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Religion Today Summaries - May 18, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 18, 2009

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

  • Pakistan: Families Flee Swat Offensive into Peshawar
  • Christian Children's Fund Drops 'Christian' from Name
  • Somalia: Fighting Sparks Fresh Wave of Refugees
  • Religious People Make for Better Communities, Study Says


Pakistan: Families Flee Swat Offensive into Peshawar

ASSIST News Service reports that at least 60 Christian families have managed to take refuge in Rasalpur, near Peshawar in Pakistan, after fleeing battles between the Pakistani military and the Taliban. Christians and Sikhs are among tens of thousands of people who have fled from the four war-plagued districts of North West Frontier Province including Swat. The Taliban began enforcing Sharia (Islamic) law in Swat after striking a deal with the Pakistan government in February of this year. “[M]any walked for days to reach NWFP districts of Mardan and Swabi where the government has set up refugee camps,” said a report by Minorities Concern of Pakistan. “Thousands are still waiting to be registered as refugees to get food and shelter.” Approximately 300,000 people have left their homes because of the conflict.

Christian Children's Fund Drops 'Christian' from Name

Religion News Service reports that Christian Children's Fund, an organization that helps needy children across the globe, has decided to change its name to ChildFund International as part of its plan to broaden its outreach. "We are now part of an alliance of 12 organizations around the world who have the same goal of working to help deprived children in developing countries," said Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of the Richmond, Va.- based charity. "All members of the alliance are taking on the same name, ChildFund." The charity, founded in 1938, was one of the first organizations to offer "sponsorships" of individual children, originally working with children in China.

Somalia: Fighting Sparks Fresh Wave of Refugees

Reuters reports that clashes between militant extremists and pro-government forces have unleashed a new wave of refugees in Somalia, sending 27,000 civilians from the capital. Aid agencies say the latest burst of fighting will make the country's humanitarian crisis worse. "In the midst of an already existing catastrophe, reports of continued fighting, civilian deaths, including women and children, are extremely worrying," said Andrea Pattison, spokeswoman for the charity Oxfam. Militant al Shabaab fighters have killed 113 people in the last two weeks, while the continued violence threatens to destabilize the fledgling government. Pascal Mauchle, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross's Somalia delegation, said, "The daily struggle for survival is exhausting [the people of Somalia's] capacity to cope."

Religious People Make for Better Communities, Study Says

Religion News Service reports that people of faith are better citizens and better neighbors, says Harvard University professor Robert Putnam. But there's a problem: young Americans are "vastly more secular" than their older counterparts. "That is a stunning development," Putnam said. "The youth are the future. Some of them are going to get religious over time, but most of them are not." Still, Putnam and University of Notre Dame scholar David Campbell argue that religion still holds communities together. Their studies found that religious people are three to four times more likely to be involved in their community, serving on volunteer organization and working on community projects. Putnam and Campbell say their data show that religious people are just "nicer," probably because of the relationships people make in their churches, mosques, synagogues and temples that draw them into community activism.