Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 15, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 15, 2009

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

  • U.S. Christian Bands Set Off for North Korea 'Friendship' Festival
  • Pakistani Suspects in Rape of Christian Girl Cleared
  • Canadian Believers in a God Down To 71 Percent
  • Egypt’s Coptic Church Issues First Conversion Certificate


U.S. Christian Bands Set Off for North Korea 'Friendship' Festival

The Christian Post reports that the isolated nation of North Korea apparently has one soft spot for Christians -- if they can sing. Contemporary Christian band Casting Crowns and family ensemble The Annie Moses Band are currently in the country on an invitation to the annual Spring Friendship Arts Festival. The Festival reportedly "emphasizes artistic exchange and promotes peace and good will," the Christ Post reports. "Perhaps it is clichéd, but music is a powerful medium," said AMB lead vocalist and violinist Annie Wolaver. "The fact that we are going as family presents a picture, not just of what it means to be artistic, but what it means to be a family, an American, and a Christian." Both bands left the U.S. on Sunday, and will spend nine days, mostly incommunicado, at the Festival.

Pakistani Suspects in Rape of Christian Girl Cleared

Compass Direct News reports that police have declared three Pakistani men innocent of raping a 13-year-old Christian girl despite eye witness accounts and medical evidence indicating their guilt. At a hearing in Nankana Sahib district court on April 3, police from the Pakistani town of Sangla Hill, 64 miles from Lahore, cleared 40-year-old Mohammed Shahbaz, 30-year-old Waqas Sadiq and 25-year-old Yousaf Sadiq of accusations of raping and threatening Ambreen Masih. Shahbaz was the only suspect to attend the hearing, which was initially called to discuss terms of his pre-arrest bail. But Judge Ijaz Hussan Awan said he couldn’t set terms for bail if police didn’t want to arrest or detain him. “In Pakistan it has always been like this – the wealthy person can approach the police and change the course of an investigation,” said prosecuting attorney Akbar Durrani.

Canadian Believers in a God Down To 71 Percent

All Headline News reports that 13 percent fewer Canadians believe in God today than in 2000, according to a new survey by Ipsos Reid. Ipsos vice president John Wright, quoted by Canwest, said, "One wants to say that faith is constant... But I think it is transient for the majority of people." The study found that even fewer people believe in the existence of an afterlife; only 20 percent say they believe in some kind of life after death, and only 1 in 5 believed in heaven and hell. The study of 1,000 respondents also showed a sharp contrast between men and women on the questions. In 2000, 82 percent of women said they believed in God, compared to 79 percent today. By contrast, 86 percent of men believed in a God in 2000 - today, that percentage dropped to just 63 percent, plunging more than 20 percentage points.

Egypt’s Coptic Church Issues First Conversion Certificate

Compass Direct News reports that in a bold move, Egypt’s Coptic Church has issued its first-ever certificate of conversion to a former Muslim, supporting his petition to have his national identification card denote his Christian faith. Maher Ahmad El-Mo’otahssem Bellah El-Gohary’s request to legally convert is only the second case in Egypt of a Muslim-born citizen trying to change his religious affiliation to Christianity on identification documents. Lawyers presented the Coptic Church’s conversion certificate to a court clerk on Saturday (April 11). “We know that the judge has seen the certificate, but we have no indication whether it is acceptable or not,” said Nabil Ghobreyal, one of three lawyers representing El-Gohary. Despite efforts to maintain the secrecy of El-Gohary’s whereabouts, he has received written death threats on more than one occasion since appearing in court on April 4 to register an official statement.

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