Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 19, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 19, 2009

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

  • Taliban Influence Increasing in Pakistan
  • Church Leaders: Christians Can Help Rebuild Iraq
  • Pope to Pelosi: Catholic Legislators Must Protect Life
  • ACLJ Ready to do Battle against 'Fairness Doctrine'

Taliban Influence Increasing in Pakistan

A resident of Pakistan has told ASSIST News Service that the Taliban already controls two-thirds of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of the country, and the provincial capital, Peshawar, continues to get “squeezed” from all sides. “If it falls, the rest of the province will too, and what's to stop them from spreading to other parts of Pakistan? This is a worse-case scenario, but it's already starting,” the contact told ANS. He went on to say that today (Monday Feb 16), the Provincial Assembly of the NWFP bowed to pressure from the Taliban and stamped their approval on a peace deal between the Taliban of the Swat valley and the NWFP government, which was reached the day before. “This new law, which applies to only one portion of the province, agrees to implement Sharia Law, a parallel system of justice, a key demand of the Taliban for the past two years,” he said. “Sharia law promises swift justice, something that the people from this valley have been wanting for a long time. Unfortunately, instead of responding to this need and fixing the current system of justice, the government has largely ignored this problem over the years. The Taliban have exploited this weakness."

Church Leaders: Christians Can Help Rebuild Iraq

The Christian Post reports that Iraqi church leaders at a meeting in Lebanon last week said Iraqi Christians should not be encouraged to migrate, but remain in their homeland with an aim toward rebuilding it. “The solution to current conditions lies not in emptying Iraq of its human resources,” said the church leaders. The February 10-11 meeting was organized by the World Council of Churches. The dozen representative called on Christians in Iraq “to stay in their homeland and participate actively in its rebuilding and development” despite severe persecution in recent years that has included kidnappings, death threats, and murders. The meeting also emphasized the importance of dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Iraq. The Christian population in Iraq is now about half of what it was before the U.S. led conflict in 2003.

Pope to Pelosi: Catholic Legislators Must Protect Life

According to Catholic News Service, Pope Benedict XVI met privately with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, and told her that all Catholics, especially those who are lawmakers, must work to protect human life at every stage. "His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death," the Vatican said in a statement about the Feb. 18 meeting. Pelosi, a Catholic Deomcrat from California, told interviewer Tom Brokaw last August, "We don't know" when life begins. "I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins." In a statement released by her staff following the 15-minute meeting, Pelosi said, "In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the church's leadership in fighting poverty, hunger and global warming, as well as the Holy Father's dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel." She also added that while efforts do need to be taken to reduce the number of abortions in the United States, she believes abortions must remain safe and legal.

ACLJ Ready to do Battle against 'Fairness Doctrine'

A report from OneNewsNow states that The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) is preparing to legally combat the FCC's "Fairness Doctrine" should it be revived. The rule was active from 1949 through 1987, and required radio and television stations to offer differing views on various subjects. Since 1987, several one-sided talk formats have emerged, especially in Christian/conservative circles. ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow claims the old ways amounted to censorship. "I use the example that we didn't go on the air until 1988 -- after the Fairness Doctrine was removed. So the reality is that without getting some type of fair play in there keeping it as it is, which is basically open airwaves, it's censorship. You could call it a lot of things, but it's really censorship... Mandatory government speech... is always dangerous." The ACLJ argues that talk of reviving the antiquated Fairness Doctrine is politically driven, "nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt by some liberal members of Congress to silence the conservatives who oppose them."