Religion Today Summaries - May 14, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 14, 2008

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

  • Christians Respond Promptly to China Quake
  • Pope Asks Israel: Help Keep Catholics in Holy Land
  • Florida Pastor Forrest Pollock and Son Killed in Plane Crash
  • College Official Fired for Column on Homosexuality

Christians Respond Promptly to China Quake

The Christian Post reports that Monday's jolting 7.9 magnitude earthquake in China’s southwestern Sichuan province was the worst natural disaster to strike the Middle Kingdom in over three decades. An estimated 12,000 dead; another 18,645 people were still buried in and around Mianyang, according to Xinhua News Agency. Christian groups were among the first to respond to the crisis. World Vision said it had relief and aid workers ready to deploy at any notice. Evangelist Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan's Purse, is currently traveling through China. He indicated that Samaritan’s Purse, would be ready to send aid immediately during a meeting with Chinese officials. That the earthquake happened so soon after the cyclone disaster in Burma has raised attention to the prompt readiness and dedication of Christian relief organizations.

Pope Asks Israel: Help Keep Catholics in Holy Land

According to Reuters, Pope Benedict appealed to Israel on Monday to help stem a sharp decline in the country's minority Christian population. The Pope noted that Catholics have grown particularly vulnerable to Middle East conflicts. As part of his plea, the Pope also called for greater mobility for Palestinians as they travel to places of worship. "I know that you share my concern over the alarming decline in the Christian population in the Middle East, including Israel, through emigration," the pontiff said. "I pray that... ways will be found of reassuring the Christian community, so that they can experience the hope of a secure and peaceful future in their ancestral homelands."

Florida Pastor Forrest Pollock and Son Killed in Plane Crash

Florida pastor Forrest Pollock and a 13-year-old son were killed May 12 when the single-engine plane Pollock was flying crashed in North Carolina, Baptist Press reports. Pollock, 44, had been pastor of the Tampa-area Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon since 2002. According to the Citizen-Times in Asheville, N.C., rescue officials confirmed the deaths of Pollock and his son Preston, who were reported missing after their 5 a.m. takeoff. They had made a stop in North Carolina on Sunday, May 11, and were headed to a preaching engagement in Texas. Debris from the single-engine plane was found Tuesday morning by rescuers in a heavily wooded area on a ridge north of Cold Mountain in the Shining Rock Wilderness. Pollock is survived by his wife Dawn and five other children, Courtney, 15; Brooke, 14; Hope, 12; Blake, 10; and Kirk, 8. He was to have been a featured speaker at the Southern Baptist Convention's June 10-11 annual meeting in Indianapolis.

College Official Fired for Column on Homosexuality has learned that a University of Toledo administrator has lost her job because she wrote a newspaper commentary that questioned whether homosexuality is a civil rights issue. Crystal Dixon, the associate vice president of human resources at the state university, had earlier been put on paid administrative leave for the Apr. 18 column published in the Toledo Free Press. "She has been fired," said Brian Rooney, spokesman for the Thomas More Law Center, the legal-defense group which is representing Dixon. Rooney told CNS that the university had offered Dixon "another position, in a different part of the university, not in human resources" because she had argued in her editorial that sexual orientation is not an immutable characteristic like race or sex and should not be afforded the same protection under civil rights laws. "She said no, that's when she was fired," Rooney said. "We are going to do everything we can within the law to try to show that the firing was improper and potentially illegal." Tobin Klinger, senior director of university communications at the university, confirmed that Dixon was no longer an employee, but said he "couldn't elaborate" on whether she was fired or for what reason.