Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 20, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 20, 2009

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

  • Evangelicals Applaud Obama for Sudan Envoy Appointment
  • Anti-Conversion Bill Debate in Sri Lank Suffers Setback
  • Denver Churches Offer Job Help and a Prayer
  • Some Christians Stay Put in Iraq; Others Arrive in Germany


Evangelicals Applaud Obama for Sudan Envoy Appointment

The Christian Post reports that President Barack Obama has appointed retired Air Force Gen. J. Scott Gration to serve as special envoy to Sudan. “I believe President Obama is taking the right action by appointing retired Air Force General Scott Gration as Special Envoy to Sudan,” said Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “This is a critical time in Sudan and it is important for the United States to do as much as possible to help the millions of people whose lives hang in the balance because of the ongoing crises there." The Rev. Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, international director and CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance, also praised President Obama’s new appointment, saying that "millions of lives are at risk" in Darfur after 13 agencies were recently expelled.

Anti-Conversion Bill Debate in Sri Lank Suffers Setback

ASSIST News Service reports that the controversial anti-conversion bill under consideration in Sri Lanka has suffered a great setback. Parliament recently suspended the bill as a result of intense opposition from the Christian population. In a report from the UK-based Release International (RI), a parliamentary committee comprised of Christian members and leaders of political parties examined the bill and agreed that it could have serious consequences on religious activities, spark inter-religious conflict and possibly violate the country's constitution. Minister of Religious Affairs Pandu Bandaranayake confirmed that Christians have called for clearer wording in the bill. The bill will be re-examined by the Ministry's religious consultative committee, despite the opposition from the Buddhist-led party, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU)

Denver Churches Offer Job Help and a Prayer

The Detroit News reports that the city's churches are becoming career centers, providing laid-off workers with services like resume writing and interviewing tips. "We have seen our own members facing these major transitions. At a time when this is really prevalent, we can't ignore it," said the Rev. Barry Allen, pastor of Bethesda Christian Church in Sterling Heights. "It's a hard, hard transition in life, even if you know it's coming." While Allen notes that the focus is getting practical help to the community, the church does include its faith. Allen does not always include prayer or Scripture references at workshops, but often hands out prayer request sheets to those attending.

Some Christians Stay Put in Iraq; Others Arrive in Germany

Agence-France Presse reports that some Christian communities in Iraq are determined to ride out the storm. The tiny Armenian minority, which has resided in current-day Iraq since the 17th century, has dwindled from 35,000-40,000 in the 1950s to only 12,000 today. Still, "This is our land too. We are here to stay" despite having "problems sometimes with the (Islamist) fanatics," said Archpriest Nareg Ishkhanian. "The rich have all gone. Now, we are the rich because we serve the church and the community." Meanwhile, a group of 122 Iraqis, many of them Christians, arrived in northern Germany as refugees. They are the first wave of 10,000 vulnerable Iraqi refugees who will be offered three-year, extendable residency permits in member countries of the European Union, the Associated Press reports.