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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 12, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 12, 2006

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

  • Jewish Leaders May Lift Ban on Homosexual Rabbis
  • Attacks against Christians Rise in Karnataka, India
  • Angry Mob Attacks Church in Aceh, Indonesia
  • WorldServe Launches the Living Water Challenge

Jewish Leaders May Lift Ban on Homosexual Rabbis

AgapePress reports that a leader of the conservative branch of Judaism is traveling the United States to prepare synagogues for a potentially divisive change: allowing the ordination of openly homosexual rabbis. Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, says a committee of scholars who interpret Jewish law will likely loosen the current prohibition when they vote in December. But he expects the scholars to also let synagogues that believe Jewish law condemns same-sex relationships hire only heterosexual rabbis. In recent years, many Conservative Jews have joined the more liberal Reform stream, which has surpassed the Conservative branch as the largest in America. The Reform movement ordains homosexuals. For Conservative Jews seeking more rigorous observance, the Orthodox branch has become a popular choice. The Orthodox strictly adhere to Jewish law, prohibiting women and homosexuals from becoming rabbis.

Attacks against Christians Rise in Karnataka, India

Two pastors in Karnataka state were arrested on September 3 after a mob of about 150 people allegedly led by extremists of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh stormed a house church meeting, Compass Direct News reports. Santosh George and Madhu Mohan both worked with Marthoma Mission, an arm of the Marthoma Church. The mob demanded that the pastors bring out all the literature, including Bibles, kept in the house – which they confiscated as “evidence” that the pastors were forcibly converting Hindus in surrounding villages. They also forced the pastors and three underage children in the church to kneel down and took a photo of them, which later appeared in a local daily. And on August 15, a police inspector and a large crowd of Hindu extremists disrupted a prayer meeting Kolar district. “Inspector Shiva Kumar of the Malur police station stormed the house of David Narayanaswamy, where the prayer meeting was going on, along with extremists,” Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians reported. “They dragged guest speaker Rev. Peter Muniappa, Narayanaswamy and a few others outside and punched them in the face.”

Angry Mob Attacks Church in Aceh, Indonesia

Compass Direct News reports a pastor and his wife living in Aceh province, Indonesia, have gone into hiding after a Muslim mob set fire to a church building on September 1. Several weeks ago, Pastor Luther Saragih of an Indonesia Evangelical Mission Church congregation distributed letters to several villages in Aceh Singkil inviting Christians to a revival service. A Muslim resident somehow received a copy of the letter and edited it, making it appear that Muslims were invited to the service. More than 500 Christians arrived for the service, along with a large crowd of irate Muslims. Police detained Saragih and scolded him for organizing the service, but another pastor was able to deliver a brief sermon before the event was cut short. Later that night, a mob of more than 100 men poured gasoline over the building and set fire to it; they also attempted to burn a second building used as a church kindergarten and came looking for Saragih and his pregnant wife at their nearby house. The couple escaped to the jungle.

WorldServe Launches the Living Water Challenge

In response to the global water crisis, faith-based economic development organization WorldServe International is launching the Living Water Challenge to forge partnerships with churches throughout the United States. Each congregation taking part in the Living Water Challenge will sponsor a community water well in a rural African village. WorldServe water projects also include evangelism and church planting in partnership with African churches. The global water crisis leaves 1.1 billion people without access to clean water and basic sanitation, making water the number one killer in the world today. More people die from preventable, water-related diseases or lack of water than any other cause. In fact, 80 percent of all sickness is attributed to unsafe water. Lack of access means that women and children in sub-Saharan Africa walk up to 8 miles each day in search of water for their families. WorldServe’s unique strategy couples high-capacity water well drilling along with community development initiatives.