Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Attacks in Plateau State, Nigeria, Leave 9 Dead
- Baby Boomers Flood Seminaries
- Christians in Indonesia Decry Lax Security after Attacks
- Christians Alarmed by UK Bill to Allow Gay Ceremonies in Churches
Attacks in Plateau State, Nigeria, Leave 9 Dead
A week of relative peace in Nigeria’s Plateau State was shattered Thursday by a series of attacks that have left at least nine people dead. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that three members of one family were among five people killed in a targeted attack at the Federal College of Land Resources near Jos on Feb. 10. Eyewitnesses report that men dressed in military uniforms were amongst the attackers. Next, the attackers headed straight for two other houses nearby, killing two men and seriously wounding two others. They also attacked one couple's car and set a bus on fire. Two days later, an elderly woman was beheaded, two of her grandchildren were murdered, and a man was killed during a late night attack by unknown assailants on Shekan village in Jos South. Plateau State officials had only recently deployed more troops to the area attacked.
Baby Boomers Flood Seminaries
Boomers are the fastest-growing demographic at U.S. divinity schools, according to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), an organization of more than 250 theological graduate schools in the U.S. and Canada. TIME reports that younger students under age 30 are still the biggest demographic in the student body, but those over 50 have jumped from 12 percent of students in 1994 to 20 percent in 2009. ATS says the slow economy and job loss may contribute to the trend, but doesn't really explain it. "I wanted to give back in some way," says the Rev. Bob Fellows, who completed his seminary training three years ago at the age of 58. Fellows, who used to make a living as a magician and public speaker, now leads the 200-plus-member Community Congregational Church in Greenland, N.H. He says he spent two years as a youth minister in the 1970s before deciding he wasn't ready to lead a flock at such a young age. "As an older minister, I have a lot more useful life experience," he says.
Christian Leaders in Indonesia Decry Lax Security after Attacks
Compass Direct News reports that Christian leaders fault Indonesian authorities for the security breaches that allowed extremist mobs to go on a rampage last week. The events followed a judge's ruling that sentenced a man to five years in prison for blasphemy, the maximum punishment under the law. Islamists decried the punishment as too weak, demanding the death sentence. Several churches were burned and a priest was badly injured in the melee. The secretary of the Indonesian Bishops Conference, the Rev. Benny Susetyo, said he has asked the government to definitively resolve the growing problem of anti-Christian violence in Indonesia, as such incidents have repeatedly occurred. “If the government does not act, those who have committed violence may feel above the law,” Susetyo told Compass. “And that means legal Indonesian civilization has been destroyed.”
Christians Alarmed by UK Bill to Allow Gay Ceremonies in Churches
Christian Today reports that churches in Great Britain worry they may soon be forced to allow same-sex ceremonies in their buildings. The plans are being championed by the Liberal Democrats, who are also pursuing full “marriage” rights for same-sex couples, and would allow civil partnership ceremonies in churches, synagogues and other places of worship. Dr. John Sentamu told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show, “I live in a liberal democracy and I want equality for everybody. I cannot say the Quakers shouldn’t do it... Nor do I want somebody to tell me the Church of England must do it or the Roman Catholic Church must do it because actually that is not what equality is about.” The legislation, if passed, is expected to allow religious groups to decide individually if they want to host the ceremonies. However, some Christians worry such legislation in any form could compromise religious freedom.