Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 9, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 9, 2010

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

  • Lao Officials Force Christians from Worship at Gunpoint
  • Baptist Groups Respond to Missionaries' Kidnapping Charges
  • Female Pastor, Daughter Murdered in the Philippines
  • Churches Warned to Prepare for Another Lean Year

Lao Officials Force Christians from Worship at Gunpoint

Compass Direct News reports that about 100 local officials, police and villagers put guns to the heads of Christians during their Sunday morning service in Laos last month, forcing them to leave their worship and homes. According to Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF), the attackers in Katin village in Saravan Province included the village chief, a religious affairs' official, three district police and a 15-man volunteer unit that joined 15 village police officers. The mob forced all 48 Christian adults and children of the church to an open field. Afterward, the officials confiscated all personal belongings from 11 homes of Christians and destroyed six of the 11 homes. They also confiscated a pig - equal to six weeks' salary to the villagers - that belonged to one of the members of the congregation, according to HRWLRF. The Christians still refused to renounce their faith.

Baptist Groups Respond to Missionaries' Kidnapping Charges

Baptists and aid groups worldwide are reacting to the kidnapping charges against 10 American missionaries in Haiti. Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land on Friday called for the release of 10 volunteers, most of whom come from Southern Baptist churches. "For the Haitian government to respond in this way to the obvious good intentions of these honorable Christians is outrageous," Land said in a letter to President Obama urging the missionaries' release. Meanwhile, other Baptist groups distanced themselves from the event. Christian Today reports that the global fellowship Baptist World Alliance and the American Baptist Churches USA have assured congregations that they are not affiliated with the arrested missionaries.

Female Pastor, Daughter Murdered in the Philippines

ASSIST News Service reports that a female pastor and her 12-year-old daughter were brutally killed by still unidentified men in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, on Feb. 3. The killings come just three months after the massacre of more than 20 Christian journalists in this island region of the Philippines. Juliet Catalan, 50, a pastor of the Born Again Christian group, was found in her backyard with several hack wounds to the head and body, according to Police Officer Ronaldo Patricio. Catalan's daughter, Chelle, was found dead inside the living room of similar wounds. Patricio said there was no indication of possible forced entry so the police believed the victims knew the attacker or attackers. Gammar Hassan, a respected Muslim leader doing missionary work amongst Christians, described the suspects as "violent and merciless."

Churches Warned to Prepare for Another Lean Year

The Christian Post reports that churches should expect another year of belt-tightening. "Barring a significant event or shift, the prospects for a recovery of charitable giving during 2010 appear dim," said David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group. "Even while some financial indicators show signs of life, most Americans are very concerned about the country's long-term economic prospects and seem to be tightening budgets and scrimping on donations." The Barna Group's survey, released Monday, found that 48 percent of adults said they reduced their giving to non-profit groups in the last three months. Almost one quarter of church donors said they have reduced their giving by 20 percent or more. In 2008, only 10 percent had made cuts that deep in their giving.