Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 18, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 18, 2008

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

  • Haiti: Some Still Unreached after Ike
  • Turkey: Testimony Shows Malatya Murders Premeditated
  • Gospel Rescue Missions Measure Faith-Based Initiatives
  • Student Told Rosary a Gang Symbol

Haiti: Some Still Unreached after Ike

OneNewsNow reports that many Haitians have been fending for themselves since Ike struck more than a week ago, struggling without airborne assistantce. Many low-lying areas were already flooded from previous tropical storms, and Ike exacerbated conditions to life-threatening levels. Mission Aviation Fellowship reports that some landing trips are under water. Will White, a pilot with MAF, said, "What little infrastructure in the roads that were here [such as] bridges are now washed out....they were bad roads to start with and now they're just destroyed," he shares. "The government is very limited in what they can do. Right now the relief effort is from the international community."

Testimony Shows Turkey Murders Premeditated

Compass Direct News reports that testimony on Sept. 12 in the murder case of three Christians in Malatya, Turkey, indicates the attack was premeditated for at least two suspects, despite the defense team’s insistence that the killers acted spontaneously. Two Turkish Christians who converted from Islam, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and a German, Tilmann Geske, were brutally tortured and killed on April 18, 2007. Mahmut Kudas, one of three witnesses called to testify, said murder suspect Cuma Ozdemir met with him the week before the murder and said that he was going to tell him something important. “There are 49 house churches and priests in Malatya,” Ozdemir told Kudas. When Kudas asked him what he was thinking of doing, he replied, “Those who know this will die. I will become a martyr.” Another witness, Mehmet Uludag, a former classmate of some of the suspects, said he also spoke with Ozdemir before the murders. Uludag said Ozdemir told him that he and two others were about to do something big.

Gospel Rescue Missions Measure Faith-Based Initiatives

ASSIST News Service reports that Gospel rescue missions, which provide food, clothing and shelter to millions of needy Americans, have embarked on a landmark study to identify how faith works in faith-based social services. According to a news release obtained by ANS, a self-selected group of seventeen rescue missions from across the United States, with a desire to improve program effectiveness, looked at factors such as the significance of faith in substance abuse recovery and how faith may help a person recover from addiction. The news release commented that the research may help guide the debate over federal faith-based initiatives, now in their seventh year of expansion under the Bush Administration. It found that faith elements can be measured, and people who seek help from faith-based programs show clear evidence of change. The news release stated that the research conducted by the Pilot Project will be expanded to a National Demonstration Project based at Grand Valley State University's Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership and represents new work and uncharted territory.

Student Told Rosary a Gang Symbol

Fox 4 News in Dallas reorts that area high school student Tabitha Ruiz was told to remove her rosary before entering the school building - because the rosary is a gang symbol. Security guards twice told her to remove the rosary, a gift from Tabitha's childhood. "I went to school, walked through the metal detectors and they told me to take it off," said the teenager. "I asked them why and they said because it's gang-related." Her mother is ready to take the case to district court if the school does not change its stance."If we back down to everything the gangs are doing, the gangs win," said Taire Ferguson. "Why should we take away her choice to express her religious beliefs because gangs are doing it? It's not right." Rosaries are not specifically banned by name in the district's dress code, a DISD spokesman did say, "It's up to the principal's discretion. We chose to err on the side of caution."