Religion Today Summaries, June 9, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, June 9, 2003

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

  • Coalition Forces Fail to Protect Christians

  • Theologians Ask Orthodox to Return to the World Council of Churches

  • New Studies Help 'Explode Myth' About Consequences of Abortion

  • Prelate Calls for Europe's Constitution to Recognize Christianity

Coalition Forces Fail to Protect Christians
Barnabas Fund News

Because of lawlessness and hostility from Muslim extremists, the Iraqi Christian community is increasingly vulnerable, but coalition forces fail to provide protection. Christian women who go out in public without a head covering are threatened and spat upon. Christian owned shops are burnt down and their owners killed. Members of the various Christian communities have asked the coalition for protection but turn away empty handed. A minister twice went to the local American commander to plead for American protection, but was refused. Shop owners are too afraid to open for business. They are left without means of support; the only food they have was stockpiled during the war. Many Christian homes are looted. In some cases looters have said that when they return they will kill the occupants because of their faith. While Christians rejoice at being free of Saddam, they also feel acutely vulnerable as religious leaders suddenly find themselves being able to get what they want, essentially, the application of Islamic law on both Christians and Muslims. "In the dictator's time we could sell alcohol but now there is democracy and freedom and we are not allowed to," said a former shopkeeper.  Some hospitals even refuse to see women with unveiled faces.  Christians, who do not comply with Islamic injunctions, are in genuine danger.

Theologians Ask Orthodox to Return to the World Council of Churches
David Anderson, Religion News Service

A group of Orthodox and Protestant theologians and church leaders has appealed to the Orthodox churches in Bulgaria and Georgia to return to membership in the World Council of Churches. The two Orthodox denominations left the WCC in 1998, climaxing several decades of growing tensions between Orthodox and Protestant churches in the international ecumenical body. The Orthodox churches felt they were treated unfairly in the Protestant-dominated body and objected to the liberal theology they saw being imposed on the WCC by North American and European Protestants. A special WCC commission has been studying the issues raised by Orthodox churches. The theologians and religious leaders said that as a result of the WCC study, there are "new possibilities for taking seriously and dealing responsibly with Orthodox." Archbishop Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and all Greece, told the symposium that "in spite of the negative experience we (Orthodox) have acquired all these years, we view the future of the theological dialogues, and generally our collaboration with our non-Orthodox brothers and sisters, with optimism." Christodoulos said the special WCC commission studying Orthodox participation in the council "created hopes that as Orthodox we can have an equal voice with the Protestants." 

New Studies Help 'Explode Myth' About Consequences Of Abortion
Michael Foust, Baptist Press News

Several recent studies support pro-lifers' claims that abortion's consequences are far-reaching and affect the emotional and physical well-being of the mother. One study found that women who aborted their first pregnancy are 65% more likely to be at risk for clinical depression than women who gave birth. Another study found that those who had an abortion were 2.6 times more likely to be admitted for psychiatric treatment in the 90 days following the abortion. Another report found that late abortions sometimes leave behind tiny bones from the child, causing future infertility problems. Such data helps "explode the myth" that abortion is a "simple solution" with no aftereffects, said William Cutrer, director of a pro-life crisis pregnancy center, and associate professor of Christian ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The clinic ministers to women seeking abortions, giving them a free ultrasound and telling them the truth about abortions. Some of the counselors are Christian women who had abortions, and now seek to steer other women away from abortion. Around 90 percent of the women they see have some negative reaction to abortion, including flashbacks, nightmares, depression, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse. "Only God's grace will lead to their repentance and healing," said an SBC member. "God often uses the church community, physicians and counselors to aid in this process." (

Prelate Calls for Europe's Constitution to Recognize Christianity
Robert Nowell, Religion News Service

The failure of the preamble to the draft constitution for the European Union to mention Europe's Christian heritage has been described as "an act of cultural vandalism" by Roman Catholic Archbishop Mario Conti. Writing in The Herald, the Glasgow daily newspaper, the archbishop noted that the preamble referred to "the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe" nourished "first by the civilizations of Greece and Rome" and "later by philosophical currents of the Enlightenment." It was what was missing that concerned Conti -- "the yawning historical and philosophical vacuum between the end of the Greco-Roman influence and the beginning of the Enlightenment." Conti joined a debate that has been raging fiercely across Europe as politicians seek to create a constitution for the European Union, at times dividing erstwhile allies on other issues. "This is no minor omission," Conti wrote. "It is an extraordinary attempt to write the name of Christ and the Christian church out of the consciousness of the new Europe. As such it is a profoundly dishonest reworking of history."