Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 29, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 29, 2009

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

  • Congregations Keep on Giving, Despite the Recession
  • Massive 'Reconversion' Event in India Aimed at Christians
  • Religious Hostility Case Heads to the 9th Circuit
  • Two Evangelists in Ethiopia Released from Prison

Congregations Keep on Giving, Despite the Recession

Religion News Service reports that despite the economic recession, a plurality of congregations reported an increase in donations in the first half of 2009, according to a new study. More than two-thirds of 1,500 congregations surveyed said fundraising has increased (37 percent) or held steady (34 percent), according to the study. Nearly 30 percent said giving had decreased in 2009, a significant uptick since 2008, when only 22 percent said giving had declined. "While many congregations have been hit hard by the recession, this study underscores the remarkable resilience of congregations, as evidenced in the extraordinary and imaginative ways they are reaching out to meet the needs of their parishioners and people in their community," said William Enright, director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, a program of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Massive 'Reconversion' Event in India Aimed at Christians

Compass Direct News reports that hundreds of tribal Christians and adherents of aboriginal religion from villages were reportedly "reconverted" to Hinduism on Oct. 26. Hindu nationalist Swami Narendra Maharaj's goal was to "reconvert" 6,000 Christians in the so-called purification ceremony in Maharashtra state, reported The Hindustan Times, which put the number of "reconversions" at around 800. Hindu nationalists believe all Indians are born Hindu and therefore regard acceptance of Hinduism by those practicing other religions as "reconversion." Many reports of "reconversions," however, have been found to be false. In 2007, a Hindi-language newspaper reported that four Christian families had "reconverted" to Hinduism. But a fact-finding team from the All India Christian Council revealed that none of the members of those families had ever converted to Christianity.

Religious Hostility Case Heads to the 9th Circuit

Advocates for Faith & Freedom reports that the case against a teacher who denounced creationism as "religious, superstitious nonsense" is headed to the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. A lower court found that Dr. James Corbett had violated the Establishment clause with these and other statements critical of religion. One of Corbett's Advanced Placement students, Chad Farnan, filed the suit after tiring of his teacher's disregard for religion. On May 1, 2009, District Judge James V. Selna agreed, saying that Corbett's statement "constitutes improper disapproval of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause." This case recognizes that far too often the Establishment Clause is invoked when there is a perceived promotion of religion by a governmental actor, but is not applied with equal force where a government actor like Dr. Corbett shows disapproval of religion.

Two Evangelists in Ethiopia Released from Prison

Compass Direct News reports that the latest in a series of false charges against two Ethiopian evangelists was put to rest on Friday (Oct. 23), and they were released. A court in Debiretabor, Ethiopia acquitted the two evangelists of insulting the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) in prison, an accusation made by fellow inmates after the two were jailed on false charges of offering money for people to convert. Temesgen Alemayehu and Tigist Welde Amanuel had been sentenced to prison for six months on the false charge of offering money to people to convert but successfully appealed the punishment; after a lower court in Amhara state had thrown out their appeal on Sept. 21, the State Supreme Court in Bahir Dar ordered them to be to be released after paying a 500 birr (US$40) fine. "Thank you to those who prayed for us," Alemayehu said after his release, adding that he was eager to return to ministry.