Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 17, 2008

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 17, 2008

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

  • Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa Threatens to Spread
  • Ike Hits Churches in Louisiana, Texas
  • Pakistan: Partial Victory Seen in Case of Kidnapped Girls
  • World Leaders Cautious of Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Deal

Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa Threatens to Spread

Thousands of Christians in India's Orissa state have been targeted over the last month, and attacks on Christians elsewhere in the country appear to be strengthening, according to the Christian Post. Barnabus Fund, a persecution watchdog, reports that Hindu extremists may be spreading their anti-Christian sentiments. In the northern state of Uttarakhand, Hindu activists reportedly attacked a group of Indian missionaries in early August, and in September, activists abducted four young children who were being taken to a Christian orphanage and mugged two staff members. A church in central India was burned to the groun on Sept. 7. "India is in a scary situation," said Gospel for Asia president K.P. Yohannan, in a statement Monday. "While violence continues in Orissa, on India's east coast, anti-Christian extremists have unleashed another wave of attacks on Christians in Karnataka, a state on India's west coast... At the same time, churches are under attack in Jharkhand and other states, and Muslim extremists have set off bombs in Delhi.”

Ike Hits Churches in Louisiana, Texas

Baptist Press reports that churches in southern Louisiana that weathered Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita and three years later Gustav may have been done in by Ike's onslaught Sept. 13. Joe Arnold, director of missions in Bayou Baptist Association southwest of New Orleans, said 5,000 more homes in the region were flooded by Ike than Rita in 2005. This means 15,000 homes rather than 10,000 homes. "Longtime pastors tell me they've never seen the water this high," Arnold said. "I've got 11 churches that were strongly impacted. 'No church; no offering; no salary.' That's an abbreviated version of my report." First Baptist Church in Houma was in the final stages of volunteer construction on its new day school. It was an eight-building compound with a central courtyard.

Pakistan: Partial Victory Seen in Case of Kidnapped Girls

Compass Direct News reports that Christian human rights lawyers in Pakistan saw a partial legal victory in a judge’s ruling last week that one of two kidnapped girls be returned to her Christian parents. The judge further ruled that her sister be free to choose whether to go with the Muslim man who allegedly forced her to convert and marry him. Justice Malik Saeed Ejaz ruled on Tuesday (Sept. 9) that 10-year-old Aneela Masih be returned to her parents – an unprecedented legal victory for Christian parents of a girl who supposedly converted to Islam, according to one lawyer – while leaving her sister, 13-year-old Saba Masih, free to choose whether to go with Amjad Ali, a Muslim man who married her after the June 26 kidnapping. Saba Masih, whose birth certificate indicates that she is now 13 but who testified that she is 17, said she did not want to return to her parents and tried to keep her little sister from returning to them. Their Muslim captors have repeatedly threatened the two girls that their parents would harm them if they returned.

World Leaders Cautious of Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Deal

The Christian Post reports that arch rivals President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, along with Arthur Mutambara of a faction that broke away from Tsvangirai’s party agreed on Monday to share government power, theoretically resolving the aftermath of an earlier presidential election this summer. World leaders viewed that election as a sham, and are only cautiously optimistic now. The United States said it was waiting to see the details of the deal, while the European Union said it wants to see democratic improvements before lifting sanctions, according to Agence France-Presse. Under Mugabe's rule famine, inflation and violence jumped, with an addition spike pre- and post-election. Multiple church leaders spoke out against the humanitarian crisis during the election, saying that the violence could turn to wide-scale genocide.