Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 20, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 20, 2006

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

  • Catholic Bishops Form Rules for Ministry to Gays
  • Egypt Jails Christian Convert from Islam
  • Christians Dismissed from Operating Health Center in India
  • Evangelicals Urge U.S. Intervention in Darfur

Catholic Bishops Form Rules for Ministry to Gays

The Christian Post reports the nation's Roman Catholic bishops said Wednesday they are developing new guidelines for ministry to gays, reaffirming church opposition to same-gender marriage and adoption by the couples, while condemning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The draft document encourages parishes to make gays feel welcome and provide them pastoral support, and notes that many "are ardently striving to live their faith within the Catholic community so as not to fall into the lifestyle and values of a `gay subculture.'" But the authors repeatedly state that any such ministries must be led by people who uphold church teaching on sexuality, and assert that Catholic leaders have a right to "deny roles of service" in the church to people who violate that teaching.

Egypt Jails Christian Convert from Islam

A Muslim sheikh jailed in Egypt for 18 months has declared from his prison cell that he is under arrest for “insulting Islam” by becoming a Christian, Compass Direct News reports. Egypt’s secret police transferred Bahaa el-Din Ahmed Hussein el-Akkad, 57, to the Wadi el-Natroun Prison last month. He was told he would remain there indefinitely unless he agreed to work as a government informer against other converts to Christianity. According to the prisoner’s Cairo attorney, Athanasius William, his client remains incarcerated in this desert prison “only because he has chosen a different belief, to be a Christian.” When courts ordered El-Akkad’s release from provisional detention 10 weeks ago, State Security Investigation authorities deliberately ignored the ruling.

Christians Dismissed from Operating Health Center in India

Accusing a Christian-run health center of forcible conversions, the Chhattisgarh state government has ordered the takeover of the facility and fired 17 of its employees, Compass Direct News reports. Chhattisgarh, controlled by the Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party, ordered the takeover of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in Lundra village on October 10. The government program had been assigned in 1995 to the Raigarh-Ambikapur Health Association (RAHA), a Catholic voluntary health service of the Ambikapur diocese in the eastern part of the state. “The BJP government is determined to dislodge RAHA from the ICDS Lundra, and allegations of conversions are an effective means to do so,” said Sister Emilina Xess, child development project officer. “We will approach the Bilaspur High Court for a stay order.”

Evangelicals Urge U.S. Intervention in Darfur

Evangelicals from across the political spectrum are calling on President Bush to stop Sudan's government from committing genocide in the African nation's Darfur province. AgapePress reports Rev. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says U.S. combat troops would not be required -- just U.S. leadership coupled with financial and logistical support to overcome Sudan's rejection of international peacekeepers. Rev. Jim Wallis, who heads the liberal evangelical Sojourners and Call to Renewal, says President Bush should "act on his faith" to protect the people of Darfur from what Wallis calls "pillaging, marauding, raping bands of thugs." Land says this is a case of Christians uniting to oppose Muslim attacks on other Muslims. Joining their appeal are leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals and the World Evangelical Alliance.