Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 20, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 20, 2009

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

  • Survey: Few Evangelical Leaders Had Contact with Muslims
  • Hard-Line Hindus Still Forcing Conversions in Orissa
  • Willow Creek's Chicago Pastor Quits over 'Sexual Impurity'
  • India: Eleven Missionaries Arrested, Beaten

Survey: Few Evangelical Leaders Had Contact with Muslims

The Christian Post reports that evangelical leaders in America keep company mostly with those of their own religious convictions, according to survey by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Only 33 percent of leaders on the NAE board said they had a serious conversation with a Muslim in the past year. In contrast, 73 percent said they had no "close contact with an Islamic institution," and 67 percent had no significant interaction with Muslims as individuals. “The large majority of Evangelical leaders who have not experienced Islam first-hand are either ignorant of Islam or are getting their information from secondary sources,” said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals . “I assume that the reverse is also true; that a majority of Muslims are neither connected to nor informed about the faith of Evangelical Christians.”

Hard-Line Hindus Still Forcing Conversions in Orissa

Compass Direct News reports that hard-line Hindus in Kandhamal district have forced nearly half of 40 Christian families in one village to convert under threat of death, area Christians said. Bareka village resident Goliath Digal, 58, told Compass that since last year, the Hindu extremists have taken 18 Roman Catholic families to a Hindu temple and performed Hindu rituals on them, forcing them to sign statements that they had converted of their own will. “During the riots, all our belongings had been taken away and we were left with nothing,” Digal said. “Now they are threatening to murder us if we do not become Hindus.” In G. Udayagiri refugee camp, 55-year-old Vipin Nayak of Piangia Budaripura village said that all 400 Christian families from the hamlet have remained in the camp except for five families who were allowed to return after being forced to become Hindus.

Willow Creek's Chicago Pastor Quits over 'Sexual Impurity'

The Chicago Tribune reports that the pastor of the Willow Creek Chicago campus, a branch of the diverse 20,000 member Willow Creek Community Church, has resigned after admitting to "sexual impurity." Steve Wu, 43, joined the Willow Creek network in 2006, and grew the Chicago campus to more than 1,200 attendees. Church elders read a brief statement from Wu on Jan. 25, which stated, "He admitted to sexual impurity and has taken full responsibility for his sin. He has expressed a desire to participate in a restoration process… We would ask you to pray diligently for Steve in these difficult days.” Todd Katter will serve as interim pastor for the Chicago campus.

India: Eleven Missionaries Arrested, Beaten

ASSIST News Service reports that eleven Gospel for Asia missionaries were arrested and several Christians were beaten February 17 in Chhattisgarh, India. The incident took place while the missionaries were leading a three-day meeting for believers in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district. On the second day of the meeting, an anti-Christian extremist group, along with local politicians and police, attacked the crowd. They severely beat the missionaries who were leading the convention, as well as several Christians in attendance. They also destroyed the sound system and the tent where the meeting was being conducted. The missionaries were arrested at the conclusion of the attack. Chhattisgarh has an anti-conversion law, which outlines several steps that must be taken in order to change one’s religion. The law is vague and offers wide leeway in arresting and punishing those charged with violating it.