Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 7, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 7, 2009

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

  • Mediation Next Step in Teen Muslim-Christian Case
  • Focus on the Family Announces More Layoffs
  • Egypt Muslim Council: Building Churches Is 'Sin'
  • Open Doors Launches Ministry for Traumatized Iraqi Children

Mediation Next Step in Teen Muslim-Christian Case

CNN reports that a Christian teen who ran away from her Muslim family in Ohio will stay in Florida for now, but will have to face her parents again. A Florida judge ordered Rifqa Bary and her parents, Mohamed and Aysha Bary, to seek mediation within 30 days. Seventeen-year-old Rifqa maintains that her father threatened to kill her when he discovered her conversion, while Rifqa's parents deny such allegations. "We wouldn't do her harm," the father said, adding that he knew his daughter was involved with Christian organizations. The Bary family is originally from Sri Lanka, and Rifqa says she fears being sent back to be killed or put in an asylum there. The teen ran from home in July to meet a pastor's family in Florida whom she met via Facebook.

Focus on the Family Announces More Layoffs

Religion News Service reports that Focus on the Family ministry announced additional layoffs Wednesday (Sept. 2), cutting its staff by 8 percent to a total of 860 people. The 75 layoffs are augmented by a decision to not fill 57 vacancies as the prominent evangelical ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo., addresses a 5 percent shortfall in its budget. Focus spokeswoman Lisa Anderson said the shortfall in the $138 million budget was due mostly to a decrease in giving from large donors affected by the economic downturn. "Many of them have really seen their own businesses be hit and so ... that, for us, translated into lower giving," she said. She said monthly donors have generally maintained their giving levels. The latest layoffs come less than a year after the ministry laid off 200 employees in November 2008.

Egypt Muslim Council: Building Churches Is 'Sin'

The Christian Post reports that a human rights group are fighting an Islamic council after the council issued a fatwa (Islamic edict) declaring that building a church is "a sin against God." According to Egyptian Union Human Rights Organization President Dr. Naguib Gabraeel, the controversy began after his group found a troubling passage in a Cairo University textbook. The passage, dealing with inheritance and execution of wills, said that "it is forbidden for a person to donate money for what would lead to sin, such as donating in his will money towards build[ing] a church, a nightclub, a gambling casino, towards promoting the alcohol industry or for building a barn for rearing pigs, cats or dogs." When asked, the Fatwa Council upheld the passage even though it contradicts Egypt's constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.

Open Doors Launches Ministry for Traumatized Iraqi Children

Christian Today reports that a persecution watchdog group has launched a new support ministry to children in Iraq who must live with ongoing violence. "Because we are working with a traumatized population, we have to address the issue of trauma. Training people to help traumatized children is one part of the course," said one Open Doors worker in Iraq. "Recently we gave a trauma counseling training course to help children. The group was very attentive, on-time and able to soak in the material. The group consisted of kindergarten teachers, orphanage workers, nuns, psychologists and social workers... Most of the class members had experienced a high level of violence, including car bombings, and other war related traumas themselves." The sessions work to help children and teenagers express their pain and enjoy being children again.