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Religion Today Summaries - August 16, 2011

Religion Today

Religion Today Summaries - August 16, 2011

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

  • Ugandan Girl, 14, Loses Use of Legs for Leaving Islam for Christianity
  • Megachurch Pastor Zachery Tims Found Dead in NYC Hotel Room
  • Somalia Famine Aid Stolen; UN Investigating
  • Washington State: Church Can Picnic in Public Park, but not Baptize

Ugandan Girl, 14, Loses Use of Legs for Leaving Islam for Christianity

A 14-year-old girl in western Uganda is still unable to walk 10 months after her father tortured her for leaving Islam and putting her faith in Christ, according to Compass Direct News. Susan Ithungu of Kasese district has been hospitalized since October 2010 after neighbors with police help rescued her from her father, Beya Baluku. He was arrested shortly afterward but quickly released. Susan and her younger brother, Mbusa Baluku, lived alone with their father after he divorced their mother. In March 2010 an evangelist from Bwera Full Gospel Church spoke at Susan’s school, and she decided to trust Christ for her salvation. “I heard the message of Christ’s great love of him dying for us to get everlasting peace, and there and then I decided to believe in Christ,” she said from her hospital bed. “After a month, news reached my father that I had converted to Christianity, and that was the beginning of my troubles with him.”

Megachurch Pastor Zachery Tims Found Dead in NYC Hotel Room

The Christian Post
reports that Zachery Tims, pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, was found dead in a New York City hotel room. He leaves behind four children. Tims, who had often appeared on TBN's "Praise the Lord" show, was found about 6 p.m. on Friday. Foul play is not suspected, but an autopsy is pending. Tims and his family founded NDCC and shepherded its membership of 8,000. According to his biography on NDCC’s website, Tims had a troubled youth before he was “miraculously saved, instantly delivered from drug addiction, and called into ministry.” Tims and his wife divorced in 2009.

Somalia Famine Aid Stolen; UN Investigating

An Associated Press report indicates that thousands of sacks of food aid meant for Somalia's famine victims have been stolen and are being sold at markets. The U.N.'s World Food Program acknowledged it has been investigating food theft in Somalia for two months. Estimates show that "many unnecessary deaths" will result from the slightest interruption in food assistance. More than 450,000 Somalis live in famine zones controlled by al-Qaida-linked militants, where aid is difficult to deliver. There has long been suspicion that some food aid would go missing unexpectedly, but "the sheer scale of the theft taking place calls into question aid groups' ability to reach the starving." There is also concern that the stolen aid not only robs from those who need it but that it is being used to fuel "the power groups that make a business out of the disaster," said Joakim Gundel, who heads Katuni Consult, a Nairobi-based company often asked to evaluate international aid efforts in Somalia. "You're saving people's lives today so they can die tomorrow."

Washington State: Church Can Picnic in Public Park, but not Baptize

According to The Seattle Times, the state Department of General Administration has refused to give a permit to an Olympia church that wants to hold a baptism along with its barbecue and picnic Sunday at Heritage Park on the Capitol Campus. The state constitution does not allow for state resources to be used for the exercise of religion, ruled Jane Rushford, acting director of the department. "We are approving their use of Heritage Park for the purpose of a picnic, a barbecue. We are denying their permit for the purpose of holding a baptism," said agency spokesman Jim Erskine. The church held picnics two previous years in Heritage Park without incident, and its permit this year lets it move forward with another picnic-barbecue at noon Sunday. It was not clear whether a legal challenge will ensue."