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Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 19, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 19, 2009

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

  • Columbia: Guerrillas Threaten, Kill Christians
  • Salvation Army Raises Record $130M amid Downturn
  • Appeals Court Upholds Texas Moment of Silence Law
  • Highly Religious Patients Fight to Live Longer

Columbia: Guerrillas Threaten, Kill Christians

Compass Direct News reports that a pastor in Colombia’s northern department of Arauca took seriously the death threats that guerrillas issued on Friday (March 13). The leftist rebels from the National Liberation Army (ELN) previously sentenced him to die for holding Christian worship services in 2006. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have issued similar threats, and carried them out. FARC guerrillas control the southwestern department of Huila, where last November four Christians were killed. Their pastor, Hernan Camacho, has moved with his family out of the area after receiving death threats. “[The FARC guerrillas] say that we, the evangelical ones, are their worst enemy because we teach the people not to take up weapons,” Pastor Camacho said.

Salvation Army Raises Record $130M Amid Downturn

The Salvation Army recently announced that the 2008 holiday season broke two donation records in the Red Kettle campaign, according to the Christian Post. Despite hard time, donations to the charity hit $130 million, surpassing the previous record by $12 million. The charity also saw a 10 percent spike in donations over the previous year -- the largest one-year jump since 1997. "The record level of Red Kettle fundraising this year is an indicator that the American public is still willing to give during times of great need," said Salvation Army spokesperson Melissa Temme. Still, areas such as Detroit saw significant drops in donations. "So, while this (total giving) is obviously good news, we don’t want to downplay the significant struggles that certain parts of the country are having in terms of fundraising and the fact that the money raised locally stays locally," Temme said.

Appeals Court Upholds Texas Moment of Silence Law

Religion News Service reports that a federal appeals court on Monday (March 16) upheld a Texas law that requires public school students to observe a daily minute of silence following the Pledge of Allegiance. "The statute is facially neutral between religious and nonreligious activities that students can choose to engage in during the moment of silence," a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote. The judges quoted a decision by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that said "It is difficult to discern a serious threat to religious liberty from a room of silent, thoughtful schoolchildren." The Texas ordinance, which took effect in September 2003, says students can use the minute to "reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student."

Highly Religious Patients Fight to Live Longer

The Christian Post reports that advanced cancer patients who rely on religion to cope with their situation are more likely to seek aggressive treatment until the end, a new study finds. "People think that spiritual patients are more likely to say their lives are in God’s hands – 'Let what happens happen' – but in fact we know they want more aggressive care," said Holly G. Prigerson, the study’s senior author and director of the Center for Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, according to The New York Times. "To religious people, life is sacred and sanctified, and there's a sense they feel it's their duty and obligation to stay alive as long as possible," she added. The study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.