Religion Today Summaries - July 18, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 18, 2006

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

  • Rick Warren's Planning Trip to North Korea Postponed
  • Youths in India Set Fire to Orphanage, Harass Girls
  • Two Montegnard Degar Christians Killed in Prison
  • Pope Expresses 'Serious Concern' for Escalating Mideast Violence

Rick Warren's Planning Trip to North Korea Postponed

AgapePress reports that Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life who was to have gone to North Korea Monday to firm up arrangements for him to preach in the Pyongyang, has postponed his visit. His spokesman insists that "the invitation still stands" for Warren to speak next March in a 15,000-seat stadium, and expresses hope that the planning meeting can be rescheduled soon. In Seoul last week, Warren told ABC's Nightline that he prayed and sought counsel about whether to accept North Korea's invitation to preach, and decided it was worth the risk of being criticized or used for propaganda purposes. He also met last week with South Korea's president and led a two-day Purpose Driven Church conference for 20,000 pastors.

Youths in India Set Fire to Orphanage, Harass Girls

Unidentified youths on July 6 allegedly tried to molest girls and launched an arson attack on the orphanage of Emmanuel Mission International in Rajasthan state’s Kota district. The incident took place at 2 a.m. when at least six youths tried to enter the girls’ dormitory at the orphanage, Saji Kutty of EMI told Compass Direct News. The girls woke up and shouted, after which the youths threw stones at the window. Later, they set a tire on fire and threw it inside the generator room, destroying a generator panel and transformer. Police refused to file a First Information Report (FIR) on the incident. At the same time, the Rajasthan Patrika newspaper on July 7 reported that the Rajasthan High Court had issued a warning to the Social Welfare Department and its director, Madan Dilawar, in a petition charging him with instigating people against minorities, including Christians. Acknowledging that Dilawar had been involved in targeting Christians even before he became a minister, the newspaper reported that he intensified attacks after taking charge of the social welfare department.

Two Montegnard Degar Christians Killed in Prison

A Christian man was denied food and water by Vietnamese authorities in Ha Nam prison and tortured to death, says a report from ASSIST News Service. Siu Lul, 62, had been incarcerated at the prison in Ha Nam since 2004. On April 24, 2006 he died from the effects of torture and lack of water and food. On the day that Siu Lul died, his wife did not have money to transport her husband’s body back to her village, so she agreed that he could be buried in Ha Nam. But in May 2006, Siu Lul’s widow asked the Vietnamese authorities how she could retrieve her late husband’s body and return it to her village for a Christian funeral. But, the authorities told her that she could not bring her husband’s body back to her village until the time for his prison sentence had passed. In another case, a Christian man called Siu Dolel, from Ploi Oi village, was arrested, tortured and imprisoned in Ha Nam on Dec. 22, 2004. In May 2006, the prison authorities tortured him again by kicking, boxing and beating him with electric batons until his right and left rib cages were broken. On June 25 June 2006, Vietnamese officials came to his wife’s house and told her that her husband had died in prison and asked her if she wanted to see his body before burial. Unfortunately, his wife did not have money to go see him, and officials then confiscated his identification card from her and left.

Pope Expresses 'Serious Concern' for Escalating Mideast Violence

According to Catholic News Service, Pope Benedict XVI has called for dialogue, restraint and prayers for peace in the Middle East. Pope Benedict spoke of his "serious concern" for the escalating violence in the Middle East, particularly because the fighting had spread to Lebanon and had caused so many civilian deaths. Lebanese officials said the number of civilian deaths had passed 100 by early July 17, while Israeli officials reported 12 civilian deaths since the cross-border attacks began July 13. While recognizing that "objective situations of the violation of laws and justice" were at the root of the conflict, Pope Benedict said, "neither terrorist acts nor reprisals can be justified, especially when there are tragic consequences for the civilian population."