Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 30, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 30, 2008

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

  • World Food Crisis Deepening
  • Former North Korean Agents Tell of Infiltrating Christians
  • Christians in India Concerned about New Anti-Conversion Law
  • Pelosi Says She Heard Disputed Bible Verse from Priest

World Food Crisis Deepening

ASSIST News Service reports that international relief agency World Vision, one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations, is calling on donor governments to increase resources in order to fund the World Food Program's $755 million shortfall. It also urges leaders of the world's leading industrialized nations to make the issue a priority at the upcoming G8 conference. Amid surging food prices, child malnutrition, violent unrest and the prospect of prolonged food shortages, World Vision has announced a potential 1.5 million drop in the number of people receiving its food assistance. The aid organization cites the soaring cost of food and unmet donor-nation aid commitments for a potential 23 percent decrease in the number of people it is able to supply with food aid this year. "Despite our best efforts, more than a million of our beneficiaries are no longer receiving food aid," said Dean Hirsch, president of World Vision International. "At least a third of these are children who urgently need enough healthy food to thrive."

Former North Korean Agents Tell of Infiltrating Christians

Compass Direct News reports that former police and security officers in North Korea told a U.S. government body that their superiors had instructed them to play the role of Christians and infiltrate “underground” prayer meetings in order to incriminate, arrest, imprison and sometimes execute believers in North Korea. Interviewed for a report issued on April 15 by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the six officers were tasked – before they fled North Korea – with finding and eliminating small groups of Christians. “There are no preliminary hearings when religious people get caught,” one agent said. “[We] regard them as anti-revolutionary elements. When such an offender is caught in North Korea, the NSA officers surround the person and kick and beat the person severely before interrogating.” Another agent said, “The most important question asked to the repatriated is whether they have met South Korean missionaries or evangelists or encountered or experienced religion.”

Christians in India Concerned about New Anti-Conversion Law

According to Baptist Press, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in India's Gujarat state has implemented an "anti-conversion" law passed in 2003, increasing fears among Christians that it will open the door to false accusations by Hindu extremists. India's Freedom of Religion Acts, referred to as anti-conversion laws, now have been implemented in five of India's 28 states. The laws seek to curb religious conversions made by "force," "fraud" or "allurement." But Christians and human rights groups say that in reality the laws obstruct conversion generally, as Hindu nationalists invoke them to harass Christian workers with spurious arrests and incarcerations. The rules under the Gujarat law make it obligatory for clergy to obtain prior permission of the district magistrate in order to avoid police action when assisting in an individual's conversion from one religion to another.

Pelosi Says She Heard Disputed Bible Verse from Priest reports that the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Fox News last week that Pelosi heard the disputed Bible "passage" she used in her April 22 Earth Day message from a priest in San Francisco. Brit Hume reported last Thursday on "Special Report with Brit Hume" that Pelosi's office had told Fox News that the Speaker had "heard a priest quote the verse many years ago during a mass in San Francisco." On Thursday, Friday, and again on Monday, however, the Speaker's office did not respond to requests for comment made by Cybercast News Service , which first reported on Wednesday, April 23 that biblical scholars have cast doubt on the authenticity of the passage. In her news release, Pelosi said the quote - 'To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us' - came from the Old Testament. Biblical scholars told Cybercast News Service that the quote does not appear anywhere in the Old or New Testament. Moreover, they say nothing similar can be found in Scripture.