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Religion Today Summaries - July 4, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 4, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • John Piper Laments 'Normalization' of Homosexuality
  • Human Rights Groups Support New Congressional Bill
  • In Japan, 'Ground Presence' Makes Impact


John Piper Laments 'Normalization' of Homosexuality

Influential pastor John Piper has called New York's new law allowing same-sex marriage as the "new calamity" facing the United States. "[Homosexuality] has been here since we were all broken in the fall of man," he wrote. "What’s new is not even the celebration of homosexual sin," he said, according to The Christian Post. "What's new is normalization and institutionalization." He continued, "Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery." Last month a Gallup poll alleged that the majority of Americans (53 percent) support same-sex marriage.

Human Rights Groups Support New Congressional Bill

Human rights advocates are pushing Congress to reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) as part of a larger measure to help persecuted minorities worldwide. HR1856 would allow USCIRF to continue monitoring the state of religious freedom and making independent policy recommendations for seven more years. According to Mission Network News, USCIRF is the only government commission of its kind in the world with the credibility and clout to keep religious freedom issues actively before the U.S. government. The bill would also streamline implementation of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act; under the legislation, IRF Ambassador Dr. Johnson Cook would report directly to the Secretary of State like other Ambassadors do. Persecution ministry Open Doors and similar groups are supporting the bill.

In Japan, Ground Presence Makes Impact

Three months after Japan's triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, residents in the northeast are still digging out from mounds of debris and mud. Baptist Press reports that in some towns, supplies are still limited and must be reached by foot. In affected areas, Japan is still a disaster zone. About three teams of Southern Baptist volunteers are going to Japan each month to help with the ongoing disaster response, said Jeff Palmer, executive director of the Baptist Global Response international relief organization. "Most of the volunteers are serving as utility teams, which means that they are doing a number of odd jobs in partnership with Tokyo Baptist Church's North East Japan Recover program and the Japan Baptist Convention's Tohoku Care Team," Palmer said. "They are meeting needs of people in the affected areas and providing services such as mud-outs, cleaning houses, streets, parks, public areas, delivering relief supplies and encouraging disaster victims."