Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 27, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 27, 2007

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

  • American Christians Encouraging Iranian Jews to Move to Israel
  • Building of Children's Hospital in Bethlehem Unites Three Faiths
  • Christians Urged to Rally Behind Student Suing Teacher
  • Panel: World Needs to Pressure Sudan

American Christians Encouraging Iranian Jews to Move to Israel

According to, Israel for the first time is publicly urging the entire Iranian Jewish community to immigrate to Israel -- and American Christians are providing the financial incentives for them to do so. Forty new immigrants from Iran arrived in Israel on Tuesday, the largest single group of Iranian Jews to move here in decades. Some 200 Iranian Jews have immigrated to Israel in 2007, up from just 65 in 2006. But this is the first time that their arrival has been such a public occasion. Michael Jankelowitz, a spokesman for the Jewish Agency, the quasi-governmental organization responsible for Jewish immigration to Israel, told Cybercast News Service that the Jewish Agency went public with the immigration story at this time for two reasons: to send a message to the Iranian Jews that world Jewry wants to help them; and to let the Iranian regime know that its Jewish citizens are not alone. "God-willing" all the Iranian Jews will come to Israel, Jankelowitz said.

Building of Children's Hospital in Bethlehem Unites Three Faiths

CURE International, a U.S.-based Christian medical NGO, broke ground Dec. 18 for a $16.5 million state-of-the art medical training center and hospital in the Shepherd's Field in Bethlehem.  The project, involving Christians, Muslims and Jews, will provide the first specialty surgical care available to Palestinian children in the West Bank. Dr. Scott Harrison, president and CEO of CURE International, was joined on the platform by the Governor of Bethlehem and the Mayor of the surrounding Beit Sahour municipality, for an hour-long ceremony attended by nearly 150 local dignitaries and residents. “As the world focuses on bringing peace to this volatile region, CURE International is leading the way as an agent of reconciliation by building a hospital to bring desperately needed healing, hope and transformation for children and their families throughout the West Bank,” said Harrison in a news release. “We don't need to wait for national leaders to come to an agreement on how to work out their problems,” Harrison added. “Today, we can begin working together on this cardiac and orthopedic hospital that fills a major need in the West Bank, where medical care is severely limited.” The news release stated that according to Harrison, there are 350 million disabled children in the world. CURE International focuses on the 140 million who can be cured, providing care by training nationals to be experts in care provision.

Christians Urged to Rally Behind Student Suing Teacher

Days after hundreds of students rallied in support of a California history teacher accused of anti-Christian comments, a pastor who led a counter prayer vigil that day called on Christians worldwide to join in the fight against Christian bigotry. The Christian Post reports that over 200 protesters, including students, alumni, and parents, had gathered Wednesday in front of Capistrano Valley High School to defend James Corbett, an AP European history teacher charged with making "derogatory remarks" in class against Christians and traditional viewpoints of conservative Christians. Pastor Wiley Drake of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park was among the smaller group of protestors who showed up and voiced their support for sophomore Chad Farnan, the student behind the suit. Drake, who has served as the second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is urging "Christian prayer warriors from around the world" to support the Farnan family by leaving messages of encouragement on a special prayer line every morning, contacting members of the school district's board, and sending emails of prayer and support to members of the family.

Panel: World Needs to Pressure Sudan

Baptist Press reports that a recent Washington panel discussion on the current human rights crisis in Sudan concluded that a solution depends on the United States and the international community pressuring that country's militant Islamic regime to implement a recent peace treaty it agreed to. The United States' response to the continuing disaster has been "very inadequate," said John Prendergast, co-chairman of the anti-genocidal ENOUGH Project. Washington must partner with other countries -– such as China, Great Britain and France -– in order to work with Sudan's neighbors to influence leaders in the capital of Khartoum, Prendergast said.  "Then you've got a chance," he said. "Right now we don't have a chance, frankly. There isn't any leverage." Darfur, in the western region of Sudan, has been the scene of a grave humanitarian crisis since 2003, when the militias, known as Janjaweed, began what President Bush has described as "genocide" in response to rebel attacks on government bases. The crisis in Darfur is based on ethnic differences, with the Arab Muslim militias raping, kidnapping, bombing and murdering African Muslims. It has been estimated more than 400,000 people have died and at least 2 million have been left homeless in the area.