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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 28, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 28, 2006

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

  • Dalits Hit with Floods, Relief Bias
  • Grocery Chain Slapped with Religious Discrimination Lawsuit
  • Canceling Opera over Muslim Fears 'Crazy', Says German Official
  • India: Beatings, Threats Continue in Madhya Pradesh

Dalits Hit with Floods, Relief Bias

Dalits living in regions of India recently ravaged by flooding are among the nation’s worst-hit victims and are now facing new challenges in what’s being called a severe case of “relief bias,” ministry officials said. The Dalits, India’s untouchable class, are often among the last to receive emergency assistance and face caste-based discrimination when it comes to aid and relief distribution, said Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan. “Our Gospel workers have already committed themselves to taking the message of God’s love where it has not been known before,” Yohannan said.  “This includes many remote communities where Dalits live. We have an incredible opportunity to express in practical ways Christ’s compassion to the victims of this terrible flooding, regardless of caste.” Hundreds of Dalit villages were inundated in late August and early September by flooding rivers or water released from overflowing dams.

Grocery Chain Slapped with Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

A major supermarket chain based in California is being sued by a former employee who claims he was discriminated against because of his religious beliefs, AgapePress reports. Phillip Way claims he was hired by Randall's Food Markets in May 2004 with the agreement he would not work on Sundays due to his religious beliefs. But Way claims he was denied promotions and employment benefits because of those beliefs, and was eventually fired because he was unable to work on Sundays. The Liberty Legal Institute has filed a lawsuit against Randall's on behalf of Way. Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Legal, says the company's actions violate the law. Randall's, he adds, "should be ashamed for engaging in such blatant and hostile religious discrimination."

Canceling Opera over Muslim Fears 'Crazy', Says German Official

The Christian Post reports Germany's interior minister condemned a leading opera house's decision to cancel a production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" out of concern a scene featuring the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad could provoke a dangerous reaction from Muslims. Kirsten Harms, director of Berlin's Deutsche Oper, said she decided to cancel the production after a warning from state security officials and described her decision as "weighing artistic freedom and freedom of a theater... against the question of security for people's lives." But the move immediately provoked strong reaction across Germany. "That is crazy," said Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, the country's top security official, speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C. "This is unacceptable." The furor is the latest in Europe over religious sensitivities — following cartoons of the prophet first published in a Danish newspaper and recent remarks by Pope Benedict XVI decrying holy war.

India: Beatings, Threats Continue in Madhya Pradesh

Compass Direct News reports Hindu extremists severely beat two pastors on September 24 in Madhya Pradesh, India, before dragging them to a police station and accusing them of “forcing” conversions. Two days earlier, extremists had attacked and injured two evangelists in the same state, later accusing them of “hurting Hindu sentiments.” More than 20 members of two extremist groups barged into a church in Nana Badvani area in Badvani district last Sunday and attacked two pastors, identified only as Sukhlal and Jorsingh. The pastors, who were warned to abandon Christianity or forfeit their lives, were held in police custody until a member of the state’s Minorities Commission intervened. In a separate incident two days earlier, two evangelists in Betul district were beaten and then placed in police custody. The two men remain under arrest, reportedly fearful that in the tense situation, they could be attacked again if released on bail. At least 18 Christians have been accused of attempted forced conversions or hurting Hindu religious sentiments in Madhya Pradesh since the state strengthened its anti-conversion laws on July 25.