Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 16, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 16, 2006

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

  • Sri Lankan Christians Cry for Justice Amid Anarchy
  • Church Providing Katrina Relief Told: Bring Food, Keep Faith to Yourself
  • Local Politician Incites Attack on Christians in India
  • Rosie O’Donnell Stirs Christians’ Emotions

Sri Lankan Christians Cry for Justice Amid Anarchy

In a worsening climate of impunity as Sri Lanka falls into civil war, Buddhist militants have continued their campaign against Christianity, attacking churches and threatening Christian schools, Compass Direct News reports. Christians in Sri Lanka are calling for help from the international community following a rapid deterioration of law and order in the past week. The plea follows an attack last Wednesday (November 8) by the Sri Lankan armed forces on refugees sheltered at a school in Kathiraveli, a coastal town in the eastern district of Batticaloa. Protestant and Roman Catholic schools in and around Colombo have received letters demanding that they cancel all Christmas programs, and a mob of around 50 people led by four Buddhist monks arrived at an Assembly of God church in Yakkala, Gampaha and demanded that the pastor cease the service and all future ones.

Church Providing Katrina Relief Told: Bring Food, Keep Faith to Yourself

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund have sent a letter demanding that officials who operate several Hurricane Katrina trailer communities on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency cease prohibiting a church from sharing a gospel message after free barbeques the church provides to residents. The officials are also prohibiting the church from using community facilities for Bible studies even though other groups freely use the facilities.  Attendance at the gospel messages that follow the barbeques or at the Bible studies is completely voluntary. “Churches desiring to help those in need should not be given this kind of second-class treatment.  Indeed, the Constitution does not allow it,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.  “The desire of these church members is to provide food free of charge for victims of Hurricane Katrina, but now they are being told to keep quiet about the very faith that motivates them to help their neighbor.  No one is forced to attend the gospel messages or the Bible studies, and no written policies have been cited to justify the actions that have been taken.” Representatives of the Keta Group, which manages five separate trailer communities near the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, told the church that FEMA made the decisions regarding the gospel messages and the Bible studies, but they were unable to name any FEMA officials responsible for the decisions. “The actions of these officials are blatantly unconstitutional, and we are asking them to resume allowing the church to exercise its First Amendment right to free speech and religious expression,” Tedesco said. A copy of the letter sent by ADF attorneys today to housing officials on behalf of Calvary Baton Rouge Church and its pastor, James Lovett, can be read at ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.

Local Politician Incites Attack on Christians in India

During a panchayat or village council meeting convened last Thursday (November 9) to address threats against Christians in a village in Chhattisgarh state, a local politician and others attacked six Christians, including a pregnant woman. Compass Direct News reports the meeting took place in Bamhni village, in Bastar district. The village council remained mute as they watched the attack, in which the pregnant Sukbati Mandavi was kicked in the stomach. After politican Puran Patel and others beat the believers, the Christians fled to nearby Kondagaon police station – where officers refused to help them.

Rosie O’Donnell Stirs Christians’ Emotions

When Rosie O’Donnell said “radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like the United States,” she generated a lot of controversy. Various segments of the population – especially those who are conservative Christians – had a strong reaction to her words. A nationwide survey of that reaction conducted by The Barna Group suggests that although few Americans would challenge her right to make such statements, just as few share Rosie's point of view. One out of every six American adults was even aware of her words. Evangelical Christians were twice as likely to have heard about her statement. There was very little buzz among non-Christian adults: only 10% of those who associate with a non-Christian faith, and 14% of atheists and agnostics were aware of the remarks. Furthermore, most Americans disagreed with Ms. O’Donnell’s point of view. Only 10% strongly agreed with her statement, and 18% agreed somewhat, while 15% disagreed somewhat and 48% disagreed strongly. And yet, George Barna commented, "Notice that a substantial portion of the adult population shares some level of agreement with Miss O’Donnell’s perspectives on Christianity. As churches and other ministries seek to advance the Christian message, progress will be made in an increasingly challenging, if not hostile environment."