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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 14, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 14, 2008

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

  • Compassion Projects Located at Center of Unrest in Kenya
  • China Frees North Korean Activist
  • Liberal Group Attacks Promotion of Religious Freedom Day
  • Mohler Troubled by Christian-Muslim Dialogue

Compassion Projects Located at Center of Unrest in Kenya

ASSIST News Service reports that about 500 people have died and 250,000 have been displaced from their homes in Kenya in violence that has erupted since a disputed presidential election Dec. 27. Compassion International, one of the world’s largest Christian child-development organizations, has 29 projects at the center of the chaos. According to a news release from Compassion, many of the centers are located in the slums – melting pots of tribal diversity – which place Compassion-assisted families in the middle of the violence. Compassion Kenya reported that hundreds of Compassion-assisted families and children have been affected and whole communities have been displaced by the turmoil, as property has been destroyed, looted or vandalized. Compassion Kenya is providing medical aid and counseling, and disbursing funds for relief supplies, including food and blankets.

China Frees North Korean Activist

A North Korean activist who was imprisoned in China for helping North Korean refugees has been freed, a Christian human rights group reported. According to ASSIST News Service, the story was revealed by Michelle Vu, a reporter for The Christian Post. “Yoo Sang-joon is now safely in South Korea after spending the last four months in a prison located in northern China, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW),” said Vu. “He is said to have endured extreme cold during his imprisonment and was believed he would die while being confined in China. Vu said that although he was sent winter clothes early in his prison term, he was only given them on the day of his release. Yoo reportedly still suffers from a number of physical problems as a result of his incarceration, she added. “Yoo, a North Korean survivor, was arrested near the Chinese-Mongolian border while trying to rescue other North Koreans from danger in China. He had lost his wife and youngest son in the North Korean famine.

Liberal Group Attacks Promotion of Religious Freedom Day

Calling its purposes "nefarious" with a "theocratic agenda," the liberal group Americans United for Separation of Church and State attacked Gateways to Better Education for its promotion of Religious Freedom Day (January 16), states a release by Religion News Service. Each year, since 1993, the President declares January 16th to be Religious Freedom Day, and calls upon Americans to "observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship." It is the anniversary of the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom — an important influence on the First Amendment. "Public school teachers and administrators are confused and afraid when it comes to students' freedom of religious expression," says Eric Buehrer, president of Gateways to Better Education — a national organization promoting greater awareness of Religious Freedom Day. "This confusion results in public schools censoring students' freedom of religious expression," says Buehrer.

Mohler Troubled by Christian-Muslim Dialogue

The Christian Post reports that prominent theologian Albert Mohler expressed concerns this week about the recent Christian response to a historic Muslim letter in which signers appeared unclear about their Christian identity and different beliefs of God. The letter, titled “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between Us and You,” was signed by notable Christian leaders such as: megachurch pastors Rick Warren and Bill Hybels; Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; and David Neff, editor-in-chief and vice-president of Christianity Today Media Group. But Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, did not sign the letter, saying it failed to clearly define the Christian understanding of God as the trinity. Speaking on his radio program last week, Mohler explained that Muslims also believe in Jesus but only as a prophet, not as the son of God. Therefore, Christians must distinguish what kind of God they believe in when responding to the Muslim letter, which emphasized love for a common God. “We don’t believe that Jesus Christ is our hero. We don’t believe that Jesus Christ is merely our prophet. He is Prophet and Priest and King,” Mohler said.