Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 17, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 17, 2008

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

  • Overwhelming Response to Evangelistic Campaign in Poland
  • Algeria’s Religious Rights Abuses Criticized at UN
  • Evangelicals Give Mixed Reactions to Pope's Visit
  • China Slammed For Return Of North Korean Refugees

Overwhelming Response to Evangelistic Campaign in Poland

ASSIST News Service reports that the response to the evangelistic campaign ProChrist in Poland has overwhelmed the organizers. Approximately 20,000 visitors began a new life in Christ. Roughly 80,000 took part in the event April 6 – 13. Programs were transmitted via TV satellite from Katowice in Southern Poland to 103 venues in the whole country. More than 26,700 persons flocked to the sports arena “Spondek” in Katowice to witness the Polish programs. Only the sermons by German evangelist Ulrich Parzany were translated. Roughly 10,600 decisions for Christ were registered in Katowice alone. During the closing night Parzany asked only those to come forward who wished to make a decision to follow Christ for the first time in their life. As a result, 1,500 went to the cross near the platform. Parzany said he had never witnessed such a strong response.

Algeria’s Religious Rights Abuses Criticized at UN

Following an increase in church closures and convictions of Christians in Algeria this year, a United Nations body this week questioned Algerian delegates on an “alarming deterioration” of religious freedom there, Compass Direct News reports. Participants at Monday April 14th's Human Rights Council review in Geneva cast the issue of religious rights abuses in Algeria into the spotlight. Algeria’s 2006 decree threatens up to five years imprisonment and a 1 million dinar fine for anyone attempting to convert a Muslim to another religion. In response to the criticisms, Algerian delegate Lazhar Soualem said the 2006 decree had been enacted to stop “people who are not skilled, and who are not qualified and who are not authorized to exercise religious rights.”

Evangelicals Give Mixed Reactions to Pope's Visit

The Christian Post reports that evangelical leaders are expressing mixed reactions to Pope Benedict XVI’s first U.S. visit. Tony Perkins, head of Family Research Council, lauded Pope Benedict XVI and said there was “no better time” for the U.S. to receive the Pope and hear from the “moral ambassador.” Perkins said that despite theological differences between Catholics and Protestants, “devout” members of both bodies share more in common than they do with “liberals in their own camp.” However, others such as Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, reminded the public that the Pope is a staunch defender of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and that it is not likely that evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church will bridge differences.

China Slammed For Return Of North Korean Refugees

According to a Religion News Service release, a United States commission said Tuesday that North Korean refugees suspected of meeting with religious groups are often marked for harsh interrogation, torture and long detentions without trial after they are forced by China to return to the North Korea. A report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called for nations to press China to stop sending North Korean refugees back to their homeland. Open Doors USA, along with other members of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, are partnering during North Korea Freedom Week (NKFW) April 26-May 3. During that week the United States and other countries around the world will focus on the massive human rights abuses by the North Korean communist government headed by President Kim Jong Il. The North Korea Freedom Coalition is also urging China to stop the repatriation of North Korean refugees.