Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 16, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 16, 2009

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

  • Report: No Evidence Rifqa Bary Would Be in Danger
  • Judge: Homeless Shelter Exempt from Discrimination Laws 
  • Christian Official's Death in India Called Divine Punishment
  • Slain Pro-Lifer Remembered as a 'Devoted'

Report: No Evidence Rifqa Bary Would Be in Danger

Florida authorities say they found no evidence that a Christian teen convert would be in danger if she was returned to her Muslim parents in Ohio, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Rifqa Bary, 17, alleged that her Muslim father threatened to kill her when he found out she had become a Christian, prompting her to run away to a Florida pastor's family. Investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say they found no evidence of abuse after interviewing Rifqa's family and teachers. Still, that doesn't necessarily mean she will have to return home. The teen and her parents are pursuing mediation before another hearing on Sept. 29, and she may live with a foster family if she returns to Ohio. Rifqa Bary's lawyer, John Stemberger, says the report is incomplete at best.

Judge: Homeless Shelter Exempt from Discrimination Laws  

Religion News Service reports that anti-discrimination statutes do not apply to an Idaho homeless shelter run by Christians because it is not a "dwelling." U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge also affirmed the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries' right to hold Christian services and encourage participants in its drug and alcohol recovery program to accept Christianity. The 51-year-old non-profit says it runs three shelters that serve more than 28,000 meals and offers 8,000 beds to homeless persons each month. Barring the Boise ministry from "teaching, preaching and proselytizing to individuals on its property, whether they be shelter guests, Discipleship program residents, or other individuals ... would substantially burden the Rescue Mission's ability to freely exercise its religion," Lodge wrote.

Christian Official's Death in India Called Divine Punishment

Compass Direct News reports that Hindu nationalists are calling the helicopter-crash death of a Christian official divine punishment for his "conversion agenda." The same allegation of a "conversion agenda" fueled persecution in the state for more than five years. Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, a second-generation Christian in the Church of South India, and four officials were confirmed dead when their helicopter was found on Sept. 3 in the state's dense forest area of Nallamalla. Since Reddy, 60, became chief minister of the southern state in 2004, Hindu nationalist groups had been accusing him of helping Western missionaries to convert economically poor Hindus. "This is divine justice by Lord Srinivasa [One of the names of Hindu god Venkateshwara, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu]," commented a writer identified only as Jayakumar on the Express Buzz news website.

Slain Pro-Lifer Remembered as a 'Devoted'

Baptist Press reports that a pro-life activist gunned down while holding a pro-life placard outside a high school has been hailed as a martyr by some. James Pouillon, a retired autoworker in Michigan, was gunned down Sept. 11 in Owosso, Mich., near Flint. Pouillon, 63, held a sign that pictured a chubby-cheeked baby with the word "Life" on one side and an image of an aborted fetus with the word "Abortion" on the other. Pouillon made a habit of standing in public places with similar signs for the last two decades. President Obama, in a two-sentence statement Sept. 13, called the shooting "deplorable." "Whichever side of a public debate you're on, violence is never the right answer," Obama said. Harlan Drake, 33, an Owosso truck driver, is in custody for shooting Pouillon and a local gravel company owner the same day.