Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Lisa Whelchel Struggles with Her Christian Convictions on ‘Survivor’
Lisa Whelchel has always been a huge fan of the show ‘Survivor.’ Now the former ‘Facts of Life’ star will be a contestant, Fox News reports. However, as a devout Christian, Whelchel is wondering how her faith will play out in a game where the only rule is, ‘There are no rules.’ “I didn’t want it to come across that I was asking God to be on my side to help me win a challenge or win a million dollars,” Whelchel said. “That just doesn’t seem to line up with who God is.” While Whelchel was concerned about how lying- a key component of the game- might come across to other Christians, she wasn’t too concerned about the cursing and occasional nudity on the show. “Maybe because, personally, I have experienced so much judgment myself, I go overboard with mercy,” Whelchel explains. If she wins, Whelchel plans to give ten percent of her earnings to her brother, who recently started a church in a low-income neighborhood in California. “I love what he’s doing and it would be a joy to give away ten percent to him!”
Toronto Churches Face Eviction as School Rental Fees Skyrocket
Churches in Toronto, Canada, that rent space in public schools may face eviction if they fail to pay increased rent of up to 800 percent to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Christianity Today reports. The TDSB announced August 29 that churches renting space in schools would no longer qualify for reduced rental rates as the school district seeks to close a $110 million budget gap -- though other nonprofits still qualify for subsidized rent. Some pastors gathered to protest the rental fee hikes, claiming the increase to be an attack on churches, while other pastors prayed over the school board for divine intervention.
Burma: New Report Exposes Religious Persecution of Ethnic Chin Christians
A new report by the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) shows ethnic Christians in Burma's Chin state continue to face systematic religious discrimination at the hands of the government and are often forced to convert to Buddhism, according to Religious Liberty Monitoring. "Chins continue to face religious persecution," says Salai Za Uk Ling, CHRO's program director. "Despite strong government reforms, these efforts have yet to be extended to religious freedom." Benedict Rogers, Christian Solidarity Worldwide's East Asia team leader, says that while there are positive signs of Burmese reforms and grounds for optimism, "there is a danger of premature euphoria. ... There is still a very long way to go. The change of atmosphere has not yet resulted in a change of system." He adds: "One of the most under-reported aspects of Burma's human rights record has been the regime's discrimination and persecution of religious minorities and violations of religious freedom."
German Officials Prosecute Rabbi for Performing Circumcisions
In Germany, officials have pressed charges against a Jewish rabbi for performing circumcisions, WORLD News Service reports. The action comes in the wake of a court ruling in Cologne that banned all circumcisions but those done for "medical" reasons. After the ruling, a physician filed a complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, who serves as a mohel (ritual circumciser) for the Jewish community of Hof in northern Bavaria. Goldberg, 64, has performed more than 3,000 circumcisions on infant boys, a procedure that is required under Jewish ceremonial law. The German court ruled that when medically unnecessary, circumcision represents a "severe and irreversible interference into physical integrity." Many religious leaders have argued that prosecuting Goldberg represents a major violation of religious liberty. Activists in San Francisco also attempted to ban religious circumcisions in a citywide vote in 2011, but a judge forbade the initiative, noting that state law prevented localities from regulating healthcare providers. Princeton University professor Robert George, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, has called on Americans to defend Jews' right to maintain the practice, saying that banning religious circumcision is, "in effect, to forbid Jews from being Jews."
Publication date: September 18, 2012