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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 26, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 26, 2008

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

  • Laos: Village to Expel 55 Christians
  • Pittsburgh Bishop's Ouster May Be Illegal
  • Calif.'s Faithful Push for Gay 'Marriage' Ban
  • Gideons to Commemorate First Bibles' Distribution

Laos: Village to Expel 55 Christians

Compass Direct News reports that the chief of Boukham village in Savannakhet province, Laos, on Sept. 19 called a special community meeting to resolve the “problem” of eight resident Christian families who have refused to give up their faith. The meeting concluded with plans to expel all 55 Christians from the village. Although all adult members of a village are usually invited to such meetings, on this occasion the Christians were deliberately excluded, according to rights group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF). Pastor Sompong Supatto, 32, and two other believers from the village, Boot Chanthaleuxay, 18, and Khamvan Chanthaleuxay, also 18, remain in detention in the nearby Ad-Sapangthong district police detention cell. HRWLRF earlier reported that police have held the men in handcuffs and wooden foot stocks since their arrest on Aug. 3, causing numbness and infection in their legs and feet due to lack of blood circulation. Authorities have said they will release the three only if they renounce their faith.

Pittsburgh Bishop's Ouster May Be Illegal

OneNewsNow reports that some Episcopal bishops are calling into question the legality of ousting of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, who was officially removed from ordained ministry by the House of Bishops last week. Bishop David Bena, with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), says the action against Duncan may have been illegal. "Before a bishop can be deposed or...you might say 'defrocked,' he has to be inhibited for a period of six months or thereabouts," Bena explains. Regardless of legal issues, Bena believes the decision will not inhibit Duncan's ministry. "He continues to be a bishop in good standing in the Anglican Communion," he adds. "The Anglican Communion is made up of about 77 million members, of which the Episcopal Church has about a million plus, so it's a very small entity within the Anglican Communion."

Calif.'s Faithful Push for Gay 'Marriage' Ban

According to theAssociated Press, hundreds of church leaders throughout California are urging their congregations to fast and pray in preparation for Proposition 8 against gay marriage. The loose organization of churches expects to culminate three days before the election with as many as 100,000 at San Diego Charger's stadium, as congregants of several faiths unite behind the propostion. The AP reports that churches have been the driving force behind the measure, via fundraising, literature distribution, recruiting volunteers, etc. Jim Garlow, the pastor of the evangelical Skyline Church in San Diego County, said he expects up to 100 young adults to spend five-plus weeks on his campus, subsisting on soup, juice and the promise of societal salvation. "This is not political to us. We see it as very spiritual," he said.

Gideons to Commemorate First Bibles' Distribution

The Christian Post reports that Gideons International, the ministry behind placing Bibles in hotel rooms and in the hand sof those around the world, will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary. To date, the organization has placed 1.3 billion Bibles in more than 180 countries. The first Bible was placed in Superior Hotel in 1908, starting "The Bible Project" that today places palm-sized Scriptures in hotels, hospitals, prisons, military bases, schools and colleges. The ministry has faced increasing litigation in recent years, but individual members have repeatedly defended their actions based on the First Amendment before court.