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Religion Today Summaries - August 31, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 31, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Clergy, First Responders Excluded from 9/11 Ceremony
  • New Yorkers More Spiritually Active Since 9/11
  • Hapless Conditions for Christians and Jews in Afghanistan
  • Turkey Overturns Historic Religious Property Seizures


Clergy, First Responders Excluded from 9/11 Ceremony

On the heels of New York City's announcement that police, firefighters and other volunteers will not be invited to the 10th anniversary ceremony for September 11, religious leaders are now voicing their disappopintment that priests, rabbis and ministers will likewise be excluded. According to a report in The Examiner, the religious leaders in New York City are requesting Mayor Mike Bloomberg to rescind the ban. Retired police officer Edie Rojas said, "For days after the World Trade Center collapsed, I attended funerals of our honored dead... men from the bomb squad, emergency services, people who were family. And now I'm told I'm not invited?" "Actually, the Mayor, President [Barack Obama] and most of the 'honored guests' had nothing to do with 9/11 except they give speeches and talk about tolerance towards Muslims, as if we are children," said one decorated police detective.

New Yorkers More Spiritually Active Since 9/11

New York-area residents are more spiritually active since 9/11, a new survey shows, but the uptick in faith may be a matter of coincidence rather than a religious response to the terrorist attacks, Religion News Service reports. The Barna Group found that 46 percent of people living in or near New York City reported attending worship services in the previous week in 2010, up from 31 percent in 2000. However, the upward trend didn't kick in until after 2004, said David Kinnaman, Barna's president. "The research suggests that faith and religion took on new urgency for many New Yorkers after 9/11, but the impact was neither immediate nor long-lived," said Kinnaman. "While ... religion's importance did grow in the years after 9/11, church attendance and active faith measures did not really start increasing until after 2004." Researchers found that more New Yorkers are spending time reading the Bible on their own, up from 29 percent in 1997-98 to 35 percent in 2009-10. Nationwide, personal Bible reading has remained essentially unchanged in the last decade.

Hapless Conditions for Christians and Jews in Afghanistan

Christians and Jews from many nations, irrespective of their denomination, are seen as infidels by al-Qaeda and its allied insurgent bodies, including all groups of Taliban. ASSIST News Service learned through the firsthand accounts of some of the victims after visiting Afghanistan that Christians and Jews residing in Afghanistan are viewed as agents of U.S. government agencies, particularly FBI or CIA, and therefore are tortured and interrogated in an inhumane manner, and finally slaughtered. ANS also learned that another method of torture adapted by al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan is to compel trussed-up helpless Christians and Jews to sit on an iron chair while three or four candles burning beneath the chair roast their flesh. This is carried out to force them to confess crimes they haven’t committed and disclose, under duress, that they were agents of the FBI or CIA. A Christian in Afghanistan told ANS, on condition of anonymity, that in some cases allegations of suicide bombings and other untoward incidents were also leveled against Christians or Jews, and they were thrown into prison on suspicion of their involvement.

Turkey Overturns Historic Religious Property Seizures

The Turkish government made a historic U-turn in state policy this past weekend, issuing an official decree inviting Turkey’s Christian and Jewish communities to reclaim their long-confiscated religious properties, Compass Direct News reports. The August 27 decree comes 75 years after the Turkish government seized hundreds of lands and buildings owned by its Greek, Armenian, Syriac and Jewish communities. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the surprise decision on Sunday evening in Istanbul, addressing a large gathering of non-Muslim religious leaders representing 161 minority foundations. Erdogan declared, “The times when citizens in our country were oppressed for their beliefs, their ethnic heritage or the way they dressed is over.” The landmark decree is a significant step toward eliminating decades of unfair practices imposed by the Turkish state against its non-Muslim citizens.