Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 27, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 27, 2008

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

  • Jordan Deports More Christians
  • St. Patrick's Day vs. Holy Week
  • Hindu Extremists Attack Christians in Madhya Pradesh
  • New Online Survey Helps Christians Define their Faith

Jordan Deports More Christians

Jordan last week admitted to expelling foreigners for “illegal” missionary activities, Compass Direct News reports. Acting Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told the Jordanian parliament on Wednesday, February 20 that authorities had expelled missionaries operating “under the cover of doing charitable work,” suggesting that evangelistic activity is illegal in Jordan. If such evangelistic work were illegal, Jordan could be opening itself to accusations of violating of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the country published in its official Gazette in July 2006, giving it the force of law.

St. Patrick's Day vs. Holy Week

For the first time since 1940, St. Patrick's Day will fall during Holy Week, the sacred seven days preceding Easter. The Christian Post reports that because of the overlap, liturgical rules dictate that no Mass in honor of the saint can be celebrated on Monday, March 17. A few Roman Catholic leaders are asking for even more moderation in their dioceses: they asking for parades and other festivities to be kept out of Holy Week as well. In Savannah, Georgia, Bishop J. Kevin Boland wrote to practically every agency in his city saying the diocese was changing the date of its celebration this year. In response, the citywide Irish festival was moved to Friday, March 14, when schools will close and bagpipe-driven parties will carry into the streets. "It's not a sin to celebrate your Irish culture," said Columbus, Ohio Shamrock Club president Mark Dempsey. "Actually, you're born Irish first," he said, "and then you're baptized Catholic." In Boston, the St. Patrick's parade remains set for Sunday, March 16, which is Palm Sunday and the first day of Holy Week.

Hindu Extremists Attack Christians in Madhya Pradesh

According to Compass Direct News, at least 125 Hindu extremists attacked one of the oldest and best-known churches in Madhya Pradesh state, Masihi Mandir Church, brutally beating one of the fleeing members. The assault followed an attack in Kosmi, near Balaghat, on Friday February 22 in which a mob of Hindu extremists dragged at least four people from a home where Christians were meeting and beat them with bamboo poles, rods and belts. In that attack, four or five Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal entered the home of Najak Ji, where the Jeevan Jyoti Church had organized a Lent meeting. Shouting “Stop conversions,” the extremists grabbed the collar of Tom George from Kerala, who was speaking, and dragged him out. Sunil Lal tried to protect George, and the extremists grabbed him also. They dragged them outside, where 15 to 20 people were waiting, and severely beat them. Lal and George sustained severe internal injuries, with Lal also suffering wounds on his head, ears, cheeks, shoulders, hands, stomach, knees and left leg.

New Online Survey Helps Christians Define their Faith

A Religion News Service release asks: "If you identify yourself as Christian, what kind of Christian are you?" That’s the question being asked by researchers in an online survey designed to give participants personalized insight into their faith. The Rev. Marsha Cutting of the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary heads a team of researchers from Wilfrid Laurier University, Liberty University and Boston University in developing the research instrument, called the Inclusive Christian Scale. After responding to questions about their faith, participants will receive a score showing where their beliefs lie across six different emphases that an individual Christian might have: Congregational Involvement, Evangelical, Christian Conservative, Golden Rule, Activist, and Mystical. Participants are then asked how accurately they feel these scores reflect their own understanding of their faith.