Religion Today Summaries - July 17, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 17, 2008

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

  • Parts of New Orleans Still Struggle
  • Muslim-Led UN Resolution Draws Criticism
  • Zimbabwe: Christian Leaders Say Country Is Deteriorating
  • Mass. Senate OK's Out-of-State Gay 'Marriages'

Parts of New Orleans Still Struggle

Baptist Press reports that in many ways, New Orleans is coming back. The economy, fueled by rebuilding efforts and open seaports to the Gulf of Mexico, registers unemployment at 3.8 percent. And the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival drew more than 400,000 people this spring. But vital statistics don't tell the whole story. For every freshly painted, spick-and-span rebuild in residential streets, there are three, maybe four, that look dilapidated. The letters TFW (toxic flood water) are still spray-painted on some from 2005. Don Snipes, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention's onsite coordinator for Southern Baptists' Operation NOAH (New Orleans Area Hope) Rebuild effort, said NOAH could continue for another decade and still have work to do. City population in March was estimated at 71.8 percent of its pre-Katrina level, but "Some people have been on waiting lists [for rebuild assistance] for two years," Snipes said. A constant and pressing need is skilled-labor volunteers such as electricians and plumbers.

Muslim-Led UN Resolution Draws Criticism

OneNewsNow reports that a U.N. resolution sponsored by dozens of Muslim nations undercuts the ability to speak against Islam. "[The Islamic Conference has] put forward what's called a '[Combating] Defamation of Religions' resolution which would amend the U.N.'s Declaration of Human Rights and would make it a criminal act and violation of international law to 'defame another religion,'" explains Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice. Islam is the only religion explicitly named as "another religion." "[S]o there's nothing about preventing the defamation of Christianity," the attorney warns, "which means if you were spreading the gospel, it would be deemed defamatory towards Islam and would be [considered] a crime." He worries that the resolution will "literally change the entire scope of human rights law on an international basis." Americans may sign a petition against the resolution on the ACLJ Web site.

Zimbabwe: Christian Leaders Say Country Is Deteriorating

Christian leaders in Zimbabwe warn that unless something changes, Zimbabwe will be the next African country to experience large-scale genocide, the Christian Post reports. Leaders of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches report that inflation, famine, and violence are only increasing after the recent elections. “People are being abducted, tortured, humiliated by being asked to repeat slogans of the political party they are alleged not to support, ordered to attend mass meetings where they are told they voted for the ‘wrong’ candidate and should never repeat it in the run-off election for President, and, in some cases, people are murdered,” the church leaders said in a statement. They continued, “The shops are empty and basic foodstuffs are unavailable,” the leaders informed. “Victims of organized torture who are ferried to hospital find little solace as the hospitals have no drugs or medicines to treat them.”

Mass. Senate OK's Out-of-State Gay 'Marriages'

According to the Christian Post, a state senate vote on Tuesday may make Massachusetts the next state to provide marriage licenses to out-of-state homosexual couples. The senate voted to repeal a 1913 law that prohibits couples from obtaining marriage licenses if they may not legally marry in their home states. A 2006 State Supreme Court ruling upheld the law as constitutional and not racially discriminatory - critics say the law was meant to bar out-of-state interracial couples - and former Gov. Mitt Romney enforced the law after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriages. "The Massachusetts Senate has no right to infringe on the internal issues of how other states define marriage," said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, according to the Associated Press.