Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 21, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 21, 2008

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

  • Christian Group Leaves Chinese Airport After Standoff
  • Presbyterian Clergy Will Return to Court over Lesbian Wedding
  • India: Hindu Extremists Suspected in Murder of Priest
  • Women Theologians Urge Churches to Challenge Power Structures

Christian Group Leaves Chinese Airport After Standoff

ASSIST News Service reports that members of an American Christian group have ended a standoff with Chinese customs officials over Bibles they were trying to bring into the country. Voice of America (VOA) reported Vision Beyond Borders leader Pat Klein said Monday that he and three others spent 26 hours at the Kunming airport in the southwestern province Yunnan, waiting for officials to return more than 300 confiscated Bibles in Chinese. A representative for the group, Dyann Romeijn, told VOA the four decided to leave the airport Monday after it became clear Chinese officials would not return the books. She said Klein became concerned he and his traveling companions - including a 78-year-old man and 15-year-old boy - would be forcibly removed from the airport. But U.S embassy officials later told them that doing so violated a Chinese law prohibiting the import of religious materials other than for personal use.

Presbyterian Clergy Will Return to Court over Lesbian Wedding

Religion News Service reports that a Presbyterian minister who officiated at a lesbian wedding in 2005 is heading for church court again, two years after charges against her were dismissed on a technicality. The Rev. Janet Edwards of Pittsburgh will again face possible expulsion if convicted by the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Pittsburgh Presbytery. Edwards will appear before the commission Oct. 1, to answer charges that she defied her ordination vows and Presbyterian Church (USA) rules by officiating at the Pittsburgh wedding of a lesbian couple in 2005. "I am trying really hard to speak clearly about how what I did reflects Jesus' love and justice, and so I hope the permanent judicial council acquits me," Edwards said. The PCUSA allows ministers to perform same-sex unions as long as they are not equated with traditional marriage.

India: Hindu Extremists Suspected in Murder of Priest

Compass Direct News reports that Christian leaders in Andhra Pradesh suspect the grisly murder of a Catholic priest was the work of Hindu extremists and that police have prematurely ruled out that possibility. The battered body of Father Thomas Pandipally, 38, was found lying on a roadside in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh early on August 17. Rev. Father Alex Thannippara, a provincial superior of Pandipally's order, pointed out that on January 16 a mob of 500 people led by Hindu extremists prevented the Hyderabad archbishop from blessing the new building of an HIV/AIDS care center, and two years ago the school where the slain priest worked was also targeted. Andhra Pradesh has witnessed a strange trend of brutal and mysterious murders of Christian workers in the past eight years.

Women Theologians Urge Churches to Challenge Power Structures

A new international group has called for churches to be transforming agents against power structures that fail to respect human dignity, the Christian Post reports. Female theologians participating in the Feminist Discourse on Economy, Ecology and Empire in Bangalore, India, said in a statement, “There is an urgent need to bring together differing analyses and perspectives on the systemic roots of the life-threatening socio-economic and ecological crises and to explore possibilities of articulating a clear faith stance and envisioning a future beyond empire... In particular, it is crucial to include feminist/womanist thinking in the current debates in order to fully identify the theological and ethical challenges posed by empire." The conference was hosted by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and World Council of Churches (WCC).