Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 5, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 5, 2008

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

  • 5 Million Afghans at Risk for Severe Food Shortage
  • Police Do Little to Protect Christians in Orissa, India
  • Palin's Former Pastor Comes under Scrutiny
  • Lawsuit for Bible Study in Cali. Court Moves Forward

5 Million Afghans at Risk for Severe Food Shortage

The Christian Post reports that the onslaught of winter combined with failed donor pledges may lead to a "major humanitarian crisis" in Afghanistan, according to international relief agency Oxfam. Less than a fifth of the $404 million needed to feed 5 million at-risk Afghans have been turned in. "Large parts of Afghanistan are facing crisis as a result of the cumulative effect of factors including the harsh winter, high food prices, drought, and increasing and spreading insecurity,” the charity said in a statement Saturday. Oxfam said some areas face the worst food crisis in more than 20 years. "This is a race against time, the international community needs to respond quickly before winter when conditions deteriorate," said Oxfam's head of policy in Kabul, Matt Waldman, according to Agence France-Presse.

Police Do Little to Protect Christians in Orissa, India

Compass Direct News reports that Christian victims of Hindu extremist violence who have fled to the capital of the eastern state of Orissa said state police have been mere spectators as mayhem continued a 12th consecutive day. Attacks on Christians and their property and institutions began in Orissa’s Kandhamal district following the killing of a extremist Hindu leader, Laxmanananda Saraswati, and four of his disciples on Aug. 23. Maoists claimed responsibility for the murders on Sept. 1, though the statement did nothing to slow Hindu extremist violence that Christian leaders say has claimed more than 100 lives. Among those who have fled to Bhubaneswar was Father Prabodha Kumar, a Catholic priest. He was among other fearful sojourners whose mobile phones constantly rang with news of more attacks from their relatives, friends and church members in interior villages of Kandhamal. Fr. Kumar looked deeply troubled after one such phone call yesterday. “My brother has been forced to ‘reconvert’ to Hinduism, as he was told that if he did not do so, his house would be destroyed,” he said.

Palin's Former Pastor Comes under Scrutiny

Religion News Service reports that the Rev. Ed Kalnins has begun to gain attention after The Huffington Post political Web site reported Sept. 2 that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee, may have drawn her religious convictions from Kalnins' Pentecostal church. Kalnins has preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted into heaven; and preached that the Sept. 11 attacks and the war in Iraq were part of a world war over Christianity, The Post reported after reviewing recorded sermons by Kalnins. A statement on the Web site of Kalnins' church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, indicates that Palin attended that church from the time she was a teenager, but adds that she and her family haven't been members of the congregation since 2002. "Whether I influenced Sarah, I don't know," Kalnins said, adding that Palin seeks God on her own. He added, "You can take any kind of a sermon ... without an introduction and without a conclusion and say that this guy is weird."

Lawsuit for Bible Study in Cali. Court Moves Forward

A Federal District Court has ruled that the lawsuit filed on behalf of two court employees will not be dismissed, according to a news release from the Advocates for Faith and Freedom. Mindy Barlow and Dalia Smith, court employees for the California Superior Court, were told in April 2006, that their Bible study group which had been meeting since 2000 could not meet in an empty jury room or courtroom during the lunch hour, even though other groups are allowed to use the court’s facilities. Meanwhile, the court instituted a policy requiring all individuals, groups, or organizations seeking to use court facilities to submit an application. When the Bible study participants submitted their application, the court officials denied their request, stating that approval of the Bible study would violate the separation of church and state. Judge Larry Burns's ruling allows the case to move forward.