Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 12, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 12, 2009

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

  • British MP’s Move to Investigate Church Closures in Burma
  • Orthodox Anglicans Don't Expect Unity for Long
  • Alabama, Iran Not So Different, Survey Finds
  • Dairy Cows Improve Lives for Destitute Bengali Women


British MP’s Move to Investigate Church Closures in Burma

ASSIST News Service reports that recent forcible church closures in Rangoon, Burma (also known as Myanmar), as caught the attention of British Members of Parliament. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a British-based human rights group, at least 33 MP's have signed legislation calling on the on the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion and Belief to investigate violations of religious freedom in Burma. The move follows reports received by CSW of the January closure of at least 100 churches in Rangoon. CSW said the church closures mark the most significant crackdown on Christian activity in Burma in recent years, affecting as many as 80 per cent of churches in Rangoon. Fifty pastors were forced to sign documents promising to stop holding church services, under threat of prison for non-compliance.

Orthodox Anglicans Don't Expect Unity for Long

The Christian Post reports that the recent Anglican Primates Conference in Alexandria, Egypt, only covered up fault lines in the crumbling Communion. In an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, leading conservative and Nigerian Archbishop Peter J. Akinola wrote, "It now seems increasingly clear that without a radical change of behavior on the part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada the only possible outcome of such a process is acknowledgment of a bitter truth that the differences in the words of Archbishop Idris Jones are 'irreconcilable.'" Akinola acknowledged the greviousness of a split, but cited moves by dioceses in the U.S. and Canada to go through with same-sex blessings. These actions contradict the primates' decision to uphold a moratorium on gay ordination and gay marriage blessings.

Alabama, Iran Not So Different, Survey Finds

Religion News Service reports that while Baptists in Tuscaloosa and Muslims in Tehran might not seem to have much in common, but both agree on one thing: the importance of religion. Nearly identical percentages of people in both locations -- 82 percent of Alabamians and 83 percent of Iranians -- say religion is an important part of their daily lives. The Agence France-Presse also picked up the story. The comparisons come from the Gallup Poll, which recently compiled findings about the importance of faith to individuals in all 50 states and 143 countries. "Georgians in the United States are about as religious as Georgians in the Caucasus region," wrote Steve Crabtree and Brett Pelham, in a Monday (Feb. 9) report on the Gallup Web site. The global findings are based on face-to-face and telephone interviews conducted between 2006 and 2008 of about 1,000 adults per country.

Dairy Cows Improve Lives for Destitute Bengali Women

Baptist Press reports that a dozen widows and abandoned women in India's West Bengal state are now better able to care for their families, thanks to a Southern Baptist development project that drew on $22,000 from the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. The project focused on women in two villages who were living in desperate poverty, some with small children who were suffering from malnutrition. Because they were members of a minority religious group, many of their neighbors looked down on them and would not help. A field pastor spearheaded the campaign to improve the families' lives by giving them dairy cows and showing them how to care for it. The cows, which cost as little as $80 per family, provide the women with a steady source of income to support and feed their families.