Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 3, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 3, 2008

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

  • Conn., Canadian Diocese Move toward Same-Sex Blessings
  • India: Faithful Mourn Death of Priest Attacked in Orissa
  • Global Evangelical Assembly Commits to Engage World
  • Azerbaijan: Church Leader on Trial for False Charges

Conn., Canadian Diocese Move toward Same-Sex Blessings

Religion News Service reports that Episcopalians in Connecticut and two Anglican dioceses in Canada are pushing for more latitude in blessing same-sex couples, despite widespread opposition in the worldwide Anglican Communion to gay and lesbian relationships. On Saturday (Oct. 25), delegates at the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut voted 174 to 123 to ask Bishop Andrew Smith to allow clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages. The vote came two weeks after Connecticut's Supreme Court said it's unconstitutional to prevent gays and lesbians from marrying. Smith said he and his advisers will study the matter. Meanwhile, Connecticut priests are allowed to give blessings during same-sex unions under a 2006 policy. On Friday, Bishop Barry Clarke of the Anglican Church of Canada announced plans to draft rites of blessing in the Diocese of Montreal for gay and lesbian couples who have already married under Canadian civil law.

India: Faithful Mourn Death of Priest Attacked in Orissa

Compass Direct News reports that more than 3,000 people today attended the funeral in Bhubaneswar, Orissa of a Catholic priest who died on Tuesday (Oct. 28) from injuries sustained in anti-Christian violence that began in August. Father Bernard Digal died in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, after an operation to remove a blood clot that developed in his brain due to a head injury from Hindu extremists attacking him on Aug. 25-26 in Kandhamal district, Orissa state. He was 46. “He was smashed like a pulp,” Raphael Cheenath, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, told Compass. “Because of the hate campaign of the [Hindu extremist] Sangh Parivar, the attackers lost their humanity and they became devils. Human beings can’t do what they have done.” Fr. Digal was visiting Sankarakhole parish when violence flared after Maoists killed Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and his disciples on Aug. 23.

Global Evangelical Assembly Commits to Engage World

The World Evangelical Alliance concluded their first general assembly in six years with a resolve to spread the Gospel through action as well as words, the Christian Post reported. The 500 participants of the WEA General Assembly in Thailand also passed six major resolutions, on issues related to religious liberty, peace-making, the global financial crisis, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and creation care. “We commit ourselves to listen with understanding to our children, youth, women, and the most marginalized – especially people living HIV – so that we can work together for a healthy and safe future which will enable all people to live in the abundant life Jesus promised,” expressed one resolution calling evangelicals to action in the fight against HIV/AIDS. “With brokenness we admit that as Evangelical Christians we have allowed stigmatization and discrimination to characterize our relationships with people living with HIV,” it continued. “We repent of these sinful attitudes and commit to ensuring that they are changed.”

Azerbaijan: Church Leader on Trial for False Charges

International Christian Concern confirms that Pastor Hamid Shabanov was due back in court Friday in Azerbaijan, Mission News Network reports, facing false charges of illegal weapon possession. His family and lawyer, however, say his detention is illegal and that none of his representatives know what the indictment is. Authorities arrested Shabanov in June after a raid, and confiscated Bibles and Christian books. Fellow-pastor Zaur Balaev was freed from prison in March but is still being hounded by the government. Azerbaijani law does not require churches to be registered, but churches such as Shabanov's have been randomly closed or destroyed for not being registered.