Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 28, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 28, 2009

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

  • Somalia: Islamist Insurgents Take Gov't-Controlled City
  • For Haiti with Love Faces Food Delivery Problems
  • Egyptian Judge Tells Christian Convert, 'I Would Kill You'
  • Haggard’s Church Discloses More on Sex Scandal

Somalia: Islamist Insurgents Take Gov't-Controlled City

Reuters reports that militant Islamist insurgents dealt Somalia's Western-backed government a heavy blow Monday, when rebel fighters captured one of two cities remaining under the official government's control. The move came just hours after Ethiopia withdrew the last of its forces from the central town of Baidoa. The militant al Shabaab group says the town is now peaceful in their control, but the group maintains its stated goal of imposing Islamic law. The United States has tagged the group as a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, Somalia's parliament have fled the country and convened in neighboring Djibouti, where they are now working to incorporate moderate Muslim opposition groups into parliament. Hardline Islamists killed at least 24 aid workers in Somalia in 2008, and have killed multiple converts from Islam to Christianity for "apostasy."

For Haiti with Love Faces Food Delivery Problems

Mission News Network reports that providing Haitians with basic life necessities is becoming more and more difficult, as the poorest nation in the western hemisphere continues to face massive food shortages. "If we're to continue the food program, it's vital that we be able to get the food from the wharf to the headquarters. We have to be able to get the rice from the point of purchase up to our headquarters for distribution," said Eva DeHart, co-founder of For Haiti with Love. With roads in disrepair and an old pickup truck for deliveries, getting supplies up the mountains has become a major obstacle. "Many other people are having the same problems, so it's virtually impossible to find a truck to rent now," she said.

Egyptian Judge Tells Christian Convert, 'I Would Kill You'

Compass Direct News reports that after her arrest at Cairo’s airport on Dec. 13 while attempting to flee anti-Christian hostilities in Egypt, convert Martha Samuel Makkar was granted bail on Saturday (Jan. 24), but not before a judge took her aside and said he would like to kill her, according to her lawyer. Attorney Nadia Tawfiq said Judge Abdelaa Hashem questioned Makkar extensively about her Christian faith during the hearing. Makkar repudiated the judge’s claims that converting from Islam to Christianity was impossible. “Then he said, ‘I want to talk with Martha alone,’ so we all left the room, and he said to her, ‘Nobody changes from Muslim to Christian – you are a Muslim,’” Tawfiq said. “And she said, ‘No, I am a Christian.’ He told her, ‘If I had a knife now, I would kill you.’ [Makkar] came out crying and depressed, but at least he gave the decision to let her go free.” Makkar, 24, said police and members of her extended family have threatened her incessantly, with the latter threatening to kill her.

Haggard’s Church Discloses More on Sex Scandal

The New York Times reports that New Life Church in Colorado has disclosed further details concerning the dismissal of its founding pastor, Ted Haggard, in 2006. According to New Life leaders, Haggard, who admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a male escort, also had a relationship with a young male church member. The church withheld this chapter of Haggard's story in 2006 after the young man approached church authorities "for counseling about the affair," the Times reports. The church also paid for counseling and college payments for the young man out of its insurance fund. According to current senior pastor Brady Boyd, New Life decided to make the announcement after the young man came back to them recently, angered over HBO's soon-to-be-aired documentary of Haggard and wanting to share his part of the story.