Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 12, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 12, 2010

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

  • Haitian Teen Leads Christmas Shoebox Effort for Haiti
  • Following Attacks, Many Iraqi Christians Desperate to Leave
  • Eritrea's Believers Face Difficult Christmas
  • New Sponsor Takes over Event Challenging Homosexuality

Haitian Teen Leads Christmas Shoebox Effort for Haiti

Four years ago, Deborah Hall was a nine-year-old girl living in a Haitian orphanage. That Christmas, she received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox filled with gifts. "I was very excited to receive the box. It was totally unexpected," said Hall, who made a list of the items in her shoe box so she would never forget. "But what was most special was a letter and picture of the American girl who sent me the gift." Hall is now 13 and resides in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. with her adoptive family. She is keenly aware of Haiti's sufferings. "I want the kids in Haiti to receive shoe box gifts and feel the same way I did," she told DeMossNews. This year Deborah joined thousands of people who put together shoeboxes, which will travel to impoverished children in more than 100 countries. National collection week for the project is November 15-22.

Following Attacks, Many Iraqi Christians Desperate to Leave

After a second round of attacks killed several more Iraqi Christians in Baghdad, many Christians in the city see no other option but to flee. "The church attack had a psychological effect on us," Raad Yacoub Khuanum told the UK Guardian as he repaired his kitchen, damaged by a bomb outside his house in the central suburb of al-Sana'a on Wednesday. "Now we know al-Qaida will kill us all." Many survivors have reportedly contacted foreign embassies looking for refuge. France has already offered 150 places for victims of last Sunday's church bombing, but embassy spokespeople say they are not encouraging people to leave. Iraqi Orthodox Archbishop Athanasios Dawood, however, has called for Christians to emigrate. "I say clearly and now - the Christian people should leave their beloved land of our ancestors and escape the premeditated ethnic cleansing," he said in a statement to CNN delivered from London.

Eritrea's Believers Face Difficult Christmas

Christians in Eritrea could face an oppressive Christmas if rumors of a government purge are true. According to Christian Today, at least 3,000 Christians belonging to non-traditional church groups have faced intense persecution in Eritrea and have often been imprisoned for their faith. "Eritrea has declared there will be a purge of Christians by Christmas," said Selam Kidane, director of Release Eritrea, at a Release conference in London. Catholic, Lutheran and Orthodox Christians are officially sanctioned by the state, but believers who refuse let the state dictate their denomination and beliefs have suffered. "What is taking place in Eritrea is now similar to what is happening in North Korea," she said. "Eritreans have become the new boat people of our time."

New Sponsor Takes over Event Challenging Homosexuality

CNN Belief Blog reports that Focus on the Family will now sponsor the annual "Day of Truth" challenging homosexuality, but will change its name to the "Day of Dialogue." The move comes after event's previous sponsor, Exodus International, dropped the event for being too "adversarial." The event's new site will go live Thursday. "We're trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we're helping to ensure Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint," said Candi Cushman, a Focus on the Family education analyst. "What is freedom of speech, after all, but a guarantee of the right to have dialogue?"