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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 17, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 17, 2006

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

  • Rick Warren Blasts Iraq War, Praises Syria
  • In the Wake of Disaster: Religious Responses to Terrorism & Catastrophe
  • Christian Beheadings Suspect 'Just Wanted Revenge'
  • Episcopal Leaders in No. Virginia Vote to Leave

Rick Warren Blasts Iraq War, Praises Syria

California mega-church pastor Rick Warren, author of the best-selling "Purpose-Driven Life," reportedly told a Syrian-controlled news agency the U.S. should have been holding dialogues with Damascus; Syrian Muslims and Christians co-exist peacefully; and the Syrian leadership is responsible for the nation's tolerance and stability. WorldNetDaily reports that's according to the news agency SANA as Warren visits Syria, much to the dismay of many in the U.S. "We at VCY America Radio network are appalled and angered that Rick Warren is praising a nation that has long supported international terrorism and that desires the utter destruction of Israel," said a statement from the broadcasting organization. The SANA reports included statements that: "Pastor Warren hailed the religious coexistence, tolerance and stability that the Syrian society is enjoying due to the wise leadership of President al-Assad, asserting that he will convey the true image about Syria to the American people." Warren told Syria's Islamic grand mufti there could be no peace in the region without Syria and 80 percent of Americans reject the U.S. administration's policies and actions in Iraq.

In the Wake of Disaster: Religious Responses to Terrorism & Catastrophe

Hurricane Katrina made the gaps in U.S. disaster policies extraordinarily clear. At the same time, reports the Templeton Foundation Press, the contributions of organized faith communities were highlights amidst the bungled federal, state, and local responses. One example is the New York Times, September 9, 2005, headline: “A New Meaning for ‘Organized Religion’: It Helps the Needy Quickly.” But as faith-based organizations look for ways to help, there are few guidelines. In the Wake of Disaster is a unique resource for faith communities and organizations on how they can effectively provide services in times of crisis. Dr. Harold G. Koenig presents a persuasive argument for local, state, and federal government policy leaders to make full use of these much-needed services and to integrate religious organizations into the formal disaster response system. The book also offers information on the psychological, social, and spiritual responses to trauma, including the role that religious communities can play in disaster response and recovery.

Christian Beheadings Suspect 'Just Wanted Revenge'

The Christian Post reports a suspected Islamic militant told judges Wednesday he took part in the beheadings of three Christian girls on an Indonesian island to avenge the deaths of Muslims, but apologized to their families. "We are not cold-blooded killers," Hasanuddin, 34, told the Central Jakarta District Court. "We just wanted revenge." Prosecutors allege that he and two other defendants ordered the Oct. 29, 2005, murders of the girls as they walked to school on Sulawesi. The men are being charged under Indonesia's tough anti-terrorism laws and face possible death sentences if convicted. "I was indeed involved in the beheadings," admitted Hasanuddin. He said he was motivated by anger "because authorities did nothing to avenge the massacres of Muslims" in Sulawesi.

Episcopal Leaders in No. Virginia Vote to Leave

Leaders of two of Virginia's most historic Episcopal parishes have voted to split from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, the Washington Times reports. The vestry of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax voted Saturday to depart from the Episcopal Church over questions of biblical authority and homosexuality. Then, Monday night, the vestry of the Falls Church, an equally historic Virginia congregation, voted to leave the Episcopal Church. Its rector, the Rev. John Yates, called the process a series of "terribly hard decisions" in a letter to church members. Falls Church sits on $17 million worth of prime real estate; Truro's property is worth about $10 million. Tom Wilson, senior warden of the Falls Church's vestry, said, in regards to Sunday's parish meeting, "The message we got from the congregation was that sadly, the theological disconnect between biblical Christianity and the road the [Episcopal] Church had chosen to walk was so profound, the time had come to separate from the denomination."