared with faith-based programs. The study was conducted at Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss. -- one of the largest prisons in the United States, with 5,500 inmates -- but did not address the effect religion has on inmates after they are released.