Religion Today Summaries - June 22, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 22, 2009

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

  • Sri Lankans Face Long Road to Normalcy
  • Pakistan’s ‘Invisible Refugees’ Burden Cities
  • Beijing Church Web Site Forcibly Shut Down by Government
  • Family Group Criticizes Move on Gay Federal Benefits

Sri Lankans Face Long Road to Normalcy

Christian Today reports that Sri Lanka's refugee population will face difficult situations for some time, as aid agencies struggle to provide bare essentials. An estimated 300,000 people were displaced by Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war, most of whom remain in refugee camps. The massive numbers have forced overcrowding, poor diet and water shortages within the camps. Tony Senewiratne, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka said, "I believe that the people in the camps are having a really tough time despite all that people are doing to alleviate the situation." A World Concern worker reports that the dry season has brought new challenges in water distribution as the country's wells dry up. "This is not going to change in the short term," Senewiratne said.

Pakistan’s ‘Invisible Refugees’ Burden Cities

The New York Times reports that families who fled the conflict between Taliban and government forces in Pakistan are increasingly "invisible." Refugees have journeyed to relatives and faraway schools to prevent hampering military operations, but they are disappointed at how little help they have received. “People aren’t noticing them,” said Michael McGrath, Pakistan director of Save the Children, an aid organization that has focused on refugees outside of camps. “Their needs are not being met.” Refugees add thousands to town populations, but have little ability to care for themselves. Government and international aid often passes them by, while they continue to live in cramped quarters with relatives who don't have the resources to provide for the extended family.

Beijing Church Web Site Forcibly Shut Down by Government

ASSIST News Service reports that the Web site of Shouwang Christian Church of Beijing experienced a forced shut-down from the Websites Surveillance Section of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. On April 13, government officials concluded that the website was the “website of an illegal Christian organization,” and demanded that an agent shut it down. “Though Shouwang Christian Church pre-paid for a year of service, the website was shut down without prior notice or an official written explanation,” said a spokesperson for ChinaAid. “The website was registered by an individual, and was used mainly by the house church members to communicate with each other regarding daily activities and information about the church.

Family Group Criticizes Move on Gay Federal Benefits

Religion News Service reports that President Obama signed an executive order Wednesday (June 17) expanding benefits available to same-sex partners of federal employees, a move that was not unexpected but nonetheless criticized by social conservative groups. Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council, said the memorandum "clearly violates the spirit of the federal law which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife." That federal law, known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996. Obama noted that because DOMA defines marriage between a man and a woman, the White House cannot yet enact the full range of benefits for same-sex couples that heterosexual, married couples receive.