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Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 22, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 22, 2007

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

  • Pakistan Court Acquits Six Christian Prisoners
  • Megachurches Desegregate Worship
  • This Friday, More than Half a Million American Teens Begin Fast to Help World's Hungry Children
  • Pope Urges Rediscovery of Prayer, Fasting, Works of Charity during Lent

Pakistan Court Acquits Six Christian Prisoners

Six Christian prisoners who are said to have been falsely implicated in a murder case some 10 years ago have been acquitted by Lahore High Court on Feb 16, 2007. ASSIST News Service learnt about the acquittal of the Christian prisoners through an email sent to it by Sharing Life Ministry’s Chief Coordinator, Sohail Johnson on Saturday, Feb 18. Slamming the delay in justice reaching to the prisoners the SLMP in its news release said: "Poor prisoners awaited 10 years for justice." Six Christian men named Akram, Sooba, Rakha, Samuel, Jan and Nazar are relatives to each other, it said. It went on to say that the men were implicated in a murder case registered vide Police First Information Report (FIR) No. 608 on December 3, 1997.

Megachurches Desegregate Worship

The Christian Post reports that Sundays at the evangelical Grace Chapel megachurch in Massachusetts look like the American ideal of race relations: African-American, Haitian, white, Chinese and Korean families sing along with a white, guitar-playing pastor. Most U.S. churches have nothing close to this kind of ethnic mix. But researchers who study race and religion say a vanguard of megachurches is helping break down racial barriers in American Christianity. "Megachurches as a whole are significantly better than other congregations at holding together multiracial, multiethnic congregations," said Scott Thumma, an expert on megachurches and a professor at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. "It's absolutely clear." Minorities make up 20 percent or more of worshippers in nearly one-third of the nation's 1,200 megachurches.

This Friday, More than Half a Million American Teens Begin Fast to Help World's Hungry Children

This Friday, February 23rd, more than 500,000 American teens nationwide will take part in World Vision's 30 Hour Famine, forsaking food for 30 hours to get a taste of what the world's poorest children and families face everyday. According to a new United Nations food report, hunger and malnutrition will claim 18,000 lives - each day. When the impact of preventable, hunger-related diseases is added in, that number jumps dramatically - to 29,000 children a day because malnutrition makes children more susceptible. The World Food Programme's James Morris tells the Associated Press, "Today, 850 million people are hungry and malnourished. Over half of them are children. 18,000 children die every single day because of hunger and malnutrition. This is a shameful fact -- a terrible indictment of the world in 2007, and it's an issue that needs to be solved." Energized with compassion rather than food during their fast, 30 Hour Famine participants gather, representing schools, churches, youth and civic organizations and consume only water and fruit juices focusing on activities like food drives, serving in soup kitchens, or assisting in homeless shelters.

Pope Urges Rediscovery of Prayer, Fasting, Works of Charity during Lent

Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics to rediscover the traditional "penitential weapons" of prayer, fasting and works of charity in order to make Lent a time of inner renewal, Catholic News Service reports. The pope, dressed in the purple vestments of the Lenten season, said the 40 days leading up to Easter should be a time to revive the "friendship with God that was lost through sin." The church, he said, offers the same ascetic instruments that have proven effective through the centuries. "Jesus indicates the useful instruments needed for authentic interior and community renewal: the works of charity or almsgiving, prayer, and penitence or fasting," the pope said. He said these practices should be performed to please God and not to gain people's approval.