Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 2, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 2, 2009

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

  • Zimbabwe Health Crisis Further Deteriorates
  • China: Christians Building Replacement Houses Beaten
  • Poll: No Evidence Recession Pulls People into Pews
  • University Refuses Funds to Christian Groups

Zimbabwe Health Crisis Further Deteriorates

The Christian Post reports that Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic is spreading rapidly, as is the problem of child malnutrition. At least 1,564 people have died of cholera, and the number of reported cases has increased to 29,131 as of Sunday, reaching all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe. The World Health Organization warns that as many as 60,000 could contract the disease unless humanitarian conditions improve. Many do not have access to clean water, a problem exacerbated by the start of the rainy season. Meanwhile, child aid organization Save the Children ports that cases of acute child malnutrition have risen by almost two-thirds in the past year. About 5 million people in Zimbabwe need food aid.

China: Christians Building Replacement Houses Beaten

Mission News Network reports that Chinese Christians aiding their countrymen in need are not exempt from police raids. More than 40 police from the Public Security Bureau, reportedly smelling of alcohol, beat four victims of May's earthquake and Christian volunteers who were helping rebuild the houses in Quchuan, Sichuan province. The police also confiscated Bibles, hymnals, even televisions and motorcycles. The authorities did not present official documents to warrant their actions. According to MNN, the town of Quchuan has received little outside aid due to its remote location, and Christian volunteers are among the few helping to rebuild houses as winter begins.

Poll: No Evidence Recession Pulls People into Pews

Religion News Service reports that the economic recession has not led to an increase in attendance at U.S. houses of worship, according to Gallup pollsters. Despite anecdotal evidence cited in high-profile media outlets, Americans' worship patterns have held steady in 2008, the Gallup Poll reports. Since mid-February, Gallup said, it has asked 1,000 adults a day how often they attend church, synagogue or mosque. About 42 percent have said they go weekly or almost weekly, with no increase in September through December, when the recession tightened its hold on the U.S. economy. Gallup also said there has been no significant change in the percentage of Americans who say they attend church about once a month, seldom, or never.

University Refuses Funds to Christian Groups

OneNewsNow reports that Christian groups on the Boise State University campus are taking legal action over what they call funding discrimination by the school. Casey Mattox, an attorney with the Christian Legal Society representing the groups, said, "The students are forced to pay the money, but the students with religious student groups -- their groups can never get the money." University officials argue that Idaho's constitution "prohibits them from giving equal treatment to religious groups," OneNewsNow wrote. The school does, however, offer funds to the Secular Student Alliance. Mattox contends such viewpoint discrimination is incorrect, explaining that the "Supreme Court held over a decade ago that public universities may not exclude student religious groups from student activity fee funding."