Religion Today Summaries - July 3, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 3, 2009

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

  • Christians in Mauritania Tense after Murder of Aid Worker
  • Pakistan: Taliban Buying Children for Suicide Bombers
  • India Delivers First Conviction for Orissa Violence
  • Presbyterians Lose Most Members Since 1983 Merger

Christians in Mauritania Tense after Murder of Aid Worker

Compass Direct News reports that as funeral services were held in Tennessee for Christian aid worker Christopher Leggett yesterday, tensions remained high for Christians in the capital of Mauritania, where he was slain last week. A missionary who works in the capital city of Nouakchott told Compass that following the street assassination of Leggett by an al-Qaeda linked group the morning of June 23, the danger level in the city has forced him and his team to temporarily relocate to a European country. “After the crime various believers were arrested, and the community of workers is going through very tense moments because of another threat by al-Qaeda and the lack of security in the country,” said the missionary, who requested anonymity. “Our leaders have asked us to leave the country for a while.”

Pakistan: Taliban Buying Children for Suicide Bombers

The Washington Times reports that some children in Pakistan have been sold to a fate worse than slavery. According to a Pakistani official, Taliban have paid up to $14,000 for children who will become suicide bombers. Baitullah Mehsud, Pakistan's chief Taliban, "has turned suicide bombing into a production output, not unlike [the way] Toyota outputs cars," a U.S. Defense Department official said recently. "[Mehsud] produces these suicide bombers, which are sold or bartered, which can be used by [Afghan Taliban leader Mullah] Omar's Taliban or ... other groups." Much of Pakistan's population lives in poverty, with per-capita income running about $2,600 a year. Pakistan and the United States have both offered high rewards for information leading to Mehsud's capture.

India Delivers First Conviction for Orissa Violence

The Christian Post reports that the state government of Orissa, India, has convicted its first suspect in connection with last year's anti-Christian violence. Chakradhar Mallick was sentenced to four years in prison plus a fine for setting a local Christian's home in Kandhamal on fire. Mallick allegedly inciting a group of Hindus to burn and attack Christian homes. “We are happy that at least one person has received justice,” said Orissa's Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. More than 30,000 Christians fled the violence that began last August, when Hindu extremists blamed their leader’s murder on scapegoat Christians. At least 60 Christians were killed in the ensuing violence. Maoists claimed responsibility for the murder.

Presbyterians Lose Most Members Since 1983 Merger

Religion News Service reports that the Presbyterian Church (USA) lost more than 69,000 members in 2008, the largest drop in membership since the denomination was formed in 1983. The decline brings membership in the mainline Protestant denomination to 2.1 million, after it lost more than 57,000 members in 2007. Donations to the PCUSA also declined by more than $24 million. Although nearly 104,000 people joined the denomination last year, almost 35,000 Presbyterians left the PCUSA to join the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church, according to denominational statistics. More than 34,000 Presbyterians died, and nearly 105,000 were removed from church rolls "after they drifted away from our congregations," said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the PCUSA.