Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 14, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 14, 2009

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

  • Authorities in Laos Jail, Threaten to Kill Christians
  • Many Women Targeted by Faith Leaders, Survey Says
  • Operation Mobilisation Sends Out 250 Missionaries
  • Adviser Has Low Expectations for White House Faith-Based Office

Authorities in Laos Jail, Threaten to Kill Christians

Compass Direct News reports that authorities in Laos last week jailed a church leader for embracing Christianity. The leaders in Liansai village, Savannakhet Province also threatened to expel him unless he renounces his faith - and kill him if his arrest is made public, according to a human rights organization. Local officials on Sept. 3 arrested Thao Oun, an elder at Boukham Church. The chief of police of Saybouthong sub-district, Thao Somphet, charged him with bringing destruction to the Lao nation and government. He also told Oun that his harsh treatment would end "only after the death of all believers in Boukham Church" for believing in a "foreign religion." Lao officials have also denied schooling to 10 children of Christians and cut off access to water at village wells.

Many Women Targeted by Faith Leaders, Survey Says

Washington Post reports that a new survey reveals new numbers about the frequency of sexual misconduct among religious leaders. One in every 33 women who regularly attend worship services has been targeted by a religious leader with sexual advances, according to the survey. "It certainly is prevalent, and clearly the problem is more than simply a few charismatic leaders preying on vulnerable followers," said Diana Garland, dean of Baylor's School of Social Work, who co-authored the study. Denominations have updated policies regarding sexual relations between adult congregants and clergy members in recent years, and a growing number of denominations have taken action against such misconduct. Many churches now offer prevention training and perform background checks on those in ministry positions.

Operation Mobilisation Sends Out 250 Missionaries

ASSIST News Service reports that more than 250 participants were sent into the mission field after Operation Mobilisation's (OM) Global Orientation conference at the end of August. The group represented nations from around the world. Among the 250 at the GO conference were 35 Christians from the UK, heading to join OM's outreach teams in locations as diverse as East Europe, Central Asia and the Near East. The group also included a family preparing to serve in France. Several of those from the UK had heard about OM through the recent visit of Logos Hope to ports in Britain and Northern Ireland and after the conference were flying out to the Caribbean to join the ship. Founded by George Verwer over 50 years ago, presently there are 5,400 OM workers serving in 110 countries and on board two ocean-going vessels.

Adviser Has Low Expectations for White House Faith-Based Office

Religion News Service reports that former Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page said he doesn't expect much to result from White House's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships  advisers work. "I believe that the policy recommendations that will come forth will be relatively innocuous, good, helpful," said Page, a member of the panel, on Thursday (Sept. 10) at the annual meeting of the Religion Newswriters Association. He expects results to be not much more than "low-hanging fruit." "There will be good things, but nothing of great substance." While Page has publicly disagreed with Obama on some issues, notably abortion, he nonetheless praised the president for his "responsible fatherhood" and poverty initiatives, as well as his commitment not to fund abortion under his proposed health care reforms.