Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 18, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 18, 2008

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

  • Methodist Groups Target Israel
  • Pope Denounces Iraq War
  • Study: God Relationship Not Most Important to Americans
  • Algeria Cracks Down on Churches

Methodist Groups Target Israel

Baptist Press reports that several groups within the United Methodist Church have responded to Israel's clampdown on the Gaza Strip by urging divestment in companies that do business with Israel and publishing media critical of the Jewish state. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the denomination's lobbying arm, will bring a resolution to the United Methodist General Conference in April urging church members and denominational agencies to divest from Caterpillar Inc., a manufacturer of heavy equipment that Israel uses to raze Palestinian properties it believes are connected to terrorist activities, according to Mark Tooley of The Institute on Religion and Democracy. The United Methodist Women's Division, meanwhile, has published a children's book and a missions study that portray Israel as an oppressor of Palestinians and aggressor in Middle East turmoil, while barely mentioning the problem of terrorism Israel faces, Tooley said in a press statement.

Pope Denounces Iraq War

According to the Associated Press, Pope Benedict XVI issued one of his strongest appeals for peace in Iraq Sunday, after the body of the kidnapped Chaldean Catholic archbishop was found near Mosul. The pope denounced the 5-year-long Iraq war, saying it had provoked the complete breakup of Iraqi civilian life. "Enough with the slaughters. Enough with the violence. Enough with the hatred in Iraq!" Benedict said to applause at the end of his Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square. On Thursday, the body of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was found near Mosul. He had been abducted on Feb. 29.

Study: God Relationship Not Most Important to Americans

In the eyes of the world, America is a religious - even Christian - nation. But the Christian Post reports that a new study revealed the majority of Americans do not rank their relationship with God as the most important personal connection in their life. Seven out of 10 American adults choose their earthly family over the Heavenly Father when asked to choose the most important relationship to them, according to a new Barna Group study. One-third said their entire nuclear family is most important, while nearly a quarter (22 percent) named their spouse and one-sixth (17 percent) pointed to their children. An additional three percent of American adults identified their parents as the most important relationship in their lives. Only 19 percent, or nearly one out of every five adults, said their relationship with God, Jesus Christ, the Trinity, or Allah (specific names) is the most important in their life.

Algeria Cracks Down on Churches

According to Compass Direct News, police ordered two Algerian churches to cease activity last week, the latest in a series of 10 church closures and further court cases against foreign and local Christians. In Tizi Ousou, security police on March 9 notified pastor Salah Chalah to close his 1,200-member Full Gospel Church. Police issued notice to a second pastor, Mustapha Krireche, to close down his church in Tizi Ouzou’s Nouvelle Ville district. “They are trying to establish a minority, which might give foreign powers a pretext to intervene with Algeria’s domestic affairs,” Religious Affairs Minister Bu ‘Abdallah Ghoulamullah told reporters. Written police orders called on both churches to “cease all activity until [their] situation could be regularized and brought into conformity” with a 2006 religion law governing non-Muslim worship.