Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 26, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 26, 2009

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

  • Sri Lanka's Bishops Call for Prayer, Fasting for Religious Freedom
  • Second Murder Leaves Orissa Christian Open to More Attacks
  • PCUSA Considers Striking 'Homosexual Perversion' from Document
  • USCIRF: Tajikistan Threatens Religion


Sri Lanka's Bishops Call for Prayer, Fasting for Religious Freedom

AsiaNews reports that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) has called on believers to observe April 3 as a day of prayer and fasting against a possible anti-conversion bill. The bill, proposed by Buddhist monks, is due for a vote in the parliament soon. The bishops call for "divine intervention" to bring "harmony through reconciliation" among all citizens, and spare "the beloved country of another conflict among adherents of different faiths and religions," caused by the possible approval of the "anti-conversion bill." Sri Lanka's official government is engaged in civil war with the rebel Tamil Tigers group, trapping many believers in the conflict. CBCSL encourages congregations to collect donations to help affected areas.

Second Murder Leaves Orissa Christian Open to More Attacks

The Christian Post reports that Christians fear renewed violence after the murder of a second Hindu extremist leader last week. Around 15 men attacked and shot Prabbhat Panigrahi, a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu fundamentalist group. Panigrahi had just been released from prison in connection with the anti-Christian violence. A similar killing sparked widespread violence and rampages throughout Orissa and Karnataka last August. Maoists rebels claimed responsibility for the first killing, and are suspected to be the culprits of this second murder. In August, the acknowledgement did not prevent Hindu extremists from blaming Christians, leading to violence that killed dozens and displaced 50,000.

PCUSA Considers Striking 'Homosexual Perversion' from Document

A Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) will consider this week whether to strike a "negative reference" to homosexual behavior from a historic catechism, the Christian Post reports. Supporters say the General Assembly Special Committee on Correcting Translation Problems of the Heidelberg Catechism should remove "homosexual perversion" from a list of sinful behaviors in the document. They argue that the reference is not found in the original German, and say that they seek a more "historically faithful" translation." The PC(USA) is also considering a vote that would delete a fidelity and chastity requirement for ordained clergy from the denomination's constitution, thus removing a barrier to the ordination of open homosexuals.

USCIRF: Tajikistan Threatens Religion

Baptist Press reports that religious expression in the Central Asian country of Tajikistan may soon become even more restricted, according to a warning from a nonpartisan federal panel. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has reported that Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon is preparing to sign a religion law that will place more constraints on religion, especially Islam. The legislation, approved in March by Tajikistan's Parliament, includes the forced closing of hundreds of mosques and restrictions on the religious training of children, according to the commission. It also limits religious activities to state-sanctioned places of worship, mandates government censorship of religious literature and permits state regulation of religious groups, USCIRF said. Christians fear the bill's effects will reach them as well.