Religion Today Summaries - July 9, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 9, 2009

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

  • Economy Closes One Relief Group, Forces Cuts at World Vision
  • Barna Study: Hispanic Faith in America More Mainstream
  • Male Victims of Human Trafficking on the Rise
  • Two Clashes Shake Egypt’s Coptic Community

Economy Closes One Relief Group, Forces Cuts at World Vision

Religion News Service reports that a Michigan-based Christian relief group, International Aid, has closed its doors amid financial struggles. Meanwhile, World Vision, one of the largest evangelical relief agencies, has eliminated about 75 positions. International Aid raised only about a tenth of $1.5 million necessary to balance its $70 million budget, according to CEO Gordon Loux. "Since we have insufficient funds, the board felt it was prudent to cease operations," Loux said. The closing eliminates 72 jobs in the U.S. and internationally. Meanwhile, about 50 members of World Vision's 1,200-member staff were laid off and about 25 open positions will not be filled. "We can no longer avoid the painful cost reduction steps that many organizations have already implemented," said Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, U.S.

Barna Study: Hispanic Faith in America More Mainstream

Baptist Press reports that America's Hispanic population is quickly adopting the mainstream beliefs and practices of all Americans. A new study by The Barna Group compared the faith of Hispanics today to their faith profile of 15 years ago and found 11 faith dimensions on which there had been substantial change. Hispanics' alignment with the Catholic Church was down by 25 percentage points, with born-again Christians by Barna's definition rising 17 percentage points. Church attendance among Hispanics in an average week had increased 10 percentage points. Still, Hispanics are twice as likely as the aggregate adult base to be aligned with the Catholic church (44% vs. 22%, respectively). The Hispanic population is the largest ethnic group in the UNited States.

Male Victims of Human Trafficking on the Rise

The Houston Chronicle reports that the percentage of male victims in human trafficking has shot up dramatically in recent years. Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says the change represents the surge in labor-trafficking cases, not just sex trafficking. These men are often forced into labor at construction sites or in agriculture, working without pay and sometimes at gunpoint. “You had to do what they said, or they said they would kill you,” said a Salvadoran man who escaped a remote Texas ranch where he was held by traffickers. “They treated us like animals.” Maritza Conde-Vazquez, a special agent with the Houston FBI who specializes in human-trafficking cases, expects male trafficking "will be a bigger problem with each passing year."

Two Clashes Shake Egypt’s Coptic Community

Compass Direct News reports that incidents of sectarian violence shook two Egyptian villages last week. Last Wednesday (July 1) north of Cairo, Muslim villagers mourning the death of 18-year-old Mohamed Ramadan Ezzat, a student killed in a dispute with a Coptic grocer, attacked Christian homes. Ezzat’s family members attacked and burned the Gerges’ store as well as two of the family apartments. During post-funeral violence, 25 people were injured as hundreds of Muslims attacked Coptic homes. Also, in Ezbet Guirgis on Friday (July 3), Muslims set fire to a warehouse next to a building they suspected Christians were using for worship. The village priest, the Rev. Saman Shehata, had applied for permission to use the building as a church last year, but authorities had rejected it.