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Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 17, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 17, 2006

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

  • Persecuted Christians Asking for Prayer, Congressional Action
  • ELCA Head: Challenging Time to Be a Lutheran Christian
  • Protestant Leader Assassinated In Central Sulawesi, Indonesia
  • Christian Democrats Highlight Leftward Shift among Religious Whites

Persecuted Christians Asking for Prayer, Congressional Action

An AgapePress report says that according to Jim Jacobson, president of Christian Freedom International, as tough as it sometimes seems to be a Christian in America, it can be a lot tougher outside the United States. And in some parts of the world, he says, being a believer is not only not getting any easier, it is becoming increasingly dangerous. "We're actually seeing a major increase in the persecution of Christians, especially in Islamic-dominated nations at this time," Jacobsen notes. "Christians in these nations are seen as surrogates of the West; and so, if these radicals can't take their hatred out directly at America, then the next best thing is that they're targeting minority Christians in their country." The CFI spokesman says these brothers and sisters in Christ are asking for American believers' prayers and for Congressional pressure on the governments that condone religious persecution.

ELCA Head: Challenging Time to Be a Lutheran Christian

The Christian Post reports that predominantly white Evangelical Lutherans are getting clearer about their identity in an increasingly pluralistic society. The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said the steadily declining numbers in mainline Protestat denominations are not something he is proud of, but he also resists the church becoming generic for the sake of survival. "People want continuity and change," Hanson said, but not at the expense of each other. The ELCA is 97 percent white, and dropped 1.6 percent in membership to 4.85 million in 2005. They are also an aging congregation, with Hanson saying that Evangelical Lutherans are 10 years older than the average age of the U.S. population. "I think Lutherans got lazy," he said, including losing their "evangelicals flavor." Hanson is worried the church will make mistakes for the future based on the statistics of today, but he also expressed optimism: "It's a challenging time to be a Lutheran Christian in the United States and in the world. [The challenges and questions being raised in the church] humble us but don't paralyze us."

Protestant Leader Assassinated In Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

According to what was a breaking report by ASSIST News Service, around 9 am Monday, October 16, the acting head of the Protestant Church in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, was assassinated. He was shot in the head on a street in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia – the same region where three Catholic Christians were recently executed. According to a message from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the Reverend Irianto Kongkoli (40) was shopping with his wife when the gunman shot him in the back of his head and then fled on a motorcycle. He was rushed to the local hospital but the doctors were unable to save his life. “The assassination comes weeks after the execution of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus Da Silva and Marinus Riwa who were accused of masterminding the sectarian violence in Central Sulawesi and for leading a violent attack against an Islamic school in 2000,” said the CSW message. According to Asianews, H. B. Paliudju, the governor of Central Sulawesi, is claiming the incident was not connected to the sectarian violence but rather to Rev. Kongkoli’s objection to the executions.

Christian Democrats Highlight Leftward Shift among Religious Whites

According to AgapePress, a Christian Democratic group hopes to capitalize on what one poll finds is a shift among some white evangelicals away from the Republican Party. FaithfulDemocrats.com says it will stress awareness of the party's outreach to evangelical Christians and people of other faiths. Executive director Jesse Lava says Democrats were reluctant in the past to be "too loud and proud" of any particular faith. Lava says his party will play up the findings of an October 6-8 Gallup Poll, which found that religious whites are equally as likely to say they will vote Democratic as Republican this fall. Lava says the shift is due to what he calls the "hypocrisy of Republican values talk" and "the ethics scandal, the war scandals, and now a sex scandal." FaithfulDemocrats.com describes itself as "an online community of Christian Democrats, religious leaders, political leaders, writers, and regular Americans who are committed to the Gospel and the common good."