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Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 12, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 12, 2009

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

  • Study: Mainline Clergy Growing Even More Liberal
  • Egyptian Christian Burned Alive; Father Murdered Also
  • Developing Nations Slow to Adopt New Technology, Survey Finds
  • Conn. Lawmakers Withdraw Bill on Church Finances

Study: Mainline Clergy Growing Even More Liberal

Religion News Service reports that mainline Protestant clergy are inching leftward. Over the last decade, increasing numbers are identifying themselves as Democrats, supporting gay rights and calling on the government to solve social problems, according to the "Clergy Voices" study released March 6. Similar studies were conducted in 1989 and 2001. Mainline Protestants make up 18 percent of the country, according to researchers. But they are "arguably the most neglected of the major religious groups in the American religious landscape," said Robert P. Jones, president of Public Religion Research, who co-authored the survey. Historically, 53 percent of this group identified itself as Democratic, with 3 percent more agreeing in the 2008 survey. Support for environmental protection is up 10 percent to 70 percent total. Support for "gays and lesbians to have the same rights and privileges as other Americans" rose 9 percent to nearly 8 in 10 clergy.

Egyptian Christian Burned Alive; Father Murdered Also

The Christian Post that Christian/Muslim violence flared in Egypt Friday (March 6) after rumors surfaced of an interfaith relationship between a Christian man and Muslim man's sister. Yasser Ahmed Qasim reportedly doused 25-year-old Sabri Shihata, with gasoline and lit the Coptic Christian on fire. Shihata died from his wounds. Shihata's 60-year-old father, also named Sabri, was later stabbed to death by a group of Muslims when he returned to the village. The group then turned to Shihata's 22-year-old brother, Rami, who survived but sustained serious head injury. Police have arrested all involved with the attack, including Shihata. Incidents of sectarian violence have increased in the area of Qalubiya, north of Cairo, as mixed communities in favor of separate religious communities. The Egyptian government has often refused to recognized conversion from Islam.

Developing Nations Slow to Adopt New Technology, Survey Finds

ASSIST News Service reports that a new survey of people in four developing countries shows that they are decades behind their Western counterparts in the adoption of emerging technologies. Radio remains vital for information they use in their everyday lives. “Radio was an important means of gaining information in Africa long before these countries gained independence in the 1950s and '60s, and it's still the dominant means of communications,” said Dr. Robert Fortner, executive director of the International Center for Media Studies (ICMS). “The same trends hold true elsewhere in the developing world as well. For the missionary who works in Asia, or the nonprofit organization that provides relief in the Middle East or Latin America, this information is just as valuable.” ICMS conducted the study and plans to present further findings at a conference in April.

Conn. Lawmakers Withdraw Bill Dictating Control of Church Finances

Cybercast News Service reports that a bill in the Connecticut legislature that would have removed Catholic Church administration from the church hierarchy has been withdrawn. The bill had sparked massive public outrage, and thousands were expected to attend a public hearing on bill Wednesday. If the law had passed, a board of laypersons from the diocese would have had governance of church finances, with the bishop sitting as a non-voting member. The bill's sponsors released a statement Tuesday announcing that they had "decided to cancel the public hearing for tomorrow, table any further consideration of this bill for the duration of this session, and ask the Attorney General his opinion regarding the constitutionality of the existing law that sets different rules for five named separate religions.” Church bishops had called the bill a "grave violation" of religious liberty.