Religion Today Summaries, December 4, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, December 4, 2003

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

  • Cameroon Pastor Elected President of All Africa Conference of Churches
  • Gay-Marriage Ruling Prompts 'Emergency Solemn Assembly'
  • India's Christian Leaders Hail Pope's Rejection of Caste System
  • Sri Lankan Church Attacks Escalate

Cameroon Pastor Elected President of All Africa Conference of Churches
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

Presbyterian pastor from Cameroon was elected president of the All Africa Conference of Churches and urged African Christians to confront their governments over abuse and injustice.  The Rev. Nyansako-Ni-Nku was elected to the five-year post on Nov. 27 during the AACC's assembly in Yaounde, Cameroon. He succeeds the Rev. Kwesi Dickson of Ghana as president.  "I belong to the theology that you have to identify the demons and name them by name," Nku said after his election. "That is very risky. We who are called to ministry must realize the call to discipleship has its costs."  Nku is currently the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon and second vice president of the Federation of Protestant Churches and Missions in Cameroon.  Nku said African churches have been too reluctant to confront exploitation, poverty and the "massive looting of resources."  "There is such a paralyzing fear for people to criticize their governments because of the consequences," he said. "The only salvation for the people is to listen to the church. The church has to have high morals and to raise strong ethical issues."  Nku began his career as a journalist and broadcaster and pursued theology studies in the United States. He is a veteran of the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission.

Gay-Marriage Ruling Prompts 'Emergency Solemn Assembly'
Charisma News Service

In the wake of the Massachusetts' high court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, two intercessory groups in the state have called for an "Emergency Solemn Assembly." Weeping Willows Ministry and New England Concerts of Prayer are urging intercessors to pray for several hours at the State House in Boston on Tuesday. "This meeting is for all [of] New England and New York to pray, fast, and repent on site regarding the gay-marriage issue now facing the Massachusetts Legislature," the groups said. "Pastors and intercessors from all states are especially needed to come over and help us in our hour of need. What happens in Massachusetts will affect every state and every church." Last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that gay marriages were permissible under the state's Constitution, ordering lawmakers 180 days to pass enabling legislation. "I do anticipate that in January ... this issue will be brought up," Colorado Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave said. "I think that the American public will demand a response from the Massachusetts ruling, and they will also clearly communicate to their members of Congress how they feel about this attack [against traditional marriage].”

India's Christian Leaders Hail Pope's Rejection of Caste System
Joshua Newton, Religion News Service

Indian Christian leaders have hailed the critique of Pope John Paul II of the caste system practiced among Hindus in India. John Paul told Roman Catholic bishops from India making their ad limina visit to the Vatican to reject divisions based on caste. "At all times, you must continue to make certain that special attention is given to those belonging to the lowest castes, especially the Dalits," he exhorted the bishops. Dalits are Hindus at the bottom of the Indian caste structure.  Archbishop James Masilamony Arul Das of Madras and Mylapore welcomed the pontiff's statement. "This will strengthen our struggle against the inhuman practices followed in the name of religion in India," he said.  John Paul's statement comes in the wake of large numbers of conversions by Dalits to Christianity. "Extremists using versions of Hindu ideology will strive to keep the caste system in place," said the Rev. Dr. Ipe Joseph, general secretary of National Council of Churches in India. "The church in India has not been able to stand up fiercely to defend our faith. Many church leaders are not actively fighting this caste system."  The bishops conference has acknowledged caste-based practices are still found in the church.

Sri Lankan Church Attacks Escalate
Charisma News Service

Militant Buddhists have recently targeted several Assemblies of God (AG) churches in Sri Lanka. According to the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission, a church in Kotadeniyawa was torched. The church's woman pastor, identified only Ayesha, was hospitalized after some 30 men from a local Buddhist temple attacked her congregation. Additionally, AG churches in Kesbewa, Balapitiya, Embilipitiya, Vankalai and Ja-ela were recently threatened or attacked. Other churches in Kadawatha, Marandagahamula and Athurugiriya were also targeted. Intercessors for Sri Lanka (ISL) recently called for a special prayer for the African nation. Pastor M.C. Mathew, ISL's coordinator, said more than 100 evangelical and full gospel churches have been attacked in the past year by Buddhist and Hindu extremists in the African nation's southern and eastern regions. "Some pastors have suffered injuries by the attacking mobs," ISL said. "The police are taking no action. The government is silent and continues to formulate legislation to prohibit conversion to Christianity. Believers are making appeals to foreign embassies. Most endangered churches have begun 24-hour prayer watches."

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