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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 24, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 24, 2009

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

  • Americans Attribute Bible's Verses on Poverty to Celebrities
  • Kennedy Discouraged From Communion by Bishop
  • Pakistan: Christian Janitor Died Saving Muslim Students
  • Arizona Youth Urges Thousands to Join Him for World AIDS Day

Americans Attribute Bible's Verses on Poverty to Celebrities

American Bible Society reports that Americans are confusing President Barack Obama's messages of hope with quotes from the Bible. A survey released today found 54 percent of U.S. adults attributed a Bible verse about caring for the poor and oppressed to celebrities, politicians, and others including Oprah, Bono, and Angelina Jolie rather than the Bible.  Obama received the highest percentage of attributions. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Bible Society, found a quarter of U.S. adults attributed the Old Testament verse "You must defend those who are helpless and have no hope.  Be fair and give justice to the poor and homeless" to either Obama or the Dalai Lama.  Only 13 percent correctly identified the source as the Bible. Next week the American Bible Society will release its new "Poverty and Justice Bible", which highlights verses pertaining to issues of poverty and injustice.

Kennedy Discouraged From Communion by Bishop

The New York Times reports that Representative Patrick J. Kennedy caused a stir on Sunday when he accused his bishop of refusing to serve him communion. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, however, says the "instruction" was only a request. Kennedy said the bishop "instructed me not to take communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me communion," according to The Providence Journal. Kennedy, the latest member of the famous Kennedy family to serve in Congress, said the injunction was due to his stance on abortion. In a statement Sunday, Tobin said the request was made in a private letter in February 2007. "In light of the church's clear teaching, and your consistent actions," the letter said, "I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving holy communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so."

Pakistan: Christian Janitor Died Saving Muslim Students

CNN reports that a Pakistani school is revering their Christian janitor as a hero after he died preventing a suicide bomber into the girls' school cafeteria. On Oct. 20, two suicide bomber's tried to enter Islamabad's International Islamic University, but the one targeting the women's side of campus met Pervaiz Masih, the school's new janitor. Masih stopped the bomber after he shot the guard on duty, arguing with the bomber when he tried to proceed. The bomber then self-detonated, killing himself, Masih, and three girls - far fewer than intended. "Between 300 to 400 girls were sitting in there," said Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university. "Despite being a Christian, [Pervez Masih] sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls." Masih's family, who depended on his $60 a month job, had to borrow money to bury him.

Arizona Youth Urges Thousands to Join Him for World AIDS Day

Christian Newswire reports that thousands will shoot free throws next week as part of Hoops of Hope, an HIV/AIDS relief group. Perhaps no one, however, will shoot more hoops for the cause than its founder, 15-year old Austin Gutwein from Mesa, Arizona. The teen has traveled to four continents, met thousands of supporters and has helped raise more than $1.6 million to fight the global spread of HIV/AIDS with World Vision, an international relief and development organization. The premise - $1 for each basket - has helped build schools and medical clinics in Zambia. Next year, Austin will be part of a nationwide campaign challenging Americans to shoot 15 million free throws, representing one for every child left orphaned by HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day is Tuesday, Dec. 1.