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Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 24, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 24, 2009

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

  • Pakistani Muslims Gun Down Christian Friend
  • Survey: Southerners Lead U.S. in Religious Devotion
  • British Vicar Criticized for Advocating Stealing

Pakistani Muslims Gun Down Christian Friend

Compass Direct News reports that a group of Muslims shot their Christian friend dead this month after saying they would spare his life only if he recanted his faith. The friends of Patras Masih, who died from gunshot wounds on Dec. 3 in Karol village, Punjab Province issued the ultimatum to him after accusing him of the murder of their friend Anees Mahammad. An autopsy reported showed Mahammad died from toxic alcohol earlier that day. Patras Masih's father, Gulzar Masih, said his son had no contact with Mahammad, and that his friends accused him of the murder only because he refused to recant Christianity and embrace Islam. Gulzar Masih said that when his son refused to recite the Islamic conversion creed, Sohail Muhammad, Imran Muhammad and Amir Muhammad sprayed bullets at his chest, killing him instantly. "He bravely embraced martyrdom," Gulzar Masih said.

Survey: Southerners Lead U.S. in Religious Devotion

Religion News Service reports that there's a reason the South is known as the Bible belt. A survey shows that Southerners -- and Mississippians in particular -- are most active in their religious practices and beliefs. Residents of Mississippi ranked first among Americans in all four measures of a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, with 82 percent saying religion is very important in their lives. Five other states had at least seven in 10 people stating that religion holds that kind of importance for them: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina. The findings, published online by the Pew Forum on Monday (Dec. 21) and drawn from data from its 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, mirror earlier results released by the Gallup Poll in January 2009, which also found Mississippi to be the most religious state.

British Vicar Criticized for Advocating Stealing

ASSIST News Service reports that an Anglican priest in the United Kingdom has stirred up a firestorm over his comments that poor people who are desperate this Christmas should shoplift from major stores. The Rev. Tim Jones said in his sermon this week that stealing from shops was the "least worst option" -- better than burglary, robbery or prostitution. Premier Radio says he told stunned parishioners at St Lawrence's in York that it would not break the eighth commandment 'Thou shalt not steal.' The Diocese of York says Jones is guilty of giving 'very bad advice' to poor people this Christmas. Eleanor Course, a spokesperson for the Diocese, said Jones was right to acknowledge the hardship facing poor families in this economy, but offered a very bad solution.