Religion Today Summaries - August 15, 2011

Religion Today

Religion Today Summaries - August 15, 2011

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

  • Christians Call on Prime Minister to Address Family Breakdown in 'Broken Britain'
  • Starbucks Founder Pulls Out of Willow Creek Event
  • China: CSW Calls for Release of Gao Zhiseng
  • Somalia: Aid Groups Battle Acute Malnutrition

Christians Call on Prime Minister to Address Family Breakdown in 'Broken Britain'

As Parliament reconvenes over the recent violence in the United Kingdom, a Christian social policy group is calling on British Prime Minister David Cameron to re-engage with the 'broken society' agenda, ASSIST News Service reports ( The group wants to see the Prime Minister put special emphasis on tackling family breakdown and the "crisis of fatherlessness." CARE’s director of parliamentary affairs, Dan Boucher, said it was unlikely that there was a single explanation for the riots, but added that a “key element” in the mix was the place of the family and the role of fathers. “When in opposition, David Cameron spoke at great length about the ‘broken society’ and about how a Conservative government would ‘fix broken Britain’,” he said. “He was very clear that one of the key drivers of the broken Britain phenomenon was family breakdown and fatherlessness, and interestingly polling demonstrates that this resonated far more effectively with the public than his subsequent focus on the Big Society ever has,” said Boucher. "The sad fact is that without a functional family, children and young people will be more vulnerable to the appeal of the surrogate family of the gang which is well able to provide an alternative, and deeply destructive sense of identity, belonging and purpose,” added Boucher.

Starbucks Founder Pulls Out of Willow Creek Event

Shortly before he was scheduled to address 165,000 people at the annual Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz ( withdrew, thanks to a petition signed by only 700 people on the liberal website, WORLD News Service reports. The petition objects not to the purpose or content of the annual leadership summit, but to former associations of the host. Willow Creek Community Church once had a relationship with Exodus International, a Florida-based ministry that reaches out to homosexuals wishing to leave the lifestyle. called for a Starbucks boycott, calling Willow Creek “an anti-gay church” and saying that not denouncing conversion therapy “is tacit approval.” Homosexual activists have targeted a growing number of corporations working with churches and ministries on various projects. The activists call conservative Christian groups “hate groups” and the label seems to be sticking. Willow Creek Senior Pastor Bill Hybels said at the summit the church let Schultz out of his contract without penalty after discussing the petition with him. Noting Schultz “had to read through some tough e-mails,” Hybels encouraged conference attendees to send him something nicer — and to continue buying Starbucks coffee.

China: CSW Calls for Release of Gao Zhiseng

The missing Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s 2006 probationary sentence for “subversion of state power” is due to expire on 14 August. He has not been heard from for almost 18 months and repeated inquiries to the Chinese authorities have not been met with a response, says a Christian Solidarity Worldwise release. Gao Zhisheng was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and five years’ probation in 2006. In a letter to Gao, published by China Aid, his wife Geng He wrote, “This August 14 is the last day of the probation period and should be the date when you regain freedom. I am looking forward to this day and to hearing your voice and to our family being reunited. The whole family looks forward to this day!” The prominent self-taught lawyer, twice-nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, first went missing on 4 February 2009. Following a brief reappearance in March 2010, Gao went missing again on 20 April as he travelled home to Beijing after visiting relatives in Xinjiang province. He reported being subject to severe torture in detention and there are grave concerns for his health and wellbeing.

Somalia: Aid Groups Battle Acute Malnutrition

According to WORLD News Service, militants in Somalia continue to be the biggest stumbling block to delivering aid to the famine-plagued country — despite pleas from the international community and a UN announcement that acute malnutrition in the country is spreading. But humanitarian groups working in surrounding countries like Kenya and Ethiopia are providing a way for the outside world to help. On Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked group that controls large parts of Somalia and has blocked food and grain shipments, to allow aid to move “unfettered” into famine areas. At the same time, the UN declared four new areas of the country, including areas near Mogadishu, the capital, as surpassing famine thresholds. “A humanitarian emergency persists across all other regions of southern Somalia, and tens of thousands of excess deaths have already occurred,” announced UN food and security analysts in neighboring Kenya. Despite increased attention since the UN first declared the famine in July, the international response remains “inadequate”—due largely to restrictions by militants. As a result, experts believe the famine will continue to widen across all regions of southern Somalia and to persist at least until December.