Religion Today Summaries - June 5, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 5, 2009

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

  • N.H. Becomes 6th State to Legalize Gay Marriage
  • India's New Government Vows to Protect Minorities
  • Missionary Shot to Death in South Africa
  • Author Max Lucado Appeals for Child Sponsors in Ethiopia

N.H. Becomes 6th State to Legalize Gay Marriage

Baptist Press reports that New Hampshire became the sixth state in the U.S. to legalize "gay marriage" Wednesday when Democratic Gov. John Lynch -- who less than two months ago said he opposed such unions -- signed into law a bill redefining marriage to include homosexuals. Lynch's signature on three bills related to the issue came after the legislature earlier Wednesday passed H.B. 73, a bill aimed at protecting religious liberty but one that critics say falls fall short of its goal. The decision leaves Rhode Island as the lone New England state not to have legalized "gay marriage" and caps a flurry of activity in recent months on the issue from that corner of the country. H.B. 436 passed the legislature more than a month ago but had been held up until the religious protections bill cleared the both chambers, which are led by Democrats.

India's New Government Vows to Protect Minorities

The Christian Post reports that India's new government has promised to enact legislation to provide minorities with better protection against religious and ethnic violence. "My ministry will make all efforts to ensure that the communal violence bill, which has been pending since the last government, is passed," minority affairs minister Salman Khursheed said. "My government will continue to accord the highest priority to the welfare of minorities," President Pratibha Patil said Thursday. The United Progressive Alliance government was recently re-elected with a larger majority. Christians hope stiffer punishments for attackers will ward off more attacks on Christian homes and churches. The religious minority suffered frequent attacks from Hindu nationalists last August, and sporadic violence continues.

Missionary Shot to Death in South Africa

SperoNews reports that an elderly Austrian missionary has become the third priest killed in South Africa this year. Fr. Ernst Plöchl, 78, was found dead at a remote missionary station on May 31. The priest had ministered in South Africa for more than 40 years and ran a school with 400 students in the southern part of the country. Local authorities have released conflicting statements about the cause of his death. He will be buried in his hometown in Austria. Earlier in May, another missionary couple in South Africa was robbed a second time and the husband shot. SperoNews reports that the country has one of the highest percentiles of criminal violence in the world, with an average of 50 people killed every day.

Author Max Lucado Appeals for Child Sponsors in Ethiopia

Best-selling author and pastor Max Lucado is partnering with World Vision to find sponsorships for an additional 25,000 children in Ethiopia. Lucado joined World Vision President Richard Stearns, Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt and Women of Faith president Mary Graham on a May 5-11 visit to the African nation. “I never expected such poverty coupled with such joy," Lucado said after he returned. "There are more honest smiles among the poor of Ethiopia than the shopping malls of America. What a remarkable, life-changing trip.” World Vision currently benefits 187,000 children through sponsorships, and supports 65 Ethiopian development programs. “God is up to something big in Ethiopia, in America, and around the world,” says Lucado.