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Religion Today Summaries - December 15, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 15, 2005

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.


In today's edition:

Hindu Extremists Desecrate Church, Force Pastor to Move

ASSIST News Service


Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan has called for worldwide prayer for an Indian pastor and his family after Hindu radicals took over their home and church building. "Something very bad has happened to one of our churches in India, and I want to ask you to earnestly pray for this very serious situation," Yohannan wrote in an e-mail to ministry supporters. "Not long ago, I wrote you about the 60 new believers in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh who were threatened with death if they did not return to Hinduism. And we all thanked God when He answered our prayers and the Christians were spared," Yohannan said. "Now, however, the place where that church was meeting has been forcefully taken over by radical Hindus and turned into a temple. It is the first time in the 26-year history of Gospel for Asia that a place of worship has been taken over and defiled as a temple." Believers Church pastor Ramesh Masih Bhatti and his family have been forced to move from the building, which was their home for the past 25 years, and are now living with relatives. Local officials have done nothing about the take-over, and in fact have apparently sided with the Hindus.


German Bishop: The Tide of Secularism Is Turning

ASSIST News Service


Western Europe has been riding on a wave of secularism, but the tide seems to be turning. This year has seen a resurgence of interest in religion, fueled by natural catastrophes and major church events that have aroused new interest in God, said the leader of the mainline Protestant Churches in Germany, Bishop Wolfgang Huber. Many secular people are asking questions like “Are such disasters an expression of God’s wrath or of his impotence?” Are they indications that God does not exist, “or do they lead us to the point where we – in all our helplessness – seek a foothold in Him?” Faith in God’s omnipotence does not guarantee a happy ending, said Huber. But it grants a confidence, which carries through good and bad times. The church, he said, must be close to seekers who still carry doubts in their hearts. Many Europeans are longing to find a new access to the faith, said Huber. The receding numbers of membership cancellations and the growing number of Protestants rejoining the church underline this trend. New interest in religion was also aroused by the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of his successor Benedict XVI. In Germany, mass events like the Catholic World Youth Day in Cologne with a million participants and the Protestant “Kirchentag” in Hanover with 200,000 also made an impact.


Human Rights Must Be Respected, Pope Says in World Peace Day Message

Catholic News Service


Even in the midst of war, basic human rights must be respected and all parties involved must work to end hostilities, Pope Benedict XVI said in his message for World Peace Day 2006. International humanitarian law is "binding on all peoples" even in times of war, he said. The pope began his message by offering his best wishes to all people of good will, "especially those who are suffering as a result of violence and armed conflict." "My greeting is one filled with hope for a more serene world, a world in which more and more individuals and communities are committed to the paths of justice and peace," Pope Benedict wrote. The message focused on truth as the foundation for peace -- the truth that all people are created in the image and likeness of God with equal dignity, that God has a plan for humanity, and that good and evil exist and can be recognized by all people. Pope Benedict quoted the Second Vatican Council, which said, "Not everything automatically becomes permissible between hostile parties once war has regrettably commenced."


University of  California Accused of Christian Bias

Scripps Howard News Service


University of California officials say some lessons in Christian school textbooks don't meet their admissions standards. Their belief has led to a lawsuit that pits the public university system against six students of a Christian school who say their religious views hurt their chances of being accepted for enrollment by the university system. The lawsuit highlights a growing nationwide clash over what, and how, high school students should learn before college. The suit centers on three classes – one literature and two history – offered at the Murrieta school that university officials have refused to certify for admissions credit, identifying them and the textbooks they use as biased or contradictory to knowledge "generally accepted" in the collegiate community. University officials argue that they have a right to set admissions standards to ensure that students are ready for college and say they consistently reject courses from both public and private schools for not meeting those benchmarks." Robert Tyler, one of Calvary Chapel Christian School's attorneys, countered by saying, “There is a trend in higher education to eliminate God from everything.”