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Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 5, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 5, 2010

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

  • 10 Americans in Haiti Charged With Child Kidnapping
  • Pastors File Challenge to Hate-Crimes Law
  • Survey: Church, Ministers Not the Friendliest in Town
  • Egypt Christians Call for Right to Build Churches

10 Americans in Haiti Charged With Child Kidnapping

CNN reports that 10 American Baptists in Haiti were charged with child kidnapping and criminal association yesterday, according to their lawyer. The 10-person team attempted to bring 33 Haitian children to a makeshift orphanage in the Dominican Republic but was turned back at the border. The group's leader, Laura Silsby, acknowledged that she had not received permission from Haitian authorities and that she knew the group's papers were not in order. She says the group was just trying to help quake victims. The other nine members of the team did not know that the plan had not been approved, according to their lawyer, Edwin Coq. "I'm going to do everything I can to get the nine out," Coq said. That would still leave mission leader Laura Silsby facing charges. The 33 children are currently housed with another children's group in Port-au-Prince.

Pastors File Challenge to Hate-Crimes Law

Religion News Service reports that three Michigan pastors have filed a legal challenge to the federal hate crime law that was expanded last year to include sexual orientation. The civil rights suit was filed Tuesday (Feb. 2) in U.S. District Court in Bay City, Mich., by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Gary Glenn, head of the American Family Association of Michigan, and three pastors: Rene B. Ouellette of First Baptist Church in Bridgeport Township; Jim Combs of Faith Baptist Church in Waterford Township; and Levon R. Yuille of The Bible Church in Ypsilanti. Glenn and the pastors claim the law makes it a crime for them to preach against homosexuality and therefore infringes on their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, association and free exercise of religion.

Survey: Church, Ministers Not the Friendliest in Town

The Christian Post reports that fewer than 1 in 5 Americans rate churches as the friendliest places in a town. Even among self-described Christians, less than a quarter called the church the friendliest place. Among non-Christians, the rating sunk all the way to 7 percent. "What the survey revealed for us is that people are really starved for relationship when it comes to what they're looking for in the church," Chris Howley, director of research at Group Publishing, the Colorado-based firm specializing in church resources. Survey respondents said that the most important factor in whether a place is friendly or not is "making me feel like I belong," followed by "making me feel comfortable" and "at ease."

Egypt Christians Call for Right to Build Churches

The Washington Post reports that both Muslims and Christians protested on Wednesday in Cairo, trying to draw attention to religious disputes in the country. The group called for Egypt's legislators to give Christians the same rights to build churches as Muslims have to builds mosques. Currently, Christians must get their papers signed by the president, as well as receive the municipal permission that mosques require. Protestors also criticized the government for ignoring the religious motivation behind the Jan. 6 shooting that killed six Copts outside a church in southern Egypt. Officially, Egypt maintains that religious violence is non-existent, despite persistent degradation and scuffles between Muslims and Coptic Christians. About 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million people are Copts.