Religion News Summaries - Sept. 8, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion News Summaries - Sept. 8, 2008

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

  • Excessive Flooding Blocks Aid to Hurricane Victims in Haiti
  • Do Americans Really Know Who Evangelicals Are?
  • Iran: House Churches Growing in Iran Despite Persecution
  • Judge Rejects Challenge to N.Y. Gay Marriage Rules

Excessive Flooding Blocks Aid to Hurricane Victims in Haiti

After a flyover of the Gonaives area of Haiti, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has learned that flooding will temporarily prevent missionaries and relief workers from reaching victims stranded there, according to the ministry. Slammed by Tropical Depressions Fay and Gustav, and most recently Tropical Storm Hanna, the damage appears to be worse than the record devastation caused by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004. "There are about 110,000 people there, and the town is completely flooded from knee-deep to 10 feet of water," said Will White, MAF pilot. "A lot of the people have moved to the tops of their houses. The town is completely cut off by water." Although MAF operates several air strips in Haiti, Thursday was the first day MAF was permitted to begin transporting missionaries to aid storm victims in Haiti. White said the biggest threats now are waterborne illnesses due to lack of clean water.

Do Americans Really Know Who Evangelicals Are?

The Christian Post reports that the "evangelical" category is harder to define than one would think, even among those who describe themselves as part of the group. A new study by Ellison Research shows that 36 percent of average adult Americans have no idea what defines an "evangelical Christian." "I'm not sure; all I can think of is Billy Graham," said one 40 year-old woman from Florida who does not attend worship services, in the survey. Fourteen percent of those who described themselves as evangelical still couldn't give a definition. Richard Cizik, vice president for Governmental Affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted that the category does not have an exact definition.

House Churches Growing in Iran Despite Persecution

ASSIST News Service reports that a major crackdown against house church Christians is proceeding in Iran. And while the Islamic government could halt its nuclear program if it wanted to, it's finding it's incapable of reversing the rapid spread of Christianity there. Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs explains. "The people look around, they see the poverty, they see the discontent, they're not happy so they have questions. Why isn't it working out, we're doing it the Islamic way, why isn't our country great? So, they are ripe to hear a new way," Nettleton said. Less than one half of one percent of the Iranian population is Christian, said Gary Lane, CBN News International Correspondent. Nettleton continued: "The church is exploding in terms of numbers, but it is coming with a price. The people are arrested, they're harassed, they're persecuted, in some cases they are beaten severely. It is not an easy pathway."

Judge Rejects Challenge to N.Y. Gay Marriage Rules

Religion News Service reports that a New York judge has dismissed the first challenge to a new state policy that recognizes same-sex marriages performed out-of-state, saying the current policy is in line with state law. In a ruling on Tuesday (Sept. 2), state Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings called the directive "consistent with New York's common law, statutory law, and constitutional separation of powers regarding recognition of marriages legally solemnized outside New York." The Alliance Defensive Fund, a prominent Christian legal organization, brought the suit in June, shortly after Gov. David Paterson ordered that same-sex couples who are married out-of-state should receive the same rights afforded to married couples.