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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 5, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 5, 2009

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

  • N. Korean Leader Reportedly Pardons U.S. Journalists
  • Pakistan Parliament Condemns Deadly Violence in Gojra
  • Christians Dispute Theory on Priest’s Death in India
  • Faith Groups More Likely to Attract Volunteers

N. Korean Leader Reportedly Pardons U.S. Journalists

CNN reports that two U.S. journalists jailed in North Korea will soon come home. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il ordered Laura Ling and Euna Lee pardoned and released after meeting with former U.S. President Bill Clinton Wednesday. "Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it," the state-run news agency KCNA reported. The paper insisted the move was "a manifestation of [North Korea]'s humanitarian and peace-loving policy." The journalists' families said they "are overjoyed by the news of their pardon. We are so grateful to our government" and those who worked to bring the women home. Their release comes just a week after reports that North Korea publicly executed a Christian woman on false charges.

Pakistan Parliament Condemns Deadly Violence in Gojra

ASSIST News Service reports that the Pakistani Parliament on Monday condemned the weekend killings of eight Christians in Gojra. Pakistan Parliament unanimously passed Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti’s resolution to condemn the killings, and leaders urged that those responsible be given full punishments under the law. Still, the fact remains that Christians are relegated to the lower classes and deprived full rights under the law. “Considering minorities as their easy and soft targets, extremist elements are targeting them," Bhatti said. Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that police questioned more than 200 people in connection with the deaths. Police are unsure if the mob that killed the Christians was spontaneous or coordinated by a militant group.

Christians Dispute Theory on Priest’s Death in India

Compass Direct News reports that the suspicious death of a 39-year-old priest in the southern state of Karnataka has further terrified Christians living in an area. Police, however, indicate that they doubt it is a homicide. The body of the parish priest of St. Mary’s Church, the Rev. James Mukalel, was found lying near his motorbike in Belthangady sub-district near Mangalore early on July 30. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) maintains that Mukalel, from Belthangady’s Syro-Malabar diocese, was killed. Officials at the CBCI said the death of the priest appeared to be suspicious and unnatural, as his body was found nearly naked lying on a remote roadside near the motorbike he had been riding. Superintendent of Police Subramayeshwar Rao told Compass that police believe Fr. James Mukalel died of poisoning, but are unsure if it was natural food poisoning or a deliberate act.

Faith Groups More Likely to Attract Volunteers

Religion News Service reports that more than one-third of the country's almost 62 million volunteers served through religious organizations last year, according to a recent survey by the Corporation for National and Community Service. "Religious organizations are a key source of potential volunteers for nonprofit organizations," said Nicola Goren, the corporation's chief executive officer. The "Volunteering in America 2009" report released on July 28 showed that adults over the age of 65 and youth who regularly attend religious services are more likely than general volunteers to serve in faith-based organizations. Also, youth from disadvantaged circumstances, who are least likely to volunteer, are most likely, when they do volunteer, to do so through their religious congregation.