Religion Today Summaries - July 10, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 10, 2007

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

In today's edition:

  • Clashes at Pakistan Mosque Spark Fears of Anti-Christian Backlash 
  • Event Denounces Conservative Christians as "Facists"
  • Ministry Spearheads Campaign to Provide Bibles for U.S. Troops Overseas
  • Don't be Afraid of Charismatics, Leaders Tell Fellow Catholics

Clashes at Pakistan Mosque Spark Fears of Anti-Christian Backlash

Christian representatives in Pakistan are calling for urgent prayer to prevent a feared backlash against Christians following clashes between security forces and Islamist militants in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, according to the Christian Post. At least seven people have died after a standoff erupted into violence at the Lal Masjid mosque, which is linked with two Madrassas (Islamic schools). Militant students have been calling for strict Islamic law, armed with assault rifles, sticks and petrol bombs since Wednesday. They have also been accused of carrying out kidnappings in the area. Persecution watchdog Release International has been informed by its contacts that thousands of extremists have been drawn to the mosque, calling for a jihad. Partners of Release International, which serves the persecuted church worldwide, fear that the anger and frustration of militants will spill over into attacks against the Christian community. “Whenever there is any incident against Muslims, Christians are always held liable,” said a spokesman for CLAAS, the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement.

Event Denounces Conservative Christians as "Facists"

According to the Church Report, UCC ministers and authors of Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right is Hijacking Mainstream Religion John Dorhauer and Sheldon Culver, Talk2Action blogger Fred Clarkson and Michelle Goldberg, journalist and the author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism appeared at a June 6 program in Manhattan entitled, "Nationalists, Fascists, and Fanatics: The Christian Right's Threat to the Future of Democracy in America." Culver said that renewalists were motivated by material, not biblical principles. She also suggested that violence (or the threat thereof) was a part of the evangelical movements, although without specific examples. Goldberg described how, unlike Christian liberals, Christian conservatives are very willing to be blissfully co-opted and manipulated by the Republican Party. She also asserted that the government has been “infiltrated” by evangelicals. Analogies between orthodox Christians and the Nazi regime surfaced during the question and answer session. Clarkson cited the Institute on Religion and Democracy as “the source of much of the trouble” from the Religious Right, created to “take apart the mainline churches.” Dorhauer concluded that one aim of the renewal groups is split churches by introducing “wedge issues” to local churches.

Ministry Spearheads Campaign to Provide Bibles for U.S. Troops Overseas

The president of Revival Fires Ministries is encouraging Christians to mark the nation's birthday by sending Bibles to troops fighting the war on terror, according to OneNewsNow.com. For several years now, evangelist Tim Todd has spearheaded a campaign to get Bibles to U.S. troops. So far, Revival Fires Ministries has provided more than 140,000 Bibles for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Whether people agree with the war or not, that's not the issue," Todd said. "We all agree that all of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan should have Bibles." Todd says all Christians can help in the effort. He has received letters from military chaplains who say the need for Bibles for American troops is at an all-time high. The evangelist is trying to send 12,000 Bibles in one shipment to newly deployed troops.

Charismatic Renewal on the Rise in the Catholic Church

While charismatic expressions such as being “slain in the Spirit” and “speaking in tongues” are typically associated with Pentecostal Protestants, the Catholic News Service reports that the charismatic renewal is on the rise in the Catholic Church. Although the movement is difficult to pinpoint in numbers, the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services cites the World Christian Encyclopedia in estimating there are 9.7 million charismatic Catholics in North America alone. As the U.S. church becomes more predominantly Hispanic, the percentage of charismatic Catholics is expected to grow. Since its inception in 1967, the charismatic renewal has been supported by Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Father John Gordon, Newark archdiocesan priest and long-time leader in the charismatic movement, encourages Catholics to view charismatic practices as a manifestation of the tradition of the Spirit-filled approach to faith. "For Catholics it's not a big leap," said Father Gordon. "We expect the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives. Our experience of worship is very physical.”

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