Religion Today Summaries - November 23, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 23, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • From Pakistani Slum, 5,000-Seat Church Rises
  • Personhood USA Launches Third Try for Amendment in Colorado
  • Democracy in Indonesia 'A Lie'
  • Somali Famine Victims Scared to Return Home


From Pakistani Slum, 5,000-Seat Church Rises

A newly built church in a Karachi slum that can seat as many as 5,000 worshipers is a testament to the resilience and hope of Pakistani Christians amid persecution in the violent, Muslim-majority country, the Washington Post reports. The three-story St. Peter's of Karachi is the largest yet in Pakistan, and was built on the site of a smaller church in an area that is home to around 15,000 Christians. "There were so many people here it was not possible for us to accommodate them on Sundays," said Father Saleh Diego. "Now we can pray together, all 5,000 people, worship the Lord and really share and strengthen our faith." As in the case of St. Peter's, new churches built in Pakistan are typically in poor Christian neighborhoods -- ghettos of extreme poverty often separated from their Muslim neighbors by high walls -- so there is usually no direct opposition to their construction. Father Diego said his church was concerned about rising radicalism and persecution in Pakistan, but that his building had received no threats.

Personhood USA Launches Third Try for Amendment in Colorado

Personhood USA, the Denver-based pro-life group that sponsored an unsuccessful personhood amendment in Mississippi -- declaring fertilization as the start of human life -- is mobilizing again to push for a similar ballot initiative in Colorado in 2012, according to the Denver Post. Personhood amendments have failed twice in Colorado -- in 2008 and 2010 -- but the organization is hopeful for the third try. After some concerns with the language of the Mississippi initiative, the new version will be worded differently "to hopefully prohibit lies of our opponents," said Jennifer Mason of Personhood USA. "[It] will protect every child, no matter their size, level of development, gender, age or race." To get the measure on Colorado's 2012 ballot, approximately 79,000 petition signatures are needed, and volunteers have already begun widespread grassroots efforts. Personhood USA will also be pushing for the same measure in Oregon and Montana.

Democracy in Indonesia 'A Lie'

Despite Indonesia's movement toward democracy, human rights groups say the country continues to violate human rights and allow the targeting of religious minorities, reports. In the Muslim-majority nation, mob violence against religious minorities is common, especially in remote areas. A Human Rights Watch spokeswoman said Indonesia's "dirty little secret" was that it imprisoned political dissidents, such as Filep Karma, who was found guilty of treason in 2004 for raising a pro-independence flag. A court openly mocked Karma's Christian faith and sentenced him to 15 years -- three times the sentence that prosecutors had demanded. Last month, after being granted a brief release from prison to get medical attention, Karma spoke about being ridiculed and severely beaten by prison guards for his faith, adding that democracy in his country was "a lie."

Somali Famine Victims Scared to Return Home

Four months after the U.N. declared famine in much of Somalia, several regions are finally beginning a slow recovery -- but some Somali refugees say they won't return home, reports. Somali women living in the town of Dolo on the Ethiopian border are afraid of hardline Islamist militants stalking their home regions and of being unable to feed themselves, and many others who fled to Kenya and Ethiopia share similar concerns. Drought wiped out much of Somalia's crops, and the famine was made more severe by al Shabaab militants impeding the work of aid agencies. Additionally, Kenyan forces have recently moved into southern Somalia to battle the Islamic extremists, which has prevented food supplies from being delivered. The conflicts are expected to keep food production at only 30 percent of Somalia's needs, even as the rainy season approaches. Tens of thousands have died, and U.N. officials say it could be a year before anyone is sure the danger has passed.

Publication date: November 23, 2011