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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 1, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 1, 2009

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

  • Christians in India Falsely Accused in Clan-Fight Murder
  • Ukraine Splinter Church Seeks Independence
  • Outspoken Catholic Bishop Steps Down after Stormy Tenure 
  • Hunger and Disease Still Stalk Kenya, Ethiopia

Christians in India Falsely Accused in Clan-Fight Murder

Compass Direct News reports that Hindus opposed to a pastor in a village in Madhya Pradesh, India have falsely charged him and three other Christians in the murder of a young man. Pastor Kamlesh Tahed, 32, of Mehendi Kheda village, Jhabua district, told Compass he was not even in the village the day 22-year-old Roop Singh Baria was killed in a clan fight. Pastor Tahed, who spent 20 days in jail on false charges of "forcible conversion" in 2001 before a court declared him innocent, is now in hiding after the Aug. 8 incident. Three other Christians from his clan are in police custody, also charged in the murder of Baria, of nearby Negadia village, even though they were not present at the site of the melee either. Pastor Bahadur Baria of the same village's opposing clan told Compass that in all previous conflicts - personal, religious or social - sympathizers of Hindu extremists falsely accuse area Christians as well as bait them into conflicts.

Ukraine Splinter Church Seeks Independence

The Associated Press reports that one Orthodox church group in Ukraine is calling for independence from Moscow more urgently than ever. Spokesman Yevhen Zapletnyuk said the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church has asked the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church to recognize them, hoping to break another tie with the former Soviet Union. "We have extended a hand," Zapletnyuk told The Associated Press. "We believe this is the way to salvation." The group sent an official request to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople last week, saying the church is "ready and strives" for a separate jurisdiction from Moscow. The group includes about 1,2000 parishes and 700 priests. Its numbers reflect its growing popularity among Ukrainians. Moscow's leader, Patriarch Kirill, criticized churches seeking independence on his last visit to Ukraine.

Outspoken Catholic Bishop Steps Down after Stormy Tenure  

Religion News Service reports that a Pennsylvania Catholic bishop whose public scoldings of politicians -- including Vice President Joe Biden -- created a stir nationwide resigned on Monday (Aug. 31). Bishop Joseph Martino was appointed in 2003 to head the Diocese of Scranton, a heavily Catholic corner of northeastern Pennsylvania. His relatively brief tenure was marked by battles with local parishes, a teachers union, college administrators and a number of politicians, particularly over abortion rights. "For some time now there has not been a clear consensus among clergy or lay people regarding my leadership style," Martino said Monday at a press conference. He also cited stress and "crippling" fatigue as reasons for his departure.The Vatican appointed Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, as temporary head of the Scranton diocese, which encompasses about 350,000 Catholics in 11 counties.

Hunger and Disease Still Stalk Kenya, Ethiopia

Mission News Network reports the aid groups in Kenya and Ethiopia are optimistic that the area's cholera outbreaks have been stemmed, but say that could change quickly. Prolongued drought has exacerbated Kenya's poor harvests and lack of clean water, forcing many to emigrate to Ethiopia in search of pasture for livestock. Those that remain are often dependent on health clinics struggling with the amount of need. The Food for the Hungry Emergency Response Units (ERU), which have trained many vulnerable groups in treatment and preventation of cholera, now watch to see if their efforts help. "The epidemic has gone away, and I'm encouraged that these communities are now prepared in the future for further epidemics that could come through," said ERU's Pete Howard. "These communities understand how to respond better."