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Religion Today Summaries - September 6, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 6, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Christians Live in Cloud of Fear on Zanzibar
  • Ireland Ramps Up Battle with Vatican over Child Abuse
  • Famine Spreads to Another Region of Somalia
  • Clergy Plan Ground-Zero Public Prayer Service for September 10


Christians Live in Cloud of Fear on Zanzibar

According to a report from Compass Direct News, on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, Christians live in a climate of fear. It’s a place where a young man flees the island to escape death threats from his Muslim family, and a Christian who accidentally burned pages of the Quran opts for jail by entering a guilty plea rather than face certain death from a furious mob. Yusuf Abdalla, 23, fled to Moshi, mainland Tanzania, after his family threatened to kill him in June. Having converted to Christianity in October 2010 after hearing the gospel on the radio, he was enrolled at a vocational school in Zanzibar city to learn tailoring when his family found out in March that he had left Islam. The beating he then received from family members left him with injuries to his head, hand and torso, as well as a serious mouth wound and substantial loss of blood. “The family then took back the tailoring machine which they had bought him,” his pastor said. “They also vowed not to support his training.” The church has since arranged for his escape to Moshi. And in Pemba, it has become extremely risky for churches to have their documents typed or printed in cybercafés, as shop personnel are saving copies that they take to Muslim sheikhs in order to disclose Christian activities. Their findings are announced in mosques, pastors said.

Ireland Ramps Up Battle with Vatican over Child Abuse

CNN reports that Ireland stepped up its battle with the Roman Catholic Church over child abuse Sunday. Justice Minister Alan Shatter vowed to pass a law requiring priests to report suspicions of child abuse, even if they learn about them in confession. Information learned in confession has always been treated confidentially, but if such a law is passed, priests could be prosecuted for failing to tell the police about crimes disclosed in the confession box. Shatter believes the culture of private confession "has led sexual predators into believing that they have impunity and facilitated pedophiles preying on children and destroying their lives." Meanwhile, the Vatican recently rejected Irish accusations that Church leaders sought to cover up sexual abuse of children by priests in Ireland. The rift opening between the Vatican and Ireland is being called "unprecedented."

Famine Spreads to Another Region of Somalia

The United Nations has issued another warning about the famine across the Horn of Africa saying it's only set to worsen, Mission Network News reports. Food for the Hungry's Alex Muara describes the situation: "There's a huge exodus from Somalia into Kenya. The main reason for people moving is basically three things: the war, drought or famine. The emotional and physical strain on families is evident. Some people we talked with have walked for 11 days. When they come into Kenya, they are neither sojourners nor have they reached home. When they enter the camps, they take on a refugee status. The psychological toll of the instability of life is evident in the refugees' eyes." The 1,400 refugees per day are at extreme risk for starvation and present another opportunity to share the love of Christ and meet the practical needs of survival, Muara said.

Clergy Plan Ground Zero Public Prayer Service for September 10

With clergy and first-responders not invited to the official 10-year memorial of 9/11, a group that feels it is imperative to have a public prayer witness at Ground Zero has initiated a public prayer service which will meet in front of St. Paul's Chapel on Broadway, at 10:00 a.m. on September 10, and walk over to Ground Zero. According to a Christian Newswire release, the organizers of the prayer service are deeply troubled that Mayor Bloomberg has banned all prayer, public expressions of faith and clergy at the Sunday 9/11 Memorial Service. In correspondence to New York City Police Commissioner Kelly Attorney Brian Chavez-Ochoa states: "We are aware of Mayor Bloomberg's edict that no public prayer will be offered and furthermore, that no clergy will be able to speak at the city's planned event for September 11, 2011 at Ground Zero. Therefore, we are seeking a permit and/or consent to hold a prayer vigil the day before the city's event. I am asking for your intercession in facilitating and expediting the process."