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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 4, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 4, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Gunmen Target Iraqi Christian Homes, 2 Killed
  • Australian Towns Brace for More Flooding; At Least 10 Dead
  • Pakistan: Islamists Protest Efforts to Change Blasphemy Laws
  • First Anglicans Received into Catholic Church

Gunmen Target Iraqi Christian Homes, 2 Killed

Two Christians died in attacks on their homes on Dec. 30, The Associated Press reports, when militants attacked at least four homes with grenades and bombs. At least seven more people were injured. "The aim of these attacks is to prevent Christians from celebrating the New Year's holiday," said Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi. No group has taken responsibility for the attacks, though Iraq's dwindling Christian community has faced numerous attacks in recent months from al-Qaeda-linked militants. At least 68 people were killed in October when militants stormed a Baghdad church during Mass and took the congregation hostage. Christians continue to leave Iraq's cities, fearing more violence. 

Australian Towns Brace for More Flooding; At Least 10 Dead

At least 10 people have died in the floodwaters that have swamped the eastern Australian city of Rockhampton. CNN reports that floodwaters topped the last ground route in the city of 75,000 yesterday, forcing relief workers to rely on helicopters to resupply the city. Officials say about 200,000 people have been affected by the prolonged flooding, which shows no sign of ebbing. "We think that Rockhampton could be isolated probably for anywhere along about a week or so," said acting Assistant Police Commissioner Alistair Dawson. The nearby southern Queensland cities of St. George and Surat may also be in danger of floodwaters. Forecasters say it could be days before conditions improve.

Pakistan: Islamists Protest Efforts to Change Blasphemy Laws

Islamic extremists in Pakistan spent New Years' Eve protesting any proposed changes to the nation's internationally-condemned blasphemy laws. According to The Christian Post, Sunni Muslim clerics organized a 24-hour strike across Pakistan amending the laws that are currently being used to sentence Christian Asia Bibi. Bibi, whose conviction has drawn international attention, is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. Protests were staged in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Pershawar and Quetta after their Friday prayers. Pakistan's government had previously talked of easing the laws, but seems to have backed off following the protests.

First Anglicans Received into Catholic Church

Priests and parishioners from about 20 Church of England parishes joined the Vatican's fold on Saturday, the UK Telegraph reports. The group, which includes three former bishops, are the first to join the Roman Catholic Church via a special structure the Pope introduced in 2009. Many of those leaving the Church of England are conservatives who object to female bishops. Bishop Alan Hopes, the Catholic bishop who oversaw the transition and conversion ceremony, made it clear that the converting clergy are fully joining the Catholic Church in its theology and worship. He said that "most of them have been journeying, seeking the fullness of truth, and they found it in the Catholic Church." About 50 clergy are expected to leave the Church of England for the Catholic Church in the coming months.