Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 23, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 23, 2008

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

  • Moderate Algeria, Jordan New Spots of Islamic Fundamentalism
  • World Vision Assisting Churches in Ike Recovery
  • Vietnam: Hanoi Church Vigils May Face Legal Action
  • Pittsburgh-Area Pastor Fights to Let Homeless Live in Church

Moderate Algeria, Jordan New Spots of Islamic Fundamentalism

The 10th Annual State Department Report on International Religious Freedom, released last week, highlighted two once-moderate Islamic nations for their growing religious tolerance, the Christian Post reported. Algeria has sentenced several Christian converts from Islam, and is now enforcing a 2006 law that requires non-Muslim churches to obtain a permit to be legal. A series of churches were shut down as a result. In Jordan, government harrassment of individuals for their faith is reportedly on the rise, and one judge annulled the marriage of a man who converted from Islam to Christianity, also declaring the man "to have no religious identity." The report pins the changes on grassroot efforts by Islamic fundamentalists. The report also highlighted North Korea and Eritrea as "the worst violators of religious freedom," and noted India's recent crisis on Christians by Hindu militants.

World Vision Assisting Churches in Ike Recovery

ASSIST News Service reports that as thousands of evacuees remain on the move and more families return to see the damage on their homes, World Vision, the Christian relief agency, is equipping and facilitating church response to assist victims of Hurricane Ike. The organization has set up a hotline as a clearinghouse to connect churches in need with churches which want to help others. This week, World Vision's assessment team delivered nine pallets of emergency supplies to churches in hard hit Port Arthur and Houston's 5th Ward, an economically stressed community. "We're seeing churches unite and rise up from their own struggles to help other churches in need," said Phyllis Freeman, World Vision's director of disaster field operation, speaking in a news release.

Vietnam: Church Vigils May Face Legal Action

The Associate Press reports that two tracts of land seized decades ago by Communist officials are the center of increasing turmoil in Hanoi, as current government leaders are threatening legal action against illegal prayer vigils asking for the return of those tracts. State-controlled media suggested that Hanoi Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet was disloyal to the state and instigating unrest over the weekend. According to the AP, prayer is only allowed at church under Vietnamese law. The city began clearing the land for the site of a new park and library over the weekend, sparking increased crowds. The city mayor has asked the Vietnamese president and prime minister to intervene.

Pittsburgh-Area Pastor Fights to Let Homeless Live in Church

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Rev. Jack L. Wisor wants to "help those in need" by housing the homeless within his Brookville, Pa., church. Local officials, however, say he's violating zoning requirements. Brookville borough solicitor Stephen French said First Apostles Doctrine Church might have good intentions, but may not use the church as a homeless shelter because it is located in a commercial district. A district judge has upheld the borough's position, but at least one more court hearing is scheduled. "We should be permitted to have missionaries, guests or anyone to stay in the parsonage under our rights of religious belief" said the Rev. Wisor, a minister for nine years. "Our concern is, what gives them the right to come in and tell you who you can and cannot keep in your home?"