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. 20, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 20, 2007

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

  • Africa: Church 'Was Complicit in Slave Trade, Racism, Colonialism'
  • World Hunger Fund Targets Food Crisis in Zimbabwe
  • 60,000 Pilgrims to Arrive in Israel for Christmas
  • Bishop Makes YouTube Appeal to Combat Sexualization of Children

Africa: Church 'Was Complicit in Slave Trade, Racism, Colonialism'

According to a report from the Catholic Information Service for Africa, Protestant and evangelical theologians want world Christianity to own up to its role in the horrific trading of Africans by Europeans up to 200 years ago. Slave trading particularly profited England, Portugal, France, Spain, and Holland, and is the basis for Euro-American wealth, the theologians said, suggesting that all people of white European ancestry - even those who had no direct involvement in the Slave Trade - nevertheless were beneficiaries of the system. And churches, says the report, either turned a blind eye or found reasons to support. "Many churches were actively involved in the Transatlantic Trade in Africans and colonialism; hence, the church's mission has been seriously compromised and betrayed by its historic complicity with two of the most blatant forms of oppression that occurred within the 16th to 19th centuries," the theologians said in Jamaica last week. The theologians also imply that today's pastors are hindered by failing to acknowledge sins of the past.

World Hunger Fund Targets Food Crisis in Zimbabwe

With food prices spiraling out of sight and their country's economy in ruins, the average family in Zimbabwe is struggling to survive, Baptist Press reports. Store shelves are devoid of basic necessities. Most items can be found on the black market, but few people can afford the inflated prices. A tomato could cost a month's wages. Southern Baptists are trying to help by shipping 1,000 boxes of food into Zimbabwe. Six hundred parcels are scheduled to be delivered before the Christmas holidays, and the remainder will arrive soon after. Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist development and relief organization, purchased the groceries, at a cost of about $70 per box, with money Southern Baptists donated to their World Hunger Fund. "Zimbabwe is in dire need," said Mark Hatfield, who leads Baptist Global Response work in sub-Saharan Africa and speaks of "ministering in a holistic way... We can connect people in need with people who care enough to help."

60,000 Pilgrims to Arrive in Israel for Christmas

According to Ynet News, approximately 60,000 Christian pilgrims are expected to arrive in Israel for the Christmas holiday, the Israeli Tourism Ministry reported Tuesday. The figure represents an estimated 50 percent increase from last year. About 1 million Christian tourists are expected to have visited Israel by the end of 2007, with about half of those being on a religious pilgrimage. Government and local authorities are currently investing efforts in facilitating smooth and easy passage from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and Nazareth.

Bishop Makes YouTube Appeal to Combat Sexualization of Children

CNSNews.com reports that a senior Australian churchman has turned to the popular online video-sharing site YouTube in an effort to raise awareness about the sexualization of children in the media and marketplace. Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier intends to decry the issue and calls for a national inquiry. The bombardment of advertising aimed at children carries a cost, Freier said in a message read against a backdrop of advertising images, magazine covers and children's faces. He cited climbing levels of chronic depression and eating disorders among children and adolescents. "Children have a right to their childhood, but we're stealing it away. The result is children obsessing about their body image and fashion, and young people becoming caught up in a culture of sex, drugs and violence," Freier said. "The best Christmas present we can give our children is a release from these pressures."