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Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 8, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 8, 2008

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

  • Vietnam: Christian Pastor Killed by Security Police
  • Philippines: Failed Peace Pact May Lead to More Violence
  • Iraqis Unite to Restore Minority Representation Law
  • Pittsburgh Bishop Ousted for Abuse Cover-Up

Vietnam: Christian Pastor Killed by Security Police

ASSIST News Service reports that a Christian minister called Mup, 47, was found beaten to death 100 meters from the entrance to his village. Mup was a preacher in his village of Ploi Rong Khong, in the Gia Lai province of Vietnam. According to an advocacy group for the Degar people of Vietnam, to which Mup belonged, Mup had been ordered by the Vietnamese security police three times to come to their headquarters in order to interrogate him about his religious activities. However, the release stated, because Mup had heard numerous reports of brutality by the Vietnamese officials against Degar Christians, he was afraid and didn’t respond to the summons. The Montagnard Foundation notes that Mup was last seen on his way back to the village in the evening, when he was approached by Vietnamese officials. The news release added that the Vietnamese authorities also hate Degars because of their Christian faith, which officials continue to believe aligns the Degars to the U.S. and against their own government.

Philippines: Failed Peace Pact May Lead to More Violence

Compass Direct News reports that militant Islamists in the Philippine island of Mindanao have stepped up their attacks on majority-Christian villages following the failure of a peace agreement that would have enlarged an existing Muslim autonomous region there. With Muslim commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the southern Philippines yesterday saying ongoing support from the international community was necessary to prevent full-scale war breaking out in Mindanao, both Muslim and Christian residents in the disputed territories were fearful of what the future might hold. “The problem is that many people living in these areas don’t want to be part of a Muslim autonomous region,” a source in Mindanao who preferred to remain anonymous told Compass. “The closer you get to these zones, the more nervous people are.”

Iraqis Unite to Restore Minority Representation Law

The New York Times reports that many Iraqi Christians are calling a recent change in election laws "the most significant political development for Christians since American troops overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003." The Iraqi Parliament dropped a previous provision that reserved minority seats on councils, leading Christians and other minorities to feel they are being pushed from their own government. “We have a question mark at this point about why our government is rejecting us,” said Thair al-Sheekh, a priest at Sacred Heart Church in Baghdad, who attended the late afternoon gathering. “I think it is the first time our government said that they don’t want the Christians to stay here... This is what we understand from this decision.” About 75 Christians and their supporters demonstrated Monday for the provision's reinstatement. Many blamed the low turnout on the fear of bombings or other violence.

Pittsburgh Bishop Ousted for Abuse Cover-Up

Religion News Service reports that the Episcopal Church has defrocked a Pennsylvania bishop for failing to disclose his brother's sexual abuse of a minor in the early 1970s. A nine-member panel of bishops, priests and laypeople has ruled that Charles E. Bennison, the bishop of Philadelphia since 1998, should no longer serve as a church clergyman. "Even today (Bennison) has not shown that he comprehends the nature, significance, and effect of his conduct and has not accepted responsibility and repented for his conduct," the panel said in documents released Friday describing the ruling they reached Tuesday. Bennison was found guilty last June of "conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy" for not reporting that his brother, John Bennison, sexually abused a teenage girl in his California parish for three years in the 1970s.