12 Days of Giveaways - Spin & Win! Sign up before Dec. 25th to win daily prizes and a $250 Amazon.com Gift Card. Find out details.

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 19, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 19, 2006

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

  • 7 Va. Episcopal Parishes Vote to Sever Ties

  • Islamic Extremist Threatens Christian Convert in India

  • Christian Lawyer in China Convicted of ‘Inciting Subversion’

  • German Minister Wants Curbs on Religious Freedom

7 Va. Episcopal Parishes Vote to Sever Ties

At least seven Virginia Episcopal parishes, opposed to the consecration of a gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions, have voted overwhelmingly to break from the U.S. church, the Washington Post reports. Two of the congregations are among the state's largest and most historic: Truro Church in Fairfax City and The Falls Church in Falls Church, which have roots in the 1700s. The two congregations are spearheading an effort to establish aconservative alternative to the Episcopal Church. The vote has the potential to create an intense battle over the property the churches are built upon. The other Virginia congregations that announced votes to leave the U.S. church are Church of the Apostles in Fairfax, St. Stephen's in Heathsville, St. Margaret's Church in Woodbridge, Potomac Falls Episcopal Church in Sterling and Church of the Word in Gainesville.

Islamic Extremist Threatens Christian Convert in India

A caller identifying himself as an Islamic terrorist has threatened to kill a Christian convert from Islam in the southern state of Kerala, Compass Direct News reports. Pastor Paul Ciniraj Mohammed, head of Salem Voice Ministries in Kottayam district, has already survived one suspected murder attempt. The extremist phoned Ciniraj on Thursday (December 14) and told him to “start counting your days, as we will kill you in a few days’ time.” Ciniraj told Compass, “He spoke to me in a very loud voice and said he was from an Islamist terrorist group.”

Convert Child Tried for Murder in Northern Iraq

A 14-year-old convert to Christianity faces murder charges for stabbing her uncle to death in northern Iraq. Asya Ahmad Muhammad is on trial in Dohuk city’s Juvenile Court for plunging a kitchen knife into her uncle’s chest last July after he began beating the teenager, her mother and younger brother. The dead man’s family claimed the need to restore “honor,” supposedly lost because his female relatives were working in public, prompted Sayeed Muhammad’s attack on his brother’s family. But the Christian girl’s defense lawyer said the real motive for the attack was religious. “The attack on Asya Muhammad and her mother was caused by [Sayeed Muhammad’s] family being upset with the father for becoming a Christian,” lawyer Akram Mikhael Al-Najar told Compass Direct News.

Mother and Infant Buried Alive, OBI Medical Teams Evacuate to Safety

For six grueling hours, Lillian remain buried alive with her 9-month-old son. A volcanic mudslide triggered by Typhoon Durian's high winds and heavy rains forced their home to collapse, killing her 3-year-old and five other family members. Trapped inside her home and waiting to die, Lillian directed her attention to her son. "I breast-fed him while we were buried," she said. "I did not want him to die with an empty stomach." Fortunately, Lillian and her son were rescued from her home, but it would be another eight days before relief workers could reach her isolated village of Buhatan by boat. On Friday, Dec. 8, Operation Blessing relief teams arrived to the remote coastal village of Buhatan and set up an emergency medical clinic to treat the village's sick and wounded. In addition to medical relief, food packs containing items such as noodles, rice, canned sardines and meat, sugar and hygiene items were distributed to approximately 300 families. When doctors discovered Lillian, they immediately evacuated her by boat to the mainland of Legazpi where an ambulance was waiting at the dock to rush them to the hospital. Lillian is one of nearly half a million residents who have been affected by Typhoon Durian that swept across the Philippines on Nov. 29.