Religion Today Summaries - June 28, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 28, 2007

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

  • Gaza Christians Fear Abuse, Vow to Migrate if Harmed
  • Iraqi Christians Targeted in Baghdad
  • Catholic League Blasts Robin Williams for Attack on Priests
  • Pentecostals Buckle Africa's Bible Belt

Gaza Christians Fear Abuse, Vow to Migrate if Harmed

An AP story says Gaza's tiny Christian community says the violent warning recently sent by Islamic militants cannot be erased. The previously relatively peaceful relationship between Gaza's 1.4 million Muslims and 3,000 Christians has dissolved, leaving Christians fearing more attacks, and some saying they want to leave. An exodus could effectively wipe out one of the Arab world's tiniest and oldest Christian communities. "We don't trust them (Hamas). Our time is coming," said a Greek Orthodox Christian who asked not to be identified.

Iraqi Christians Targeted in Baghdad

For one man, the release of eight kidnapped Christians from his hometown of Qaraqosh on Friday June 22 was bittersweet. Compass Direct News reports that ten days prior, his own brother-in-law, Fouad Salim, had not been so fortunate when militants killed him in Baghdad as he left his work at a police station in Razaliyah. “It was because of his religion,” said the Syrian Catholic, who asked to remain anonymous. “They asked him to be Islamicized [convert to Islam], and when he refused they killed him.” Salim’s family believes he was murdered by Shiite militants within the police force. His story is one of a growing number of incidents of persecution against Christians reported from Baghdad in recent months.

Catholic League Blasts Robin Williams for Attack on Priests reports the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization is blasting comedian Robin Williams for his recent appearance on The Tonight Show. Williams, plugging his latest movie in which he plays a Protestant minister, targeted Catholic priests as part of his schtick, pretending to play a game where "the pedophile" is hidden under a cup. Kiera McCaffrey, director of communications with the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, says Williams would never bring up the fact that most priests involved in sex scandals were homosexuals. "You don't hear anything about that. You don't hear comments about homosexuals from these comedians [because homosexuals are] pretty much a protected class... They say, 'it's off-limits to mock gays, [but] it's perfectly okay to go after priests.' Now, what about gay priests? That's a tricky situation. You know the answer -- let's just label them all pedophiles."

Pentecostals Buckle Africa's Bible Belt

Pentecostal religion is mushrooming in Africa, according to a Reuters report. Promising prosperity, miracle cures and life-changing spiritual experiences, the "born again" faiths that are the staple of America's multi-millionaire televangelists are fast taking over the world's poorest continent. For many, they offer hope. The U.S. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life says Pentecostalism is growing globally, with a quarter of the world's 2 billion Christians thought to be members of faiths that emphasize speaking in tongues, divine healing, prophesy and a strongly literal interpretation of Bible stories. In Africa all churches are booming, but Pentecostalism is overtaking traditional Catholic and Anglican faiths brought by European colonizers over a century ago. Pentecostals and charismatics now account for 147 million Africans, 17 percent of the continent's people, compared with 5 percent in 1970.