Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 26, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 26, 2010

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

In today's edition:

  • World Vision Wins Right to Hire, Fire Based on Religion
  • Victim of Orissa Violence Rescued from Trafficking Ring
  • Evangelists Say Muslims Coming to Christ at Historic Rate
  • ELCA Head Responds to Rival Lutheran Body

World Vision Wins Right to Hire, Fire Based on Religion

World Vision, the Christian humanitarian organization, can fire employees who disagree with its theological tenets, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday. In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that World Vision is a "religious corporation." As such, the organization is exempt from a federal law that bars faith-based discrimination, Religion News Service reports. "I am satisfied that World Vision has met its burden of showing that the `general picture' of the organization is 'primarily religious,'" wrote Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain. "World Vision is a nonprofit organization whose humanitarian relief efforts flow from a profound sense of religious mission."' Three employees, two of whom had worked at World Vision for 10 years, were fired in 2006 because they did not believe in the divinity of Jesus or the doctrine of the Trinity.

Victim of Orissa Violence Rescued from Trafficking Ring

Nearly two years after anti-Christian violence ravaged India's Orissa state, a team working against human trafficking has rescued a 16-year-old Christian girl sold into slavery during the 2008 attacks. The recovery in Delhi of the girl represented the cracking of a network that has trafficked Christian girls and women from Orissa to the national capital, Compass Direct News reports. The girl, whose name is withheld, is a tribal Christian who was sold into slavery along with her sister and two other girls during the violence. "Human trafficking agents operating in the tribal belt of Orissa have targeted the Christian girls who are displaced by the Kandhamal communal violence - we have been receiving complaints of missing girls from Kandhamal after the violence broke out in 2008," said attorney Lansinglu Rongmei, one of the rescue team members.

Evangelists Say Muslims Coming to Christ at Historic Rate

Despite intense persecution for Muslim apostates, pastors say that Muslims in the Middle East are converting to Christianity at record rates and in supernatural ways. "Probably in the last 10 years, more Muslims have come to faith in Christ than in the last 15 centuries of Islam," said Tom Doyle, Middle East-Central Asia director for e3 Partners, a Texas-based missions agency. According to Charisma Magazine, more than 200 former Muslims were baptized last month in Europe, led by Iran-born evangelist Lazarus Yeghnazar. Radio, television and Internet-based Christian programming to Muslim nations now reach millions. But Doyle says many Muslims come to faith after having dreams and visions of Jesus. "I can't tell you how many Muslims I've met who say: ‘I was content. I was a Muslim, and all of a sudden I get this dream about Jesus and He loved me and said come follow Me," Doyle said. 

ELCA Head Responds to Rival Lutheran Body

The head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) responded to plans for a rival church body, urging fellow Lutherans to avoid slander. "We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light," said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA, according to the Christian Post. The ELCA has shed thousands of members and whole parishes over the last year after voting to allow gays and lesbians in "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships" to serve as clergy. "It was not our choice to leave the ELCA, but the ELCA has chosen to reject 'the faith once delivered to the saints,'" explained Ryan Schwarz of Washington, D.C., chair of Lutheran CORE's Vision and Planning Working Group.