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Religion Today Summaries - January 12, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 12, 2006

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


In today's edition:

Faith-Based Homeless Initiative Catching On


The Denver Post reports that more than 450 religious leaders took part Tuesday in the official kickoff of a new effort to help homeless families and seniors find housing. The "Family and Senior Homeless Initiative: One Congregation, One Family" program is part of Mayor John Hickenlooper's 10-year plan to end homelessness in Denver. Since the program's start in July, more than 55 homeless families and one senior have been paired with mentoring teams from 45 area congregations. Of those, 47 families have been placed in permanent housing. When a church congregation commits to working with a homeless family, it gives $1,200 to the Denver Rescue Mission, which will find a home for the family and pay for its first month's rent and deposit. Mentors meet with the family seven times over 4-6 months to teach budgeting and parenting skills, how to keep a job and how to get information on community resources. “When people of faith have been asking, 'What can we do?' this mayor's program gives them this opportunity,” said Rabbi Joel Schwartzman of Congregation B'nai Chaim.


Court In Italy To Decide If Jesus Exists


An Italian court is taking on Jesus - and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago. Plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, is a vocal atheist who will have his day in court later this month saying, “The Church constructed Christ upon the personality of John of Gamala,” the 1st century Jew who fought against the Roman army. “I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the Church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression,” Cascioli told Reuters. Defendant, Enrico Righi, 76, is a priest who writes for the parish newspaper. He says, “The judge will decide if Christ exists or not.” Cascioli says Righi, and by extension the whole Church, broke two Italian laws. The first is 'Abuse of Popular Belief' meant to protect people against being swindled or conned. The second crime, he says, is 'impersonation.' Cascioli admits that the odds are against him, especially in Roman Catholic Italy. He jokingly says, “It would take a miracle to win.”


CWA Says Alito Will Continue to Protect Religious Liberty


Concerned Women for America (CWA) said Judge Samuel Alito will uphold and protect the religious liberties of the American people if he is entrusted to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Jan LaRue, CWA’s Chief Counsel stated: "Judge Alito is a judge who understands the constitutional rights of Americans in this country. Yesterday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee tried to make Justice O’Connor the gold standard to which they will hold Judge Alito. Nothing could be worse, especially when it comes to protecting our first liberty, religious liberty. After all, O'Connor thinks it violates the Establishment Clause to publicly display the Ten Commandments. Judge Alito has consistently protected the free exercise rights of all religious people, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans and the artwork of a young school boy thankful for Jesus. He has ruled against government actions that discriminate against or unfairly burden religion, and he has rejected government attempts to use the Establishment Clause to remove all things religious from the public square. "He has demonstrated a unique combination of intellect, integrity, competence and experience in constitutional law which will drive his demand for justice in the United States Supreme Court. The Senate should confirm Judge Alito to the Supreme Court or the ongoing threat to religious liberty may continue."


More Arrests Made in Eritrean Government's Crackdown on Protetstant Christians


Christian persecution is again on the rise in Eritrea, where at least 40 Protestant Eritrean Christians have been arrested since December 22, according to an Assist News Service release. Prior to the December arrests, at least 1,750 Eritrean Christians were reported to be jailed in police stations, military camps and prisons including some members of the government recognized Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran churches. Among these 1,750 being held, there are at least 28 clergymen, some being held in underground cells and metal shipping containers living under inhumane conditions for refusing to abandon their evangelical beliefs. According to Strategic World Impact (SWI), security police in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, have been searching for leaders of the Church of the Living God, Full Gospel, Rema, Hallelujah and Philadelphia churches. All Christian worship and denominations are banned other than the officially recognized Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran church denominations. SWI says one evangelical leader is believed to be in hiding.