Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 10, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 10, 2008

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

  • India: Incidents in Two More States Shake Christians
  • Bad news Overshadows Good for Chinese Christians
  • Tough Economy Hits Christian, Private Schools
  • Pelosi to Talk with Archbishop on Abortion Stance

India: Incidents in Two More States Shake Christians

Compass Direct News reports that India’s Christians suffered major blows in two other states over the weekend. As the Global Council of Indian Christians revised its estimate of deaths from the last two weeks of violence in Orissa state from “more than 100” to 53 today, Christians in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh were shocked when suspected Hindu extremists yesterday burned down the 86-year-old St. Bartholomew Church of North India. Christian leaders said suspected members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) burned down the venerable church after parishioners had elaborately decorated it for its 86th anniversary. In Chhattisgarh state, on Friday (Sept. 5) about 20 Bajrang Dal extremists boarded a train at the Durgh railway station and took four babies no more than 2 years old from two nuns of the Missionaries of Charity and from two women helpers. Accusing the nuns of forced conversion, they turned them over to railway police. Subsequently the Hindu extremists beat a nun and a driver sent to help.

Tough Economy Hits Christian, Private Schools

Associated Press reports that tough economic times correlates with a drop in private school enrollment. "Obviously, it's just tough times" for parents, said principal Sam Postlewaite of Gateway Christian School in South Hampton Roads, Va. Gateway's enrollment will decline around 10 percent this fall. "Either job wages haven't gone up, or the cost of everything else is going up," Postlewaite continued. Other schools have seen double-digit jumps in requests for addiitonal financial aid. The Christian Post indicates that school supply donations for low-income school children have dropped significantly as well. In 2007, donations provided supplies for about 41,000 school children. This year, that number will drop to 30,000 children.

Bad news Overshadows Good for Chinese Christians

Baptist Press reports that Zhang "Bike" Mingxuan, a popular house church leader and chairman of the Federation House Church, and his wife Xie Fenglan were released from Public Security Bureau custody Aug. 29. That good news was overshadowed by the fact that countless other Chinese Christians still are imprisoned, including bookstore owner Shi Weihan who has been described as "unrecognizable" following his poor treatment in detention. The couple had been on forced vacation in the company of 15 government officials since Aug. 6, and have been told they may not return to Beijing until after Aug. 16, when the Paralympics end. Before his capture, Zhang was considered one of the most outspoken evangelists in China, traveling mostly on his bike, handing out literature and Bibles and preaching the Gospel, Voice of the Martyrs said. VoM and China Aid circulated a petition for Zhang's release that garnered 57,000 signatures, delivered to the Chinese Embassy in Washington Sept. 4.

Pelosi to Talk with Archbishop on Abortion Stance

Religion News Service reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accepted her hometown archbishop's invitation to talk about Catholic teachings, but avoided mentioning her recent statements on abortion, which have been condemned by 10 Catholic prelates. "I welcome the opportunity for our personal conversation to go beyond our earlier most cordial exchange about immigration and the needs of the poor to church teaching on other significant matters," Pelosi wrote San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer. A spokesman for Pelosi, D-Calif., said the letter was delivered by hand to Niederauer on Friday (Sept. 5). That same day, Niederauer said Pelosi's recent statements on abortion "are in serious conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church." On "Meet the Press" last month, Pelosi said "doctors of the church" disagreed on when life begins, and said abortion "continues to be an issue of controversy" in the Catholic Church.