Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 4, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 4, 2008

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

  • Anglican Church, Vatican Condemn Orissa Violence
  • Haiti: Hurricane Season Slams Ministries
  • Political Sermons on Web Earn Tax Exemption Review
  • Relief Agencies Prepare for Still More Storms

Anglican Church, Vatican Condemn Orissa Violence

About 16,000 Christians have fled and at least 16 people have been killed in India's Orissa state, the Christian Post reports. The head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, called on Christians to speak out. “I hope that Christians and people of faith around the world will make known their horror at this violence, their support for the rebuilding of lives and the churches, orphanages and schools destroyed, and for work towards future reconciliation,” he said. Likewise, the Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, said the international community must demonstrate the same commitment to wiping out growing "Christianophobia" as to tackling anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. Violence between Hindu extremists and Christians has continued even after Maoists claimed responsibility for the death of militant, extremist Hindu leader blamed on Christians.

Haiti: Hurricane Season Slams Ministries

Mission News Network reports that Haiti had no time to recover from Hurricane Gustav before Hurricane Hanna struck on Tuesday, again causing massive flooding. Floods and mudslides from the storms have killed more than 100 people. Eva DeHart of For Haiti With Love told MNN that families are desperate for food, even standing outside the ministry's gates during Hanna's fury. Haiti was already enduring a food crisis before the storms hit, and the active hurricane season threatens to worsen the situation, as blocked roads inhibit food distribution. DeHart said, "Gonaives is totally flooded, and areas of Cap Haitien are starting to flood. Nobody is allowed out on the streets. It was food distribution day, but nobody is allowed out on the streets."

Political Sermons on Web Earn Tax Exemption Review

Sermons posted on the Internet may land politically-minded pastors in trouble if they're not careful, the New York Times reports. This year the Internal Revenue Service began actively watching the Internet for churches who violate their tax exempt status by supporting or opposing candidates from the pulpit. YouTube and Google, paired with the increased Web presence of churches, has made it easier for the IRS and watchdog groups to find pastors who perhaps thought only their congregations would hear the message. Several churches' tax exempt status is under review and may be revoked this year thanks to such monitoring. “The I.R.S. goes, and it’s scouring the Internet looking for trouble," said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for a conservative Christian group called the Alliance Defense Fund, which defends clergy members accused of partisan activities. “It is our contention that in church it is the pastor who should determine what is said, not the I.R.S.”

Relief Agencies Prepare for Still More Storms

Although Hurricane Gustav is gone, it's not over yet, ASSIST News Service reports. "Three more storms are coming on the heels of Gustav -- Hurricane Hannah is expected to strike as soon as Friday, followed by potential hurricanes Ike and Josephine. Significant flooding is expected throughout the region as all eyes remain on the levees," said Hal Donaldson, president of relief organization Convoy of Hope. "Gustav also caused flooding in some Florida locations, including Orlando and Sanford. In Louisiana, all parishes remain closed with roads blocked as 1.4 million people remain without power (estimated to be down another two to three weeks), and boil water orders are in effect in two parishes," Donaldson said. Mickey Caison, director of the SBC North American Mission Board's adult mobilization team told Baptist Press, "Reports are that evacuees are running out of money and some restaurants are running out of food -- especially along the I-20 corridor. So we've got to step up to help them at these peripheral evacuation centers."