Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 31, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 31, 2008

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

  • Ebola Death Toll Rising in DR Congo
  • Christmas Peaceful in India
  • NJ Rules against Church Group in Gay Rights Case
  • Atheist Group Files Lawsuit against Prayer at Inauguration

Ebola Death Toll Rising in DR Congo

BBC News reports that 11 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo have died in an outbreak of Ebola. Aid workers with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) are treating another 24 suspected Ebola cases, and are monitoring more than 100 others who may have been exposed. The killer outbreak began in Western Kasai province in late November, and has since contributed to the fear and confusion faced by displaced refugees in Congo's civil war. Workers report that this is only the fourth outbreak of the virus in the Congo since 1976. According to BBC, Ebola is a highly infectious bleeding fever that kills 80 percent of those it infects. There is no known cure.

Christmas Peaceful in India

Mission News Network reports that threats of Christmas Day violence by Hindu extremists were not acted out, allowing Christians in India to celebrate peacefully. The day stood in marked contrasted to the holiday last year, when Hindu extremists perpetrated massive attacks on Christians, their homes and their churches. Founder and President of Gospel for Asia KP Yohannan said, "By God's grace and in answer to prayer from people around the world, I believe, the state government stepped in and said, 'Anyone causing disturbances in the state would be arrested and punished severely.'" Although thousands remain in refugee camps, all were able to celebrate and worship publicly.

NJ Rules against Church Group in Gay Rights Case

The Christian Post reports that a New Jersey department ruled Monday that a church group's beachfront property should have open to a lesbian couple as the location for their civil union ceremony. The controversial case began in March 2007, when the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association refused to rent the location to the couple on religious grounds. The couple sued, saying the camp's refusal was discrimination against gays. Larry Lustberg, the lawyer for the couple, said they will now seek an order that requires the pavilion to be "open to all on an equal basis." Brian Raum, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund representing the Camp Meeting, said, "A Christian organization has a constitutional right to use their facilities in a way that is consistent with their beliefs."

Atheist Group Files Lawsuit against Prayer at Inauguration

Fox News reports that an atheists group has filed a lawsuit to prevent prayer at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says that allowing prayer shows government picking between "believers" and "those who don't believe," thus "subjecting atheists and agnostics to someone else's religious beliefs." The lawsuit also seeks to remove the phrase "So help me God" from the presidential oath of office. "The inauguration is not a religious event. It is a secular event of a secular country that includes all Americans, including those of us who are not Christians, including those of us who are not believers," Barker continued.