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Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 19, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 19, 2010

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

  • Christian Student Killed in Iraq; Fourth Murder in Week
  • Ethiopian Convert Still Jailed Despite Lack of Charges
  • Church of England Launches Web Prayer Service
  • Wiccan Chaplain Battles for State Recognition

Christian Student Killed in Iraq; Fourth Murder in Week

The Christian Post reports that another Christian student was killed in the Iraqi city of Mosul this week. Wissam George, 20, was shot and killed on Wednesday, becoming the fourth Christian gunned down in Mosul this week. Two other Christians, Rayan Salem Elias and Fatukhi Munir, were shot outside their home and shop respectively on Monday. Christian student Zia Toma, 21, was killed on Tuesday in a shooting that wounded another student, Ramsin Shmael. "We don't want elections, we don't want representatives, we don't want our rights, we just want to be alive," Baasil Abdul Noor, a priest at Mar Behnam church in Mosul, declared Tuesday. "It has become a nightmare," he said. "The security forces should not be standing by and watching. We hold them responsible, because they are supposed to be protecting us, and protecting all Iraqis."

Ethiopian Convert Still Jailed Despite Lack of Charges

Compass Direct News reports that prosecutors and police are trying to concoct a terrorism case against an Ethiopian convert who has been jailed since May without formal charges, Christian leaders said. Bashir Musa Ahmed, 29, was arrested on May 23 when police found him in possession of eight Bibles in Jijiga, capital of Ethiopia's Somali Region Zone Five, a predominantly Muslim area in eastern Ethiopia. Zonal police arrested him after he was accused of providing Muslims with the Somali-language Bibles, sources said, though Ethiopia's constitution protects such activity. A state official joined Christian leaders in stating that Islamist interests have kept Ahmed in jail in spite of the state's failure to find any legitimate charge against him. Ahmed was first arrested for "malicious" distribution of the widely-available Bible translation.

Church of England Launches Web Prayer Service

Christian Today reports that the Church of England is trying to help Lent go viral. The church has launched a web-based prayer service available until Easter Sunday where anyone can submit their prayers. Bishops will pray the requests left anonymously at SayOneForMe.org. "Our visits today and the new website are both simple ways for us to harness that desire and engage with people where they are," said the Bishop of Dudley, the Rt. Rev. David Walker. "Of course, nobody needs a dog collar to be heard by God, but for many people, knowing that someone else is praying for us gives us the confidence to make our own prayers, and prayer is often the gateway to hope." Many Church of England bishops hit the streets yesterday to invite offers of prayers.

Wiccan Chaplain Battles for State Recognition

Religion News Service reports that a volunteer Wiccan chaplain is headed to a federal appeals court in an attempt to get California to hire prison clergy outside five religious categories. Supported by interfaith scholars and church-state separationists, the Rev. Patrick McCollum argues that the state policy has the "pernicious effect" of depriving inmates of other religious backgrounds from getting the services they need and deserve. The court challenge began when McCollum, 59, a prominent leader in Wiccan and correctional circles, applied and was rejected for a full-time position as a chaplain in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. "When I got to the personnel office, they refused to give me an application to apply for a state job because they knew that I was a Wiccan," said McCollum, director of Our Lady of the Wells Church in Moraga, Calif., and leader of the National Correctional Chaplaincy Directors Association. "They never reviewed my qualifications."