Religion Today Summaries - May 1, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 1, 2009

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

In today's edition:

  • Opponents: Gay Hate Crimes Bill Could Target Churches
  • Two Pakistani Christians Die after Taliban Attack
  • India: Christians Vote, Hope for Change in Elections
  • Rival Anglican Body Approves Dioceses; Finalizes Plans

Opponents: Gay Hate Crimes Bill Could Target Churches

Baptist Press reports that a bill extending hate crimes protections to homosexuals and transgendered individuals has been approved in the House of Representatives and faces little opposition in the Senate. "This bill puts Christians and many other religious groups in the government's crosshairs," said Barrett Duke, a vice president with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "While we should never condone acts of violence against anyone, for whatever reason... this bill proposes to prosecute someone based on their belief about homosexuality and therefore makes religious belief a germane issue in this debate." Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, called the bill "a backdoor tool... to shut down legitimate free speech from Christians and others who oppose their lifestyle." He told the Christian Post, "Pastors in Europe and Canada have already been arrested for preaching against homosexuality based on similar legislation."

Two Pakistani Christians Die after Taliban Attack

ASSIST News Service reports that two Christian teenagers have died from gunshot wounds sustained in a protest against Taliban advances on April 22. Police allegedly fired at the boys -- Imran Masih, 13, and Intikhab Masih, 18 -- during the incident. Former Member of Provincial Assembly Sindh, Michael Javaid said that militants had allegedly forced Christian residents of Taseer town to shout slogans “Taliban Zindabad” (Long Live Taliban) and “Islam Zindabad” (Long Live Islam). He said when Christian residents refused to chant slogans the militants made forcible entry into the church, desecrating the Bible and looting other Christian homes. Javaid has demanded the government provide security and protection for Christians in the area. A committee has been formed to probe the April 22 incident.

India: Christians Vote, Hope for Change in Elections

Mission News Network reports believers in Orissa, India, helped jumpstart India's national elections April 16, voting in relative peace after months of extremist attacks. Some Christians, especially those living in relief camps after their homes were destroyed, had feared they would not be able to vote. However, officials said they began elections in Orissa state to allow increased security on the area, which has been plagued by anti-Christian violence since fall 2008. "This is kind of a historic thing where in the past, things like this would bring fear and keep the Christians from voting," says Danny Punnose of Gospel for Asia. "But this is going to bring a very loud statement to those in power that you cannot hurt minorities without repercussions taking place." Elections continue in other states until May 16.

Rival Anglican Body Approves Dioceses; Finalizes Plans

The Christian Post reports that a group of breakaway parishes in Canada have joined the newly-formed Anglicans Church in North America (ACNA). The Anglican Network in Canada, which split from the more theologically liberal Anglican Church of Canada, will become the 28th diocese for the new province. "It is a great encouragement to see the fruit of many years’ work," said the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, who is expected to head the ACNA, on Saturday. "Today 23 dioceses and five dioceses-in-formation joined together to reconstitute an orthodox, Biblical, missionary and united Church in North America." The ACNA, formed in 2008, represents about 700 breakaway parishes and 100,000 Anglicans. The body has yet to be formally recognized by the entire Anglican Communion and church's spiritual head, the Archbishop of Canterbury.