Religion Today Summaries - December 21, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 21, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Compassion International Children Dead, Missing After Philippines Flood
  • Asia Bibi Forgives Captors, Has Not Lost Hope
  • USCIRF Reauthorized, But Seven Must Leave Panel
  • Thousands Rally for Nativity Scene in Texas Town


Compassion International Children Dead, Missing After Philippines Flood

Nearly 1,000 are dead and tens of thousands have been affected after flash flooding in Mindanao, Philippines, during the weekend, including children from Compassion International's child development centers, Mission Network News reports. "It's difficult to confirm anything because our electricity and the phone lines are unavailable right now, but what seems to be coming in is that we have had children killed, and that we have some more that are missing," said Kathy Redmond, Compassion's U.S. communications director. The organization has about 54,000 children in 320 development centers across the Philippines, most of which are in areas away from Mindanao. Compassion is working to provide survival necessities to victims in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Asia Bibi Forgives Captors, Has Not Lost Hope

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian mother of five imprisoned and facing a death sentence for false charges of blasphemy, says she has forgiven her captors and has not lost hope nor her desire to continue fighting for her freedom, Asia News reports. "I wish with all my being to be with my family," she said. "I still cherish the hope that one day I will be freed. ... Although illiterate, I remain deeply Christian, and my religion has taught me the value of forgiveness. At first, when I was thrown in prison, I was angry and meditated revenge, because I had been ripped from my family. Then I started to pray and fast, and it may seem strange, I have noticed that I have forgiven those people who charged me with blasphemy." Bibi also said she was grateful for the prayers of Christians around the world, and added: "How many more brothers and sisters are still unjustly accused ... will be mistreated, abused, defendants in mock trials as happened to me?"

USCIRF Reauthorized, But Seven Must Leave Panel

Congress granted the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reauthorization for three more years on Friday, which could have been its final day of existence, Baptist Press reports. The bill instates limits to commissioners' terms, which will require seven of the nine current commissioners to leave the panel in 90 days, and also drops USCIRF's yearly budget from more than $4 million to $3 million, but religious freedom advocates are relieved and happy nonetheless. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) applauded Congress for re-authorizing the organization: "[USCIRF] speaks plainly about religious freedom abuses wherever they occur in ways that the State Department can barely muster, during Republican and Democrat administrations alike." Since it was established in 1998, USCIRF has played a major role in bringing attention to persecution of Christians worldwide.

Thousands Rally for Nativity Scene in Texas Town

Thousands of residents of Athens, Texas, gathered at the courthouse to protest an effort to remove a Nativity scene from the town square, reports. After the Freedom From Religion Foundation asked that the Nativity scene be removed and replaced by a "winter solstice" banner, about 5,000 people attended Saturday's rally, which one pastor said was prompted by "the beginning of persecution of Christianity in our nation." A county judge says no federal laws are being broken and that the Nativity scene will remain.

Publication date: December 21, 2011