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Religion Today Summaries - July 3, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 3, 2008

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

In today's edition:

  • India: Orissa Victims Evicted from Homes
  • Study: Americans Know Fewer Evangelicals than Homosexuals
  • Nepal: New Hope for Religious Freedom?
  • Judge OKs Church Ban for Autistic Boy

India: Victims of Orissa Evicted from Homes

Compass Direct News reports that at least 36 Christian families whose houses were burned during Christmas season violence in Orissa’s Kandhamal district have been evicted from their damaged homes. The tribal (aboriginal) Christian families were still living in the houses, which were being repaired after Hindu extremists torched them during a weeklong spate of violence that began on December 24. The Christians had been living in the houses for four decades, according to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). The Kandhamal district administration demolished the 26 houses in which 36 Christian families were living in Barakhama village on June 24, said Dr. Sajan K. George, GCIC national president. He said the timing of the demolition indicated that the administration gave in to pressure from Hindu extremists. “It is also a sign of the fact that normalcy has not returned,” he said, “and extremists are still threatening Christians with attacks in Kandhamal.”

Study: Americans Know Fewer Evangelicals than Homosexuals

According to a recent study, Americans are more likely to know a gay or lesbian person than an evangelical, the Christian Post reports. Conducted by Ellison Research, the study found that only 24 percent of Americans who say they are not evangelical know an evangelical very well, compared to 53 percent who say they know a homosexual person very well. These numbers are more startling when contrasted with demographics statistics: Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, noted that homosexuals are estimated to comprise less than 10 percent of the population, while 17 percent of Americans describe themselves as evangelical. "Is this because homosexuals are more open than evangelicals about who they are? Because Americans are more open to knowing a homosexual than an evangelical? Because evangelicals themselves are less likely to reach into the broader community to form relationships?" Sellers asked. "These questions are certainly open to debate."

Nepal: New Hope for Religious Freedom?

According to ASSIST News Service, Christian leaders in Nepal have reported persecution at the hands of Maoist guerrillas, as well as Hindu militants. Now, they are praying the new republic will guarantee their basic human rights. According to ChristianityToday.com, the republic has given a significant role to former Maoist guerrillas who fought a ten-year insurgency against thegovernment. The fighting left 12,000 dead and displaced 100,000. The Maoists now hold about one third of the seats in the new parliament. Release International reports that guerrillas have repeatedly threatened pastors and tried to close churches, and some of Nepal's tiny Christian minority say their homes and churches were destroyed by the Maoist guerrillas. They were often targeted for opposing atheism and refusing to join the Maoist movement. While Christianity is spreading, the challenge remains for Nepals new rulers to allow Christians to worship and evangelize freely, especially as they are challenged by radical Hindus.

Judge OKs Church Ban for Autistic Boy

The Associate Press reports that a judge has upheld a restraining order against a 13-year-old autistic boy that prevents him from attending a northern Minnesota church. Todd County District Judge Sally Ireland Roberts called Adam Race's behavior at the Church of St. Joseph "repeated, unwanted and intrusive," constituting "harassment." Adam's mother, Carol Race, intends to continue the legal fight. "I thought it would be possible I would lose on some things, but I'm surprised that so many of the points in the judgment were based on hearsay," Race said, referring to the testimony of the Rev. Daniel Walz, the parish priest. In requesting the restraining order, Walz said 225 lb., 6 foot tall Adam has nearly knocked people over, urinates due to incontinence, and needs to be restrained by having his hands or feet bound. His mother said these claims are exaggerated.