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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 15, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 15, 2008

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

  • Pope Visits France Though Churches Are Depopulated
  • Water Missions Aids Storm Victims in Haiti
  • Calif. Episcopal Bishops Oppose Gay Marriage Ban
  • Christians Attacked in Karnataka, India


Pope Visits France Though Churches Are Depopulated

AFP reports that Pope Benedict XVI arrived in France on Friday to be greeted by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the head of a once-Catholic nation. The country, estimated to be 80 percent Catholic in the early 1990s, is increasing full of Muslims and seculars, as people no longer identify with its teachings. Now, though 51 percent still describe themselves as Catholic, only 10 percent attend mass regularly, according to a survey in Le Monde des Religions magazine. "Statistically, the church is in the red," commented Michel Kubler, the editor in chief for religious issues for the Catholic newspaper La Croix. "All the indicators are down, from church attendance to baptisms to the number of priests." Church weddings are down, as are the number of priests within the country. However, Kubler says those who remain in the church are different than those who used to populate the pews. "French Catholics are a lot less passive. There are signs of a significant renewal," he said.

Water Missions Aids Storm Victims in Haiti

ASSIST News Service Reports that Water Missions International (WMI) is responding with water purification systems in Haiti after four major storms ripped through the impoverished country in less than four weeks. A media release explains that four of the Living Water(TM) Treatment Systems are currently stationed in Haiti and will provide the vital resource of safe, clean water to disaster victims immediately upon clearance from customs. "WMI staff and volunteers are readying five more water systems for deployment to Haiti. Together, these nine systems are... enough to provide more than 45,000 people with a sufficient daily supply of drinking water." Pierre Prinvil, WMI's Haitian Country Director, is on the ground in the disaster zone. "I've never seen destruction and devastation quite like this. In my hometown alone [Cabaret, Haiti], more than 60 people have died," says Prinvil. "The people of Haiti are suffering and need help. Safe water is the most urgent need. We must act quickly."

Calif. Episcopal Bishops Oppose Gay Marriage Ban

Religion News Service reports that Episcopal bishops from all six California dioceses are urging voters to defeat a state referendum that would outlaw gay marriage this November. "We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage," nine bishops said in a joint statement Wednesday (Sept. 10). "Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect ... are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike." Californians will vote Nov. 4 on Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to reserve marriage for heterosexual couples. In May, the state supreme court overturned a voter-approved ban on gay marriage. Other religious groups, including Catholics, evangelicals, Hindus and Muslims, are advocating for the referendum.

Christians Attacked in Karnataka, India

Compass Direct News reports that as tensions continued in the eastern state of Orissa, Hindu nationalist groups intensified attacks on churches and Christian institutions in the southern state of Karnataka. Hindu extremists leveled false charges of “forcible” conversions against Christian workers as the Karnataka government, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, prepared to close down churches. Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians told Compass that more than 200 people attacked the Mission Action Prayer Fellowship church in Bada village, Davangere district on September 7, accusing the Christians of “forcible” conversions. George said the commissioner of Davangere City had issued notices to demolish three churches – Eternal Life Church, Divine Healing Ministry church and Jesus Prayer Hall – in the city, claiming that their buildings were illegal.