Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 6, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 6, 2009

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

  • Palestinian Christians Demonstrate for Justice
  • Jailed Missionaries Seek Presidential Pardon in Gambia
  • Islamists Attack Two Churches in Pakistan
  • Malaysia: Officials Ban Malay Section of Catholic Newspaper

Palestinian Christians Demonstrate for Justice

Palestine News Network (PNN) reports that Christians on the other side of the Gaza Strip protested Israel's military action on Sunday. In Beit Sahour, east of Bethlehem, demonstrators marched and "chanted against the Israeli occupation and the massacre on Gaza, the year and a half siege and the ongoing closure." Father Issa of the Greek Orthodox Church in Beit Sahour spoke at a protest rally. “We reject the exploitation by Israel of some of the internal arguments to launch a war on the Strip. In the last few days we have seen the number children who are being killed in Gaza rise," he said. Meanwhile, Israeli Security Cabinet Minister Isaac Herzog told CNN that Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties, but faces complications when Hamas mingles with civilians in apartments, houses, schools and stores. “Part of the circumstances are that in certain neighborhoods, when we are trying to find out where the launchers are, the missiles are, there are pains and there are difficult moments.”

Jailed Missionaries Seek Presidential Pardon in Gambia

The Christian Post reports that a British missionary couple is seeking pardon from the president of Gambia, hoping for mercy instead of one year of hard labor. David and Fiona Fulton were sentenced Dec. 24 for allegedly distributing "seditious" reports about the Gambian government via a series of round-robin e-mails. The Fultons had been working in Gambia for 12 years before the incident, which was allegedly connected to their mission work. "It was not our intention to excite hatred, dissatisfaction and contempt to the President, or government of the Gambia," the Fultons expressed in their letter. “We humbly apologize totally and unreservedly.” The couple promised that, if released, they will leave for Britain and not return without the government's permission.

Islamists Attack Two Churches in Pakistan

ASSIST News Service reports that Islamist fundamentalists in the Pakistani city of Karachi in the province of Sindh attacked two churches on the eve of New Year. Unidentified militants forcibly entered in Christ Awami Church located in Rasool Shah Colony and told congregants to stop worshiping in the church. When congregants resisted, the militants desecrated Bibles, a cross on the wall, as well as hymn books, besides smashing windows and a door of the church. Islamists also attacked a protestant church in Zia colony in Karachi. They broke church’s door and windows and also threw garbage into the church. Police promised stern action against the culprits, but so far have only lodged an information report.

Malaysia: Officials Ban Malay Section of Catholic Newspaper

Compass Direct News reports that Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered the Catholic weekly Herald to cease publishing its Malay-language section pending the outcome of a court case over the newspaper’s right to use the Arabic word “Allah” for God. The ministry also included two other conditions: The newspaper can be sold only in churches, and it must be printed clearly on the cover that it is meant for Christians only. The conditions were included in the renewal notice of the weekly’s annual printing license issued by the government. Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald, told Compass that the letter did not specify consequences if the newspaper does not comply with the conditions. Earlier, Fr. Andrew reportedly said the ban was “unacceptable” and urged the government to “let the court decide” and not “jump the gun.”