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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 7, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 7, 2010

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

  • N. Korea in Top Persecutor Spot for 8th Year
  • Response to Rick Warren's 'Urgent Appeal' Exceeds $2.5M
  • Advocates Say Abusive Irish Priests Assigned to U.S. Churches
  • Congressmen Write Letter Opposing Uganda Anti-Gay Bill

N. Korea in Top Persecutor Spot for 8th Year

Christian Newswire reports that two of the most restrictive regimes in the world top the Open Doors 2010 World Watch List of 50 countries which are the worst persecutors of Christians. In the No. 1 spot for the eighth straight time is North Korea, the country where every religious activity is recognized as an insurrection to the North Korean socialist principles. In 2009, the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-Il targeted Christians all over the country. There are an estimated 200,000 North Koreans in political prisons, including 40,000 to 60,000 Christians. Iran is now No. 2 on the list. Iran was previously No. 3 on the Watch List for years, behind Saudi Arabia. However, the wave of arrests of Christians which started in 2008 continued even stronger during 2009, resulting in the arrest of at least 85 Christians.

Response to Rick Warren's 'Urgent Appeal' Exceeds $2.5M

Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren announced that his "urgent" plea to raise $900,000 for the church's year-end-budget was met with overwhelming donations. So far, members and visitors have donated $2.4 million, and that doesn't include unopened mail. "That's a record for churches, a cash offering on the basis of a letter; and that doesn't count money mailed in, which hasn't been opened yet," Warren said. "We are ending 2009 in the black and beginning 2010 with a surplus." Most of the money came through thousands of contributions under $100. "Saddleback is famous for radical generosity," Warren said. "I say without fear of contradiction that I don't know of a more generous church." The church has raised large lump sums in the past; they raised $1.6 million for the Asian tsunami and $1.7 million for Hurricane Katrina.

Advocates Say Abusive Irish Priests Assigned to U.S. Churches

Religion News Service reports that Roman Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse in Ireland have for decades been getting re-assigned to ministry positions in the United States, according to a church reform group with a new database of names. BishopAccountability.org, which documents allegations of abuse, last week (Dec. 28) released the names of 70 accused Irish priests who at some point served in the United States. Many on the list are said to have died or no longer serve in the priesthood. The group acknowledged that its database of accused Irish priests is likely not comprehensive and may not include any priests currently serving in U.S. parishes. Co-director Anne Barrett Doyle called on all U.S. bishops to release names of priests accused in Ireland, where an unfolding clergy sexual abuse crisis has led four bishops to resign in the past month.

Congressmen Write Letter Opposing Uganda Anti-Gay Bill

Baptist Press reports that five U.S. congressmen have submitted a letter to Uganda's President urging that he do everything within his power to stop proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in the country. The legislation has drawn intense criticism from various international settings as it threatens to penalize a single act of homosexual behavior with a life sentence or a mandatory death penalty if the person is HIV-positive. The five congressmen, all Republicans, wrote to President Yoweri Museveni on Dec. 22 as ranking members of the House's Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Their appeal was based largely on their Christian faith, which Museveni shares. "Often times [people of faith] were propelled by a foundational Christian belief in the inherent dignity and worth of all men and women," the letter said. "We believe this legislation, if enacted, would be antithetical to that premise."