Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 18, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 18, 2010

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

  • Two Christians Critically Wounded at Wedding in Pakistan
  • China Confirms Human Rights Lawyer 'Went Missing' in September
  • Haiti Donations on Track to Break Records
  • 2 in 5 Presbyterians Affirm Jesus as Only Way to Salvation

Two Christians Critically Wounded at Wedding in Pakistan

Compass Direct News reports that two Pakistani Christians who were shot at a wedding on Dec. 26 for refusing to convert to Islam are still receiving intensive care. Doctors, however, are hopeful that they will recover. In low, barely audible voices, Imran Masih, 21, and Khushi Masih, 24, told Compass that two Muslims armed with AK-47s in Punjab Province's Chak (village) 297-JB, in Toba Tek Singh district, shot them in their chests after they refused orders to recite the Islamic creed signifying conversion. Soon after they arrived at the wedding, a group of armed Muslim youths surrounded them and began shooting into the air, as is customary at village weddings. They were not alarmed, they said, assuming the young Muslim men were simply celebrating joyfully. One of the Muslims ordered them to recite the Islamic profession of faith or be shot, and the two young men refused, reciting Psalm 91 instead. Police have yet to arrest the suspects, who claim they shot the two Christians by accident.

China Confirms Human Rights Lawyer 'Went Missing' in September

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that a Chinese official finally confirmed that human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng "went missing while out on a walk" on Sept. 25, 2009. This news was communicated in a telephone call between a policeman and Gao's brother, Gao Zhiyi, earlier this week, according to US-based rights group ChinaAid. It is the first time a Chinese official has acknowledged that Mr. Gao is no longer in Chinese custody. The Nobel Peace Prize nominee disappeared on Feb. 4, 2009, after he was seen being hauled away by Chinese officials. His wife and children have since escaped to the US, where ChinaAid reports that his daughter is hospitalised due to the stress of her father's disappearance. CSW's Advocacy Director, Alexa Papadouris said: "New suspicions about Mr. Gao's welfare have naturally arisen following this most recent development, and the lawyer's family now deserve to know more specific details," said Alexa Papadouris, CSW's Advocacy Director.

Haiti Donations on Track to Break Records

USA Today reports that private donations are pouring into various charities working with disaster relief in Haiti. If the current trend continues, the donations could exceed those received after other major disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. "We're hearing that this is breaking all records," says Sandra Miniutti of Charity Navigator, an independent group that evaluates U.S. charities. Private donations from Americans accounted for $6.47 billion after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma devastated areas of the Gulf Coast in 2005. Americans donated almost $2 billion to relief efforts following the massive tsunamis that struck nations in the Indian Ocean in 2004. So far, the American Red Cross has raised $8 million through texts that add $10 donations to phone bills. Oxfam America has raised $2.7 million. Relief groups say that cash is presently the most helpful donation, though that will change as emergency relief efforts shift towards rebuilding. If you'd like to support earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, consider joining some of's partners in their work: Global Aid Network (GAiN) USA, Food for the Hungry, Samaritan's Purse, and World Vision.

2 in 5 Presbyterians Affirm Jesus as Only Way to Salvation

The Christian Post reports that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s research indicates that only two in five of its members believe Jesus is the only way to heaven. According to the church's latest "Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians" report, only 39 percent of members agree or strongly that "only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved." Among PC(USA) pastors, the number dropped to 35 percent. Among members, only 43 percent disagree or strongly disagree that "all the world's religions are equally good ways of helping a person find ultimate truth." Although salvation through Jesus Christ is true for the Presbyterians, they can't say that it's true for everybody, the Rev. Dr. D. Dean Weaver, who leads a network of dissident Presbyterians, has noted.