Religion Today Summaries - March 27, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 27, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Philippines Pastors Face Death for Ministry to Muslims
  • Wisconsin Returns Sex-Ed Decisions to Schools
  • Tunisia: Thousands of Salafist Muslims Rally for Sharia Law
  • Report: Church Giving Dropped $1.2 Billion in 2010 Recession


Philippines Pastors Face Death for Ministry to Muslims

Though the Philippines is a mostly Christian nation, Christians in the south face persecution and death where Muslims are trying to build an Islamic state, CBN News reports. This year, at least four house churches have shut down after their pastors and lay leaders were killed by Muslim extremists. Pastor Mario Acidre, a convert from Islam who boldly shared the gospel with his Muslim relatives and neighbors, was one of them; he was murdered in his own home shortly after telling some Muslim vendors he didn't believe in the amulets they were trying to sell him. The incident "triggered threats to other Muslims who converted," leading to several house churches closing down, said Pastor Edilberto Beira, coordinator of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines in the Muslim region. Acidre's widow and other believers, however, continue to worship at the only surviving Christian church in their city. Even though church attendance has decreased by 70 percent, Beira said he believes the church will prevail even if driven underground. "We are still confident that the work of the Lord will go on," he said.

Wisconsin Returns Sex-Ed Decisions to Schools

Wisconsin's legislature recently repealed a law mandating that comprehensive sex education be taught in schools -- allowing educators to decide what kinds of lessons are appropriate for their students going forward, WORLD News Service reports. The measure, which the governor is expected to sign, requires schools that choose to teach sex-ed to emphasize the fact that abstinence is the only fool-proof method of birth control and that marriage has the greatest socioeconomic benefits for individuals and society. In contrast to the former law, schools are no longer required to teach about contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Mary Ann Mosack, vice chairman of the National Abstinence Education Association advisory board, said the bill would empower school districts to plug in the values of their communities. "[It] allows local school districts and parents to choose an abstinence-centered program, which was prohibited in the former law," she said.

Tunisia: Thousands of Salafist Muslims Rally for Sharia Law

Thousands of Salafist Muslims calling to include Islamic sharia law in the new Tunisian constitution gathered for a rally in front of the National Constituent Assembly in Bardo on March 16, the Gatestone Institute reports. The demonstrators, estimated to number around 30,000, chanted a variety of slogans, such as "Our Koran is our constitution," "No constitution without sharia" and "Tunisia is neither secular nor scientific, it is an Islamic state." The North African magazine Le Courrie de l'Atlas reported that according to Salafists' Internet pages, the crowd was "compact and excited," and when the protesters "started shouting together 'Allahu akbar [Allah is the greatest]!' they sent shockwaves through the floor." Islamists won a majority of seats in the Constituent Assembly in October 2011 -- Tunisia's first elections after its "Arab Spring" revolution -- and appear to be making great gains in the new government.

Report: Church Giving Dropped $1.2 Billion in 2010 Recession

Though membership in U.S. churches remains relatively stable, the effects of the recession have caused giving to drop by $1.2 billion, the Religion News Service reports. According to the 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, the almost $29 billion contributed by church members represented a 2.2 percent decrease in terms of per capita giving. The $1.2 billion decline in 2010 was nearly three times as large as the $431 million in losses reported in 2009, and provided "clear evidence of the impact of the deepening crises in the reporting period," said the Rev. Eileen Lindner, the Yearbook's editor. The data was collected from 228 U.S. denominations in 2011.

Publication date: March 27, 2012