Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 22, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 22, 2006

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

  • Gaza's Christian Arabs Living in Fear
  • Slain Missionary Remembered as Devoted to Poor
  • Indian Christians Protest Punjab Church Attack
  • There is no War against Islam, Bush Says at United Nations

Gaza's Christian Arabs Living in Fear

A previously unknown Palestinian Muslim group has threatened to bring destruction and physical harm to the Gaza Strip's small Christian community if Pope Benedict XVI does not issue a detailed apology for remarks he cited linking Islam and violence. reports the threat came as Muslims throughout world reacted in anger after the pope, lecturing at Regensburg University in Germany last week, cited a 14th century Byzantine emperor who censured Mohammed for commanding his followers to spread Islam by the sword. On at least three different occasions since, most recently on Wednesday morning, the pontiff has expressed his sorrow for the offense Muslims took at his comments. However, Benedict remains adamant that the quoted text does not reflect his own view of Islam, and insists the lecture was meant to emphasize the incompatibility of violence with faith in God. The Palestinian-controlled territories were some of the few areas where subsequent outrage spilled over into actual violence. In the disputed West Bank, a total of six churches -- Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Anglican -- were either firebombed or doused with gasoline and set alight. In Gaza City, gunmen fired on a Greek Orthodox church.

Slain Missionary Remembered as Devoted to Poor

Sister Leonella Sgorbati, who was slain outside a hospital where she worked as a missionary in Somalia's restive capital, was remembered Thursday as a devoted nun who was willing to die to help the starving and sick in Africa, The Christian Post reports. The 65-year-old nun was shot in the back four times Sunday in attack possibly linked to worldwide Muslim anger toward Pope Benedict XVI. Her bodyguard also was killed. "She was ever so generous," Sister Rose, her colleague at the Consolata Sisters of Kenya, said at a funeral that drew hundreds of mourners. "In the end, she gave her whole life. May the sacrifice of her life contribute to the peace of the world and of Somalia in particular." The nun's death, followed a day later by Somalia's first suicide bombing, raised fears of rising extremist violence in Somalia after more than 15 years of anarchy.

Indian Christians Protest Punjab Church Attack

Compass Direct News reports Christians in Amritsar, in India’s Punjab state, will stage a rally on Friday (September 22) to protest last week’s attack on a 200-year-old church in their city. Church authorities suspect that the family of Kartar Rai, a Hindu who formerly worked as caretaker of St. Paul’s Church, carried out the September 13 attack and looting. Rai’s family had also accused the church of forcing them to convert to Christianity. After district officials and political leaders visited the church to condemn the attack, local police arrested several suspects and formed a special investigation team to handle the case. Meanwhile, a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party plans to introduce a draft anti-conversion bill in the next session of the Punjab state assembly, which would require Christian ministers to get permission from district authorities before a conversion could take place.

There is no War against Islam, Bush Says at United Nations

Baptist Press reports President Bush told the people of Iran and other Middle East countries in a Sept. 19 speech at the United Nations that America has not declared war on Islam and wants them to live in peaceful societies. “Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam,” Bush told those who live in the Middle East during a 20-minute address to the U.N. General Assembly. “This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror. We respect Islam, but we will protect our people from those who pervert Islam to sow death and destruction. Our goal is to help you build a more tolerant and hopeful society that honors people of all faiths and promotes the peace.” The president spoke several hours before the General Assembly heard from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose rhetoric and policies have marked him as the most extreme leader of an Islamic state. During his speech Ahdmadinejad criticized America and the United Nations, and he denied Iran was attempting to build nuclear arms, according to The New York Times.