Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 11, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 11, 2009

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

  • Funeral Set for Slain Ill. Pastor
  • Libya Tortures Four Christian Converts from Islam
  • 1 in 50 American Children Experience Homelessness
  • Mercy Corps Says Millions Left at Risk in Darfur


Funeral Set for Slain Ill. Pastor

Baptist Press reports that funeral arrangements have been announced for the Illinois Baptist pastor who was gunned down Sunday while delivering his morning sermon. Fred Winters was killed March 8 when a gunman entered the 8:15 a.m. worship service at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill. and fired on him. Visitation will be held at the church March 12, from 2-8 p.m. Funeral services will be held at the church on March 13 at 10:30 a.m. The church is located at 7110 State Route 162 in Maryville. The family will hold a private burial service. The gunman, 27-year-old Terry Joe Sedlacek of Troy, Ill., has been charged with murder and aggravated battery. Winters' wife, Cindy, said in a statement that her husband "died doing what he loved -- communicating the hope found in Jesus Christ. God is so much bigger than this situation, and our hope and trust is in Him."

Libya Tortures Four Christian Converts from Islam

ASSIST News Service reports that Libyan intelligence officials have detained and tortured four Christians for converting from Islam. According to International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christian human rights group, the Christians have been imprisoned for the past seven weeks in Tripoli, Libya's capital. Libya's External Security Organization is believed to be behind the detention and torture of the Christians. Security agents have barred the families from visiting the detained converts and are putting severe physical and psychological pressure on the Christians in order to force them to reveal the names of other converts. Fearing for their lives, other converts from Islam are on the run. The international community has previously imposed sanctions on Libya for its involvement in the bombing of an American airliner, which killed 270 people.

1 in 50 American Children Experience Homelessness

The Associated Press reports that one in 50 children in America experiences homelessness, according to a new survey based on 2005-2006 data. The number is probably higher now due to the economic environment, the report states. "These kids are the innocent victims, yet it seems somehow or other they get left out," said Dr. Ellen Bassuk, president of the National Center on Family Homelessness. "Why are they America's outcasts?" The report, released Tuesday by the center, estimates that 1.5 million children were homeless at least once during 2005-2006. Connecticut has the best plans to counter the problem, while Texas ranks lowest. Families sometimes avoid shelters that may be able to help them, as parents fear their children may be taken from them.

Mercy Corps Says Millions Left at Risk in Darfur

Religion News Service reports that Sudan's decision to expel Mercy Corps and 12 other humanitarian organizations from the war-torn nation risks millions of lives, says Mercy Corps' chief executive. According to Neal Keny-Guyer, about 2.5 million Sudanese have been living on international aid channeled largely through relief organizations. The exodus of aid agencies will leave many without food, potable water and health care, Keny-Guyer says. "People will start to move, likely toward Chad and toward the southern part of Sudan," Keny-Guyer says. "That's likely to increase instability." The expulsion orders followed the International Criminal Court's announcement Wednesday (March 4) that it was charging Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir with war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region. Sudanese media reported last week that seven more agencies would be kicked out.