Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 6, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 6, 2009

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

  • Remember Persecuted Christians Worldwide this Sunday
  • Vatican Criticizes Court's Crucifix Decision
  • New Dimension in India's Anti-Christian Violence Feared
  • Rick Warren, Reader's Digest Part Ways on Magazine Project

Remember Persecuted Christians Worldwide this Sunday

Human rights groups are asking believers to say a special prayer for fellow Christians worldwide this Sunday, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. According to the Christian Newswire, Open Doors USA asked believers to remember people like Maryam Rostampour, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, two Iranian women who have been held in Tehran's Evin prison since March 5 for their faith. The women have been asked to recant multiple times. The U.S. State Department designated Iran, along with seven other countries, as "Countries of Particular Concern" for their religious repression on Oct. 26. "Maryam and Marzieh are suffering in an Iranian prison simply for refusing to recant their belief in Jesus Christ...they truly are modern heroes of the faith," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. "We must speak out against this injustice. Join our campaign urging the Iranian government to release these women."

Vatican Criticizes Court's Crucifix Decision

Religion News Service reports that Italian politicians joined the Vatican to criticize a European court's decision that displaying crucifixes in Italy's public schools violates the human rights of nonbelievers. "For us it is an absolutely unacceptable sentence," said Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose government said it will appeal the decision, issued on Tuesday (Nov. 3) by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The court did not order removal of the crucifixes, which are supposed to hang in all classrooms and courtrooms. Instead, the seven judges awarded 5,000 euro (about $7,400) in damages to a woman who charged that the religious symbols interfered with her right to raise her children according to secular principles. "This Europe of the third millennium leaves us only the pumpkins of the recently celebrated holiday and takes away the dear symbols," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who as Vatican secretary of state is the church's second highest official after Pope Benedict XVI. "This religious symbol is a symbol of universal love, not of exclusion but of welcome."

New Dimension in India's Anti-Christian Violence Feared

Compass Direct News reports that authorities in India increasingly view Hindu rightwing extremists as a threat not only to Muslim and Christian minorities but also to national security. A string of Hindu terrorists have been arrested recently for exploding bombs. Historically Hindu terrorist groups have traded blows with India's Muslim extremists, but because of a perceived threat from Christianity - as one Hindu extremist leader expressed to Compass - many analysts believe Hindu terrorists increasingly pose dangers to Christians as well. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council, said that while terrorism was not new for rightwing groups, some of the extremist groups had "metamorphosed into fully fledged terrorism squads on classical lines - cells with local leaders, supply lines, bomb-making experts, and clear linkage with the intellectuals and motivators in the RSS [Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] hierarchy."

Rick Warren, Reader's Digest Part Ways on Magazine Project

The Christian Post reports that Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Connection magazine will drop its print format in 2010, according to Wednesday's announcement. The quarterly magazine, which launched less than a year ago, saw "slow, steady growth" but didn't "explode" as hoped, said Brian Bird, managing editor of the magazine. The magazine will go to an all-digital format in 2010, available for free online. "Our biggest discovery was learning that people prefer reading our content online rather than in print because it is more convenient and accessible," said Warren, who noted the online format will make the content available to a wider international audience that could not afford the subscription fee. "Thankfully, Reader's Digest was willing to help us make the transition."