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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 29, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 29, 2009

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

  • Relief Groups Respond Quickly to Philippines' 'Katrina'
  • One in Three Americans Giving Less to Charity
  • India: Pastor Seriously Wounded by Suspected Extremists
  • Court Dismisses Judgment against Anti-Gay Protestors

Relief Groups Respond Quickly to Philippines' 'Katrina'

The Christian Post reports that aid agencies have jumped into action after the capital city of the Philippines was swamped by a tropical storm. Typhoon Ketsana killed at least 140 people and forced 100,000 to evacuate Manila. "Thousands of people have lost all they owned - their food, their clothing, bedding, school items, and kitchen equipment. But their immediate needs are for food and water," reported World Vision Philippines Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Director Boy Bersales. "Many have gone without either for hours and hours and the children are especially vulnerable having been trapped in flooded conditions for several days. The city is only now waking up to the massive extent of the devastation." The storm's impact has been compared to America's Hurricane Katrina.

One in Three Americans Giving Less to Charity

Christian Newswire reports that one-third of U.S. adults say the current economic climate has resulted in their decreased giving to charities, according to a new survey released by World Vision. The international Christian relief and development organization has seen a modest increase in sponsorships this year (3 percent), but private cash donations are down 3 percent from 2008. The survey marks a shift from the charitable mood Americans were in around Christmas of 2008. At that time, seven out of 10 Americans said they would probably spend less on holiday shopping, but half said they were more inclined to give or receive a charitable gift for the holidays. Although giving is slightly down, most polled say faith-based organizations (67%) and non-profit foundations (63%) should bear responsibility for helping the world's poor.

India: Pastor Seriously Wounded by Suspected Extremists

Compass Direct News reports that suspected Hindu extremists beat a pastor on his way home from church on Sept. 20, leaving his unconscious and profusely bleeding on a village road. Pastor Vanamali Parishudham, 35, says the three men jumped him from behind and struck him in the head with sharp-edged metal rods. Nirmala Desai, deputy nursing superintendent at the Kamineni Institute of Medical Sciences in Narketpalli village, told Compass that Pastor Parishudham sustained "a lot of blood loss" from the head injury. She said someone from the village called an emergency number for an ambulance. The pastor says he could not identify the men, who are suspected members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Court Dismisses Judgment against Anti-Gay Protestors

Religion News Service reports that members of Westboro Baptist Church, the anti-gay church that protests military funerals, will not have to pay a $5 million judgment against them. The father of a Marine who was killed in Iraq in 2006 sued Westboro pastor Fred Phelps and members of his Topeka, Kan., church after they protested his son's funeral with signs that said "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates America." Judge Robert B. King of the 4th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., writing in the majority opinion, said the signs were "utterly distasteful" but addressed "matters of public concern." Rejecting the privacy arguments of Albert Snyder of York, Pa., King upheld the church's free speech rights. "Notwithstanding the distasteful and repugnant nature of the words being challenged in these proceedings, we are constrained to conclude that the defendants' signs and (statements on the church's Web site) are constitutionally protected," King said.