Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 7, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 7, 2006

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

  • Megachurch Members Accept Haggard's Plea for Forgiveness
  • Amnesty International: Gospel Singer Released in Eritrea
  • Arrests of Christians Continue in Karnataka, India
  • Kids Across the U.S. Join Effort to Help Operation Christmas Child

Megachurch Members Accept Haggard's Plea for Forgiveness

The Christian Post reports that members of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs were brought to tears this past weekend by the Rev. Ted Haggard's confessions of "sexual immorality." The church then accepted his plea for forgiveness. Haggard apologized Sunday through a letter read from the pulpit of the 14,000-member church he founded. Some wiped away tears and embraced each other as they heard the letter read by a member of the board that fired him a day earlier. "The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem," Haggard wrote. "I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life." Haggard, 50, resigned last week as president of the National Association of Evangelicals after a male escort claimed to have had sensual involvement with him involving drugs. New Life's Overseer Board fired Haggard Saturday. In his letter, Haggard said "the accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from the ministry." He did not specify which accusations were true.

Amnesty International: Gospel Singer Released in Eritrea

Amnesty International says gospel singer Helen Berhane, who belonged to a banned evangelical church in Eritrea, has been released after more than two years in detention, most of it "in inhuman and degrading conditions inside a metal shipping container." AgapePress reports that the human rights group says Eritrean "authorities reportedly tortured her many times" in an unsuccessful effort to make her recant her faith. It adds that injuries to Berhane's feet and legs from beatings have left her confined to a wheelchair. Amnesty International says Berhane is among 2,000 evangelicals arrested in Eritrea, which allows only Islam, Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and Lutheran Christianity. The U.S. State Department lists Eritrea among the world's worst violators of religious rights.

Arrests of Christians Continue in Karnataka, India

Compass Direct News reports police in the southern state of Karnataka have arrested four more Christians on charges leveled by Hindu extremists. On October 27, police in Udupi district arrested four Christian youths, including three girls, for forcibly converting Hindus. According to Dajiworld News Network, the Christians, identified only as Robin, Karen, Asha and Flavin, are from the Mabukal area near Brahmavar. Police made the arrests after Girish Kundapur, the leader of a Hindu extremist organization, filed a complaint alleging they were “visiting the houses of Hindus and misleading the people.”

Kids Across the U.S. Join Effort to Help Operation Christmas Child

A massive volunteer effort is now underway as kids nationwide pack millions of gift-filled shoe boxes - helping to bring joy to struggling children overseas who may be opening the first gifts they have ever received. Through the power of this simple gift, Operation Christmas Child, the world's largest Christmas project, wants to share that feeling of joy with a record number of hurting kids - 8 million in some 90 countries. "It's a little symbol of hope that touches the lives of so many people - bringing joy to hurting children in other parts of the world while also giving kids here in the United States a wonderful opportunity to learn about generosity and compassion," said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse. OCC's national collection week is Nov. 13-20, during which more than 8 million gift-filled shoe boxes will be collected at drop-off locations across the United States and in 10 other countries. The shoe boxes are filled with carefully-chosen gifts including toys, school supplies, necessity items, and hand-written notes of encouragement. These simple gifts help bring hope to children who are suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, poverty, and famine. For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call (800) 353-5949 or visit National Collection Week is Nov. 13-20; however, shoe box gifts are collected all year.