Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 5, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 5, 2009

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

  • Atheist: Africa Needs God, Not Just Aid
  • India, an Exporter of Priests, May Keep Them
  • Egypt Cancelled New Year's Eve over Gaza 'Massacres'
  • UK 2050: Church Attendance ‘To Fall by 90 Percent'

Atheist: Africa Needs God, Not Just Aid

The Christian Post reports that not all atheists are anti-God. Matthew Parris, a former conservative member of the British Parliament, recently argued in the U.K.-based The Times that Africa needs not only aid, but God. “Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts,” writes Parris, who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. “These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do.” He continued, "In Africa, Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.”

India, an Exporter of Priests, May Keep Them

The New York Times reports that India's unlikely export of Roman Catholic priests to the West may be coming to an end. According to the Time, far more young men join the priesthood in India than in the United States and Europe, which often have trouble filling their pulpits. As a result, bishops often visit India to seek a priest willing to go abroad. In the United States, at least 800 Indian priests are active. Nonetheless, Indian prelates are carefully watching the motives of their priests. “There is a great danger just now because the spirit of materialism is on the increase,” said Bishop Mar James Pazhayattil, the founding bishop of the Diocese of Irinjalakuda, “Faith and the life of sacrifice are becoming less.” Prelates want to ensure that new priests learn spiritual sacrifice, not a means to financial gain.

Egypt Cancelled New Year's Eve over Gaza 'Massacres'

The AFP reports that officials in Egypt cancelled official News Year's Eve celebrations to protest Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. "In solidarity with the painful events in the Palestinian territories and the massacres which Gazans are faced with ... the ministries of culture and information have decided to cancel New Year's festivities," the government paper Al-Ahram said Wednesday. Special concerts, television variety shows, and a new comedy channel were all delayed or cancelled. At least 400 Palestinians have been killed, some of them civilians, in Israeli bombings attempting to wipe out Hamas.

UK 2050: Church Attendance ‘To Fall by 90 Percent'

A new study by Christian Research, the statistical arm of the Bible Society, claims that church attendance in Britain will plummet to below 88,000 by 2050. The estimate has ignited controversy, with Prime Minister Gordon claiming, "Faith in Britain today is very much alive and well," and the Church of England lambasting the estimate as "incomplete" and ignoring "new ways of worshipping outside the church network," the UK Guardian reported. But according to Keith Porteous-Wood of the National Secular Society, if church attendance continues a similar decline as seen in the last 60 years, Christianity will indeed become "a minority sect of largely elderly people" by 2050.