Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 1, 2008

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 1, 2008

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

  • India: Christian Couple Killed in Orissa
  • Iraqi Christians: Politicians Pushing Us to Leave
  • World Vision Launches Malaria Initiative
  • Watchdog Group Files IRS Complaint over 'Pulpit Sunday'

India: Christian Couple Killed in Orissa

Compass Direct News reports that a Christian couple was found murdered, a woman killed, numerous houses and churches burned and low-intensity bombs exploded at relief camps in the past week in Orissa state’s Kandhamal district, where Hindu extremist violence began more than a month ago. According to The Times of India newspaper, the Christian couple was killed last Thursday (Sept. 25). This morning attacks by unidentified armed groups in the villages of Rudangia, Telingia and Gadaguda in Kandhamal resulted in more than 100 houses burned and the death of Ramani Nayak of Rudangia village, reported The Hindu. Her religious affiliation was not known at press time. Eight people were seriously injured in the attacks, according to reports, and about 20 people received minor injuries. Bomb blasts Monday rocked three Kandhamal relief camps in the Nuagaon area, Mahasinghi village and Baliguda town, reported the Press Trust of India (PTI).

Iraqi Christians: Politicians Pushing Us to Leave

The Christian Post reports that many Iraqi Christians see the country's new election laws as a way to deny them a voice, as the laws eliminates seats set aside for minorities on provincial councils. "I think that some political groups are pushing the remaining Christians to leave Iraq," worshipper Afram Razzaq-Allah said after services at a Catholic church in Baghdad. "They want us to feel that we are no longer Iraqis." Lawmakers, however, said the census data to necessitate a set aside quota does not exist. Many worry that the move will further exacerbate sectarian violence in the mainly Muslim country, as attacks against Christians appear to be increasing again. U. S. commanders maintain extremist groups are attempting to use sectarian violence to undermine the current Iraqi government.

World Vision Launches Malaria Initiative

ASSIST News Service reports that aid organization World Vision is launching a bold initiative to reduce infant morality by the worldwide elimination of malaria. WV President Richard Stearns said, “We have launched this initiative t significantly increase private funding for anti-malaria programs; advocate for increased government commitments, including at least $1 billion per year from the U.S. government to combat malaria; develop corporate partnerships to leverage resources like bed nets and medication and to initially contribute to a 50 percent reduction in the number of malaria deaths by 2015 in countries where World Vision operates." Malaria was essentially eradicated from the U.S. by 1951, and remains an inexpensively preventable and treatable disease in other parts of the world. Many, however, lack access to even simple solutions, leading World Vision to scale up its malaria prevention and treatment efforts.

Watchdog Group Files IRS Complaint over 'Pulpit Sunday'

Religion News Service reports that a Washington-based watchdog group has filed six complaints with the Internal Revenue Service after dozens of clergy participated in a challenge to rules that ban politicking from the pulpit.     At least 31 pastors took part in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" (Sept. 28), according to the initiative's organizers at the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian law firm based in Arizona. "These pastors flagrantly violated the law and now must deal with the consequences," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Gary McCaleb, senior counsel with ADF, said: "It's not a matter of separation of church and state when you've got the IRS in the pew. That's oppression of free speech." The ADF plans a court challenge to the IRS rules against partisan politicking by tax exempt organizations.