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Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 26, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 26, 2009

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

  • Anglican Bishops Launch Lent Appeal for Zimbabwe
  • Survey: 7 in 10 Ministries Report Little, No Loss in Donations
  • Myanmar Government Tightens Access to Country
  • Supreme Court to Consider Mohave Desert Cross Case

Anglican Bishops Launch Lent Appeal for Zimbabwe

The Christian Post reports that the world's top Anglican leaders asked Anglicans to spend Ash Wednesday in prayer and fasting for the country of Zimbabwe. Archbishops Rowan Williams and John Sentamu echoed sentiments expressed at a global gathering of bishops last month in Alexandria, Egypt, warning that Zimbabwe and its people are dying “a slow death...[which is] only intermittently newsworthy.” Meanwhile, World Vision announced a new initiative to provide Zimbabwe's children with clean drinking water and tools to protect themselves against the spread of cholera, which has already killed more 3,8000 in Zimbabwe. A $200,000 grant from Proctor & Gamble will provide an estimated 250,000 people with water purifying kits and cholera prevention and response training. “With an average of one new cholera case in Zimbabwe per minute, a rapid response is critical," said Keith Kall, executive director of corporate development for World Vision.

Survey: 7 in 10 Ministries Report Little, No Loss in Donations

ASSIST News Services reports that, despite the economic downturn, most evangelical parachurch ministries exceeded, met or came very close to their 2008 fourth-quarter contributions goals. According to a recent survey of its members by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), 72 percent of responding organizations reported they exceeded, met or came within 10 percent of their goals. Twenty-eight percent reported they were more than 10 percent below their goals. Many groups feared that donation-supported ministries would fare far worse. Instead, "[m]any of the parachurch ministries we surveyed reported small donations of $10 to $100 were relatively unaffected, and in some cases, donations in this category increased," said Dan Busby, acting president of ECFA. "In fact, some of our members had the strongest fourth quarter they’ve had in years and ended the year debt-free."

Myanmar Government Tightens Access to Country

Mission News Network reports that the closure of 50 churches in Yangon, Myanmar, corresponds with further tightening at the country's borders. Thousands are still displaced and in need after Cyclone Nargis hit the country in May 2008, but much foreign aid has been delayed or stopped by Myanmar's military junta. Patrick Klein, founder and President of Vision Beyond Borders (VBB), says officials are closely monitoring what gets into the country. Two VBB teams recently made it through with "medicine, vegetables, seeds, and clothes. We're also getting Bibles in and trying to reach the people, especially in the delta [region]." Klein added, "We've been working kind of low level with some local contacts and trying to keep out a foreign presence so it doesn't draw attention to them." The organization has focused on building orphanages for children who lost family in Cyclone Nargis.

Supreme Court to Consider Mohave Desert Cross Case

Religion News Service reports that the Supreme Court decided Monday (Feb. 23) to consider a case about a controversial eight-foot cross that was erected as a war memorial on federal property in California. The legal battle surrounding the memorial in the Mohave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, Calif., has pitted veterans groups against advocates for church-state separation. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the cross and a 2004 congressional statute designed to maintain its placement is unconstitutional. The challenge began after the National Park Service denied a request to erect a Buddhist shrine in the preserve, a visitor to the preserve sued in 2001 because the property was not "open to groups and individuals to erect other free-standing, permanent displays."