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Religion Today Summaries - July 14, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 14, 2006

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

  • Bombay Hopegivers Aid Terror Train Victims
  • Christian Activist Says Evangelicals Wrong to Endorse Anti-Torture Statement
  • Court Orders Illinois University to Recognize Christian Student Group
  • Pastors Not Perfect, Barna Finds

Bombay Hopegivers Aid Terror Train Victims

ASSIST News reports local Hopegivers workers are responding with help amidst the chaos of death, panic and horror caused by Tuesday’s coordinated terrorist attacks on busy commuter trains in Bombay (now known as Mumbai). Hopegivers’ Head of Bombay Operations, Pastor A.M. Mathew, welcomed wounded blast victims into his nearby orphanage. Apostles of Hope and other local staff are currently providing medical care, food and water for the injured. Current estimates from the BBC put the death toll from yesterday’s blasts at 183 with at least 700 injured, but those figures are expected to rise. Pastor Mathew cares for more than 40 orphaned or abandoned children in the Hope Home in nearby Vasai. Hopegivers’ Bombay Street Rescue program reaches out to homeless children who beg for food and money in the train stations. There are an estimated 850,000 homeless children living in and around Bombay, with thousands making their home at the city’s bustling train stations. Bombay boasts one of the world’s largest subway and commuter train systems with over six million riders daily.

Christian Activist Says Evangelicals Wrong to Endorse Anti-Torture Statement

AgapePress reports that a conservative Christian leader says the organization known as the National Religious Campaign Against Torture isn't saying anything about torture in places like North Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia -- but instead is focusing its ire upon the U.S. and the Bush administration. Mark Tooley directs the United Methodist Committee of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), based in Washington, DC.  Tooley says he has reviewed the declaration issued by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and has noted the document does not say anything about torture in places where it really occurs.  That causes him to question the group's motive. "If this group were genuinely interested in torture, of course they would be addressing those regimes that actively and deliberately do practice torture rather than focusing exclusively on the United States," he comments.  He says he detects a "double standard" in the campaign against torture.  "[It] is primarily a creation of the religious left and whose interest is not so much in torture, per se, but about opposing U.S. foreign policy."

Court Orders Illinois University to Recognize Christian Student Group

A constitutional attorney is hailing a federal court decision that forces Southern Illinois University to recognize a Christian student group, AgapePress reports. SIU had denied official recognition to the campus Christian Legal Society (CLS), arguing the group violated the university's affirmative action and nondiscrimination policies because it limited its membership to Christians. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled, however, that the (CLS) chapter is likely to succeed in district court with its lawsuit alleging SIU violated the group's free-speech rights. The court also ruled that the student organization's requirement that its members abstain from extramarital sex is not discriminatory. The Christian Legal Society has chapters in more than 1,100 cities across the United States.

Pastors Not Perfect, Barna Finds

Christian researcher George Barna says American pastors are not perfect, and the church needs to know that, according to an AgapePress report. According to a survey from the Barna Group, a majority of Christian pastors in the U.S. say they struggle with personal relationships, and a quarter of pastors say they are introverted or shy. Barna researcher David Kinnaman says this should remind Christians not to take their church leaders for granted. "I think the most important thing is to emphasize how difficult the role of pastoring is," Kinnaman points out. Although most pastors say they feel confident in their abilities to teach, many tend to struggle with the interpersonal dynamics of pastoring. What the survey shows, the Barna Group spokesman explains, is that God uses people of all personality types in the church. "We were looking in this research for a snapshot of pastor's perceptions, and the kinds of challenges that they seem to be facing," Kinnaman notes, "and so this research underscores just how diverse people are within the pastoring ranks."