Demolition of Christian Homes Threatened

Christian families in Lahore, Pakistan, have been ordered by the city's development authority to vacate their homes so the houses could be demolished for a highway project. None of the 48 families had complied with the order because the government was not offering any compensation for the destruction of their homes.

The Lahore Development Authority issued the notice Oct. 28 and gave the occupants three days to obey, according to the human rights organization International Christian Concern ( Their neighborhood in Quid-e-Azam was to be demolished to make way for a widening of the main road. Eminent domain law in Pakistan requires the government to offer families compensation for the loss of their homes.

"We will never allow the administration to demolish our houses, since the local government does not treat us as equal citizens, and we are not provided the basic civic facilities as well," Mansha Bhagat, chairman of Pakistan Christian Unity, told ICC. "Our forefathers sacrificed for us and faced hundreds of hardships to build this colony and now it is impossible for us to leave this place for the dacoits' [notorious criminals]."

Bhagat urged the authorities to allot alternative plots with complete civic facilities and compensation to the affected families.

Baptist Press

Scientists Rebuild Trachea with Adult Stem Cells

Bristol University (U.K.) has reported that the world's first tissue-engineered trachea (windpipe) has been created using a patient's own stem cells. This tissue-engineered airway has all the "mechanical properties" that permit normal breathing, saving the life of the patient, a 30 year-old mother of two who suffered a collapsed airway following a severe case of tuberculosis.

Doctors considered removing the woman's lung, but were concerned by the high risk of complications and high mortality rate with such a procedure. Instead, stem cells were obtained from the woman's own bone marrow, grown into a large population and matured into cartilage cells. These were then "seeded" with tracheal cells. This procedure created a graft that was used to replace the patient's left main bronchus.

Professor Macchiarini, lead author on the paper, said, "We are terribly excited by these results. Just four days after transplantation the graft was almost indistinguishable from adjacent normal bronchi. After one month, a biopsy elicited local bleeding, indicating that the blood vessels had already grown back successfully."

In addition, the university said, the new trachea is free from the risks of immune system rejection seen with conventional transplanted organs.

Dr. Anthony Hollander said, "This successful treatment manifestly demonstrates the potential of adult stem cells to save lives"


In Mosul, Questions Linger for Christians

ASSIST News Service reports that a month after thousands of Christians fled the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in terror, many of the refugees have returned home, but church leaders say that some fear a new wave of sectarian violence.

Although insurgents have lost ground in the face of a large-scale offensive by U.S. and Iraqi security forces, the small Christian community in Mosul is divided between those who believe they still have a place in Iraq and those who fear their days there may be numbered as provincial elections approach.

Many returning Christians are keeping a low profile." We normally have about 200 to 300 people attend mass," Rev. Peter Gethea, a priest at the Seda al-Bashara Assyrian Catholic Church in Mosul, told the Chicago Tribune. "Last Sunday we only had about 20 people. People are still scared."

Religion Today Summaries

Persecution of Christians Persists in Parts of Mexico

Compass Direct News reports that as the number of evangelical Christians in southern Mexico has grown, hostilities from "traditionalist Catholics" have kept pace, according to published reports.

Especially in indigenous communities in southern Mexico, the prevailing attitude is that only traditionalist Catholics, who blend native rituals with Roman Catholicism, have rights to religious practice, according to news reports.

In Oaxaca state, four Christians were jailed on Nov. 16 for refusing to participate in a traditionalist Catholic festival and for not paying the high quotas they were assigned to help cover its costs, according to La Voz news agency. Their neighbors, now fewer than the town's 180 Christian evangelicals, have been trying to force them to practice what the evangelicals regard as idolatrous adoration of saints and other rituals contrary to their faith.

Religion Today Summaries

Nigeria: Six Pastors Killed, 40 Churches Razed

Compass Direct News reports that he murderous rioting sparked by Muslim attacks on Christians and their property on Nov. 28-29 left six pastors dead, at least 500 other people killed and 40 churches destroyed, according to church leaders. More than 25,000 persons have been displaced in the two days of violence, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.

What began as outrage over suspected vote fraud in local elections quickly hit the religious fault line that quakes from time to time in the area located between the Islamic north and Christian south, as angry Muslims took aim at Christian sites rather than at political targets. Police and troops reportedly killed about 400 rampaging Muslims in an effort to quell the unrest, and Islamists shot, slashed or stabbed to death most of more than 100 Christians killed.

Religion Today Summaries

Spanish Judge Put on Trial for "Obstructing" Homosexual Adoption

A Spanish judge from the province of Murcia is being tried for obtsructing the adoption of a child by her mother's lesbian lover.

The judge, Fernando Ferrin Calamita, acknowledges that he delayed ruling on the case, but "only to protect the child."

"Children need a father and a mother," Calamita told the media yesterday during the first day of the trial. "A man and a woman complement each other. Two women don't."

The judge also expressed fears that turning a child over to a lesbian couple would make the child "a human guinea pig."

The charges against Calamita stem from his insistence on obtaining an assessment of the likely psychological impact of the adoption of the child. Although court-appointed psychologists issued two psychological analyses of the women, Vanesa de las Heras and Susana Meseguer, Calamita claims they did not investigate the likely impact on the child, Candela.

As a result of his pro-family approach, Calamita has been barred from the bench since February 2008 without pay. If convicted he could pay a fine equivalent to nine months of Spain's minimum wage and be prohibited from functioning as a judge for 18 years.

Calamita has stated that if returned to the bench, he would conduct future cases in an identical manner.


Americans Pass Economic Woes to Churches

A new study from the Barna Group shows that fears and disruptions in the economy have induced one in every five households to decrease donations to churches or other religious centers.

Over the last three months, 22 percent have stopped giving entirely, and even 48 percent of givers in "upscale" housholds were likely to have reduced their donation. The report found that families with "serious financial debt, "downscale" households, and those who lost 20 percent or greater in their retirement fund or stock portfolio value were most likely to cut back.

Among the 20 percent total who cut back at least somewhat, 28 percent had reduced their gifts by half or more. Christian Post reports that George Barna, head of the Barna Group, said, "The giving patterns we're witnessing suggest that churches, alone, will receive some $3 billion to $5 billion dollars less than expected during this fourth quarter." Churches can usually expect greater giving in the last quarter, Barna said, but need to prepare for a 4 percent to 6 percent dip below usual.

Religion Today Summaries

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