Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Fast-Growing Christian Churches Crushed in China
- Hindu Nationalist Party Official in India Charged in Nun's Rape
- British Inn Owners Cleared of Hate Crime against Muslim Guest
- Church Torched by Hindu radicals in India
Fast-Growing Christian Churches Crushed in China
The Associated Press reports that the forced closure of what could be called China's first megachurch shows both the spread of house churches and official aversion to them. The Golden Lamp Church in the city of Linfen could hold 50,000 attendees before hundreds of police and mercenaries abused and vandalized the property almost three months ago. More than a dozen worshippers were seriously injured in the attack. Now, police patrol the former church's neighborhood while the church's pastors have been imprisoned. The church represented the country's growing number of unregistered (and therefore illegal) house churches, where an estimated 60 million Chinese attend. Only about 20 million worship in the state-approved Three-Self churches. "They are so afraid of rallying points developing for gathering of elements of civil society," said Daniel Bays, who follows Chinese Christianity at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Hindu Nationalist Party Official in India Charged in Nun's Rape
Compass Direct News reports that police in Orissa state have arrested an official of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for allegedly leading an attack that ended in the rape of a Catholic nun during last year. Gururam Patra, identified by local residents as general secretary of the BJP in Kandhamal district, was arrested on Dec. 6 in Balliguda; he was charged with leading the attack but not with the rape of Sister Meena Lalita Barwa, then 28, on Aug. 25, 2008. "He is the one who went into the house where the nun was staying and took her out, along with his associates who outraged her modesty," said an investigating officer, Dilip Kumar Mohanty. Previously police had arrested 18 associates of Patra. Hindu extremist groups distanced themselves from Patra, with Orissa BJP President Suresh Pujari telling Compass that he did not know if Patra was a member of his party.
British Inn Owners Cleared of Hate Crime against Muslim Guest
Religion News Service reports that two Christian hotel operators have won a legal fight against a Muslim convert who accused them of insulting her faith. Ericka Tazi, an ex-Roman Catholic who embraced Islam 18 months ago, told a magistrates' court in Liverpool, England, that during her stay at the Bounty House Hotel, innkeepers Benjamin and Sharon Vogelenzang subjected her to an hour-long anti-Islam tirade when she showed up for breakfast wearing a hijab, a Muslim head covering. Judge Richard Clancy threw out Tazi's complaint on Wednesday (Dec. 9) and dismissed a charge of a religiously aggravated "hate crime" against the owners, saying, "I'm not satisfied on the facts that this case has been made out." The ruling came only days after former church elder Gary MacFarlane lost a court case revolving around his own Christian beliefs, which he said prevented him from offering relationship counseling to gay couples.
Church Torched by Hindu radicals in India
ASSIST News Service reports that Hindu radical torched and destroyed another church in Andhra Pradesh state, India. Police investigations found that members of two Hindu radical groups, Rashtriya Swayam Sevaks and Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP), poured petrol [gasoline] on Jesus Lights Manna Church and set it on fire on Dec. 8. The main entrance door of the church, the altar, window panes, church Amplifier (PA system), service books and Bibles were burnt to ashes. Witnesses saw the church burning around four o'clock in the morning and warned Pastor Mengu Elia. Police officials have arrested a BJP leader and another culprit for their alleged involvement in setting the church on fire.