Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 21, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 21, 2008

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

  • Extremists Demand End to Christian Activity in Orissa
  • Cali. Fires Leave Thousands Homeless
  • Christian Leaders Ask Bush to Lobby India on Violence
  • Divisions Compromising Church's Peace Message, Leader Says

Extremists Demand End to Christian Activity in Orissa

Gospel for Asia reports that two of the anti-Christian extremist groups responsible for the violence against Christians in Orissa, India, are demanding that the state government ban Christian witnessing and officially honor their murdered leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. At the same time, Orissa’s state government announced that it would give up to 200,000 rupees ($3,990) to the churches whose buildings were destroyed and 100,000 rupees ($1,995) for those that were damaged. About 50,000 people representing the Sangh Parivar and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) extremist groups rallied in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, on November 15.

Cali. Fires Leave Thousands Homeless

The Catholic News Service reports that wildfires in California have burned 42,000 acres and destroyed almost 1,000 homes, forcing thousands others to evacuate from the threat. Local Catholic churches have stepped up to assist fellow parishioners whose homes were lost in the blaze, taking Communion to those evacuated in high schools and helping sift through what remains of others' homes for valuables. The St. Didacus parish planned to open an assistance center Nov. 21 to provide food, clothing and essentials for a two-week period. According to St. Didacus business manager Frank Cantu, the parish was collecting financial donations through its Christian Service Fund to be distributed to fire victims.

Christian Leaders Ask Bush to Lobby India on Violence

Religion News Service reports that prominent Catholic, Orthodox and mainline Protestant leaders are asking President Bush to express America's "abhorrence of the continued violence against Christians and other minorities" in India. Because Bush signed a bilateral nuclear trade agreement with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the leaders are asking him to hold the Indian government accountable to its own constitution that guarantees religious freedom to all citizens. In order to stop the violence against Christians by Hindu nationalists, the U.S. church leaders say Bush must urge Singh to pressure the local governments to protect the religious rights of its people. "Only if India agrees and acts with good will toward all its citizens will it continue to be viewed as a responsible global partner worthy of a place on the world stage with other democratic nations," the leaders said.

Divisions Compromising Church's Peace Message, Leader Says

Setri Nyomi, General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, said Tuesday that internal divisions in the church undermine its effectiveness as a peacemaker in a troubled world. Addressing more than 1,000 Christians at the "Civilization of Peace: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue" conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, Nyomi said,“How can churches and church bodies foster world peace, peace among nations and peace within nations, when there is no peace among themselves, or when injustices that are so much at the heart of conflicts in the world are also found among us?” He continued, "We are saddened by the visible signs of division – including new divisions that have occurred – and how the church continues to be threatened by division, not so much on doctrinal lines but on ideological and ethical lines."