Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 4, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 4, 2008

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

  • Kenyan Churches Take Action in Fear of Genocide
  • 500 Afghan Women Protest Kidnapping of American Aid Worker
  • Maoists Said to Recruit Victims of Violence in India
  • British Bishop Challenges Anglicans to be ‘Christ-Centered’

Kenyan Churches Take Action in Fear of Genocide

The Christian Post reports that with ethnic tensions rising in violence-stricken Kenya despite peace efforts, local churches are stepping in to help prevent the country from descending into genocide. "Everyone, including politicians, expects the churches to play a big role in terms of reconciliation, healing, resettlement and trust building," said Canon Peter Karanja, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK). "We will need sustained and committed engagement of our international ecumenical partners if we are to fulfill that role." Karanja's statement came just as former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan brokered a deal on Friday between Kenya's rival parties to end post-election violence which has killed more than 800 people and displaced more than a quarter of a million.

500 Afghan Women Protest Kidnapping of American Aid Worker

A report on reads: "In Afghanistan, about 500 women have protested the kidnapping of American aid worker Cyd Mizell, who holds a divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The 90-minute demonstration was filled with prayers and appeals for government leaders to act. Mizell and her Afghan driver were abducted last Saturday in the southern city of Kandahar. Rona Tareen, director of the Kandahar Women's Association, urged Mizell's captives to free her immediately, saying the 49-year-old American has helped Afghan women with small business projects. Mizell, who taught English at Kandahar University and gave embroidery lessons at a girls' school, speaks the local Pashtu language well, according to colleagues. The director of Mizell's aid organization says the kidnappers have not contacted any officials."

Maoists Said to Recruit Victims of Violence in India

With a strong presence in Orissa state’s Kandhamal district, Maoists are suspected of using recent violence in the area to recruit frustrated Christians and goad them into retaliating, Christian leaders said. Extreme Marxist groups, among them Maoists, may find affected areas “happy hunting grounds” for recruitment, warned Dr. John Dayal, a member of India’s National Integration Council. Dayal told Compass Direct News that Maoists’ normally recruit in areas in which state governments fail to deliver on promises, “where the rich, the powerful, the religious bigots rule with impunity,” and administrations are thoroughly corrupt. Violence in Kandhamal around Christmas time by Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) groups killed at least four Christians and burned 730 houses and 95 churches, but there were also reports of houses of Hindus being burnt.

British Bishop Challenges Anglicans to be ‘Christ-Centered’

The Bishop of Stafford in the UK has called on churchgoers to celebrate Anglicanism and “proclaim what God has done and is doing for us in Jesus Christ”, but to also undertake an honest self-assessment of where they stand with Jesus, ASSIST News Service reports. The Rt. Rev Gordon Mursell made his comments in a pastoral letter printed in the February edition of parish magazines in the Diocese of Lichfield. In the letter, Bishop Mursell says the church only has itself to blame for media reports giving the impression that mainstream churches in the UK have “lost it,” or are in “terminal decline.” “We English Anglicans are extraordinarily good at talking down our church,” says Bishop Mursell in his letter. “It’s frightening to ask yourself: how often have I been in a conversation with non-churchgoers during which I’ve criticized ‘the Diocese’ or ‘the Evangelicals’ or ‘the Prayer Book groupies’ - or simply failed to use the opportunity to say what I really value about my church and my faith?” He also took a swipe at the bitter volleying between liberals and conservatives in the wider Anglican Communion over homosexuality, saying that Anglicans are “incomprehensibly obsessed with sex - or at least that’s the impression we often give."