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Religion Today Summaries, February 25, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, February 25, 2004

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

  • Christian Women Beaten and Humiliated for Faith
  • New Homosexual Bishop Accepts Award from Website
  • Mother's AIDS Ministry Offers a 'Haven of Hope'
  • Muslim Students Torch Home of Christian Educator, School Closes

Christian Women Beaten and Humiliated for Faith
Charisma News Service

Christian women in Orissa State were attacked and humiliated earlier this month by Hindus for refusing to give up their faith. On Feb. 6, Hindu extremists dragged eight women, including two 15-year-old girls, out of their homes while their husbands were at work and tried to persuade them to renounce Christianity. When the women refused, the group beat, stripped them naked and forced them to walk through their villages before shaving their heads. The act of "tonsuring," or shaving of the head, is a religious ritual normally reserved for priests. When the mob of about 45 villagers made further threats against them, the women and their families fled the two villages of Kilipala and Kanimul. Dayal Gangwar, the district superintendent of police, said the women had converted to Christianity from Hinduism only recently after contact with a village resident who had been a Christian for nine years. Gangwar noted that there was no attempt to forcibly convert the families. Christian workers said that Hindu extremists are actively working in the area to "create awareness about the evils of Christianity" among the villagers. Representatives of Hindu organizations have been appointed in each village to report any signs of missionary or evangelistic activity. Orissa is already notorious for its violence against Christians.

New Homosexual Bishop Accepts Award from Website
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A conservative Episcopal theologian is denouncing his denomination's first open homosexual bishop for accepting an award from a pornographic website. A pornographic website called "PlanetOut" recently named New Hampshire Bishop Vicki Gene Robinson "Person of the Year for 2003" for his "unprecedented achievement and its impact on the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gender community."  Robinson said receiving the award was "quite humbling." Dr. Kendall Harmon with the American Anglican Council says he is "disappointed" that Robinson would accept the award at a time in the culture when children are being sent confusing messages about the path to sexual wholeness. “The line between what God is calling us to do and what we ourselves are deceived into thinking is good for us is getting really, really blurry," she says. The canon theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina says Robinson is also blurring the line between the sacred and the profane. "Unfortunately those blurred lines are further blurred by this kind of thing," he says.  “The fact that he accepts [this award] doesn't help anything.  It's not something that sends the right message to our children, and it's not something that builds a promising world for our future."

Mother's AIDS Ministry Offers a 'Haven of Hope'
Charisma News Service

People ran Betty Rushford out of town when her son got AIDS, but she believes God called her to take Christ's love to victims of the disease. For the last 14 years the founder of Channels of Love (CoL) ministry in Chattanooga, Tenn., Rushford has helped AIDS sufferers look death in the face and emerge victorious. "Every week people were dying," recalls Rushford, noting that the disease became fatal much more quickly in the late-1980s and early 1990s when AIDS drugs were not as effective. Rushford's youngest son died in 1998. At that time she turned CoL over to The Salvation Army and spent several years recovering. But she says God began to speak to her again in 2002 about helping those suffering. On a missions trip to Kenya that July, Rushford saw the disastrous effect of AIDS on the African country. Her first outreach took her back to Kenya, to the Siaya Future Life Christian Ministries. Rushford and a team of six others led a two-day seminar last year, teaching church leaders how to minister to victims and their families and help stop the spread of AIDS in their own churches and communities. Rushford now calls her ministry A Haven of Hope. Following an October trip to Haiti, she is planning trips to several other countries and a follow-up visit to Kenya.

Muslim Students Torch Home of Christian Educator, School Closes
Voice of the Martyrs

Muslim students at Nigeria’s Federal College of Education in the northern city of Yola burned down the home of the school’s provost, a Christian, on January 16. Sources at the college say the attack on Provost Dr. John Abubakar Yusufu was an apparent attempt to kill him. Muslim assailants then turned on Christian students and staff; several victims were hospitalized with injuries. Federal College has experienced religious conflict over the past three years. Mrs. Grace Yakubu, a Christian staff member, said, “We no longer have the confidence to carry on with teaching and learning activities here.” The violence prompted officials to dismiss classes at Federal College and appoint an investigative panel to uncover the causes of incessant conflict at the school. That did not satisfy Christian leaders, however. “There is foul play in the composition of the membership of the committee, since Christians are not represented in it,” Rev. Philip Faruk, chairman of the Adamawa state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said. Faruk said that, due to discrimination in the composition of the investigating panel, CAN will not accept its report.