Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 23, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 23, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Evangelist Arrested in Zanzibar, Tanzania
  • Prayer Urged for Millions Affected by Pakistan Floods
  • Catholic Charity Loses Bid to Refuse Adoption Services to Gay Couples
  • Church Vows to Burn Qurans without Fire Permit

Evangelist Arrested in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Compass Direct News reports that a Christian leader has been jailed on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. Sources said Peter Masanja, an evangelist in the predominantly Muslim area, was arrested by security agents sometime in early August. Masanja, a member of the Pentecostal Church in Zanzibar, would invite Christians to his house, as he had made part of his land available for church activities. Angry Muslims reportedly vowed to prohibit any Christian activities there. Pastors from Tanzania's Zanzibar Island sought to meet with prison authorities about Masanja's arrest, but officials informed them that the person in charge of the prison was away on official business, said Bishop Obeid Fabian, chairman of an association of congregations known as the Fraternal Churches.

Prayer Urged for Millions Affected by Pakistan Floods

Christian church groups in Pakistan are asking the worldwide Christian community to pray for an estimated 3-4 million people who have been affected by the country's worst flooding in 70 years. The flooding has resulted in the deaths of over 1,600 Pakistanis, the homelessness of millions and the loss of billions of dollars in destroyed crops. "Not only are Christians being targeted for the belief in Jesus Christ, but now many have been devastated by the flooding," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Carl Moeller. "Please join me in prayer for the Christian community there." One of Open Doors church contacts in the country said, "We are concerned that Christians will be sidelined in relief efforts, and are working to provide immediate assistance." Pakistan's Christians are routinely treated as second-class citizens, but have little legal recourse when they face discrimination.

Catholic Charity Loses Bid to Refuse Adoption Services to Gay Couples

A Catholic adoption agency in England has been effectively shuttered for refusing to place children with gay couples. The Christian Post reports that Catholic Care, the social care organization of the Diocese of Leeds, lost its fight with regulators to rewrite its constitution in a way more closely aligned with the Roman Catholic Church. But the commission concluded "that it would not be justified in the circumstances for the charity to discriminate in this way." The group's spokesperson released a statement saying the group will try to find another route to support married heterosexual couples who adopt. "There is a world of difference between expecting you to live in a society where people do different things and have different values and living in a society where people are forced actively to facilitate things that are against their consciences," said Ann Widdecombe, a former Conservative Party minister.

Church Vows to Burn Qurans without Fire Permit   

Fire officials in Gainesville, Fla., have denied a permit to a church that wants to burn Qurans on Sept. 11, but church officials said they'll go ahead with the protest that has garnered worldwide attention. According to Religion News Service, leaders of the Dove World Outreach Center say "Islam is of the Devil" and plan to burn copies of the Islamic holy book on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Gene Prince, interim chief of Gainesville Fire Rescue, informed the church on Aug. 17 that the protest violates local fire-prevention laws, which include rules against burning corrugate cardboard or office paper, which includes books. Regardless, the church sent out an e-mail vowing to go burn the books anyway. "City of Gainesville denies burn permit -- BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS," The Sun reported.