Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 10, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 10, 2009

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

  • Survey: Non-Religious Americans on the Rise in Every State
  • One Woman Dead in Attack on Christians in Pakistan
  • Group Remembers Three Eritrean Martyrs
  • Vatican Worries about Faith-Based Web Addresses

Survey: Non-Religious Americans on the Rise in Every State

A new survey of American religious life shows that the number of people who claim no religion has nearly doubled since 1990, the Christian Post reports. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), only 8.2 percent did not claim a religion in a 1990 version of the study, compared to 15 percent today. The number of outright atheists has atheists has nearly doubled to 1.6 million today, but still only comprise about 1.6 percent of the population. Much of the non-religious ("Nones") population now resides in Northern New England, the study found. "The ‘Nones’ are the only group to have grown in every state of the Union," said Ariela Keysar, associate director of Trinity’s Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture. The percentage of Christians has also decreased, the survey showed, shrinking from 86.2 percent in the 1990s to 76.7 percent today.

One Woman Dead in Attack on Christians in Pakistan

Compass Direct News reports that gun and club attacks on a Presbyterian church and neighboring homes in the predominantly Christian area of a village in Pakistan last week killed one woman and left 16 people wounded. Seeking revenge for a robbery complaint that a Christian filed against him, local Muslim Waseem Butt on March 2 led groups of his friends and family members in indiscriminate attacks aimed at the Christian community in Sangu-Wali, village, near Aroop town in Gujranwala district, reported advocacy group Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan (SLMP). Groups of between five and 15 Muslims arriving from different directions attacked the church and area homes, said Sohail Johnson, head of SLMP. During the violence, 45-year-old Shakeela Bibi sustained bamboo rod blows to the head and died before reaching the hospital.

Group Remembers Three Eritrean Martyrs

Mission News Network reports that a persecution watchdog is honoring the memory of a Christian woman and two Christian men who were killed for their faith in Eritrea this month. International Christian Concern (ICC) notes that persecution by Eritrea's ruling party places the country in ninth place on the watchdog's "Hall of Shame" list, following other high-risk areas such as North Korea, Iraq and Iran. An estimated 2,000 Eritrean Christians have been jailed since 2002. All three Christians were arrested for participation in unsanctioned denominations, and suffered extreme torture for their decision. The two men were deliberately exposed to malaria while incarcerated, and offered medication only if they recanted. All three refused, and were subsequently put to death. ICC encourages prayer for all Christians in Eritrea.

Vatican Worries about Faith-Based Web Addresses

Religion News Service that establishing Internet domain names based on religion would lead to "bitter disputes" among churches, the Vatican has warned. Domain names that refer to religion, such as ".catholic, .anglican, .orthodox, .hindu, .islam; .muslim, .buddhist, etc. ... could provoke competing claims among theological and religious traditions," wrote Msgr. Carlo Maria Polvani, a Vatican diplomat, in a Feb. 20 statement to the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit entity responsible for the Internet's naming system. Such disputes "would force ICANN, implicitly and/or explicitly, to abandon its wise policy of neutrality by recognizing to a particular group or to a specific organization the legitimacy to represent a given religious tradition," Polvani wrote.