Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Somali Family Laments Kidnapping of Christian Girl
- Rapid Response Teams Follow in Tropical Storm Nicole's Wake
- Religious Intolerance Rising among Indonesian Muslims
- U.S. Orthodox Churches Quickly Growing, Research Finds
Somali Family Laments Kidnapping of Christian Girl
An Christian family from central Somalia has no idea what has happened to their 15-year-old daughter since Islamic militants kidnapped her nearly eight months ago. Ghelle Hassan Aded told Compass that he has not seen his daughter, Anab Ghelle Hassan, members of al Shabaab kidnapped her from a local market on Feb. 15. He says the militant group began monitoring the family's activities with the underground church in 2008, and often questioned him about their lack of attendance at the local mosque. After his daughter was kidnapped, Aded fled the area with his wife and two other children, hoping to avoid a similar fate. Al Shabaab insurgents control much of southern and central Somalia and have embarked on a campaign to rid the country of its hidden Christian population.
Rapid Response Teams Follow in Tropical Storm Nicole's Wake
Crisis-trained chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team have deployed to Windsor, N.C., where Tropical Storm Nicole caused extensive flooding damage. Windsor, a town of more than 3,000, is located in the Inner Banks region of eastern North Carolina. News reports indicate that as much as 80 percent of the town of Windsor was flooded at one point, and the storm is being blamed for six deaths in N.C. The response teams are deploying in coordination with Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization. "We kept a close eye on Tropical Storm Nicole last week and were saddened by the devastation this has caused," said Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. "As the survivors of the storm are literally carrying their memories and treasures to the curb, we are going to come alongside them and help care for the emotional and spiritual trauma they have endured."
Religious Intolerance Rising among Indonesian Muslims
Indonesian Muslims are increasingly intolerant of other religions, according to new research published by Jakarta-based Islamic National University (UIN). Asia News reports that discrimination has taken the form of non-acceptance by Muslims of non-Muslim teachers in public schools and opposition to new churches or non-Muslim places of worship. The survey, in which the Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) compared views from 2001 to 2010, found that Muslim opposition to churches and non-Muslim religious buildings rose from 40.5 percent to 57.8 percent. According to PPIM executive director Burhanudin, greater intolerance is closely linked to Islamic fundamentalism, whose rise is directly related to the absence of policies to counter it in favor of a more moderate Islam.
U.S. Orthodox Churches Quickly Growing, Research Finds
America's Eastern Orthodox parishes have grown 16 percent in the past decade, in part because of a settled immigrant community, according to new research. Religion News Service reports that Alexei Krindatch, research consultant for the Standing Conferences of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, said the growth is "a fairly high ratio for religious groups" in the U.S. The number of Orthodox parishes has reached 2,370, with more than 1 million adherents across 20 different church bodies, according to the 2010 U.S. Orthodox Census. Of the top five Orthodox churches in the U.S., two of them -- the Bulgarian Orthodox Eastern Diocese and the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese -- experienced a growth rate of over 100 percent. "It takes immigrant communities a little while to establish a religious community," Krindatch said. "They settle, then begin to think about their religious lives."