Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 5, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 5, 2008

Editor's Note, updated May 1, 2008, regarding Summary No. 2 below:

Please be advised that, based on new information received this week, the January 24 article, "Elderly Christian Woman's Home Set Ablaze in Bangladesh," should be disregarded. The report indicated that Rahima Beoa suffered burns when unknown attackers in a Muslim-majority area set her home on fire because of her new-found faith in Christ. She did suffer severe burns, which led to her death on February 1, but the local denominational sources cited by name in the story have since admitted that a local denominational district supervisor deliberately misled them and others about the source of the fire, which in fact was accidental. Likewise, the February 4 follow-up report on Beoa's death, "Elderly Convert from Islam in Bangladesh Dies from Burns," should be disregarded. We regret the misinformation and its negative repercussions in Bangladesh and in various quarters around the world. -- Eds. 

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

  • North Korea Remains No. 1 Persecutor Of Christians
  • Elderly Convert from Islam in Bangladesh Dies from Burns
  • Survey: Born Again Christians Favor Democratic Candidates
  • Christian Teens to Rally in Times Square

North Korea Remains No. 1 Persecutor Of Christians

This year’s No. 1 spot on Open Doors’ 2008 World Watch List is no stranger: North Korea has now topped the list for six years in a row. According to a release from Open Doors USA, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds a solid No. 2 place, followed closely by Iran. Maldives is No. 4. New at No. 5 is Bhutan, moving a few places up from No. 7 last year, mainly because Somalia and Yemen saw a decrease in persecution. The No. 6 spot is taken by Yemen. Afghanistan rose from No. 10 to No. 7. Laos saw little change in religious freedom last year, but it moved up one place, from No. 9 to No. 8. Two new countries entered the Top 10: Uzbekistan at No. 9 and China No. 10. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, says: “It is certainly not a shock that North Korea is No. 1 on the shame list for the sixth year in a row. There is no other country in the world where Christians are being persecuted in such a horrible and systematic manner. I encourage you to join our prayer campaign for North Korea and to plug in to the many opportunities Open Doors offers to advocate for the oppressed believers during North Korea Freedom Week April 27-May 3. All the information is on our Website at”

Elderly Convert from Islam in Bangladesh Dies from Burns

A 70-year-old woman convert from Islam died on Friday February 1 from burns she suffered when unknown assailants in a Muslim-majority area about 150 miles northwest of the capital set her home on fire last month. Rahima Beoa of Cinatuly village suffered burns over 70 to 80 percent of her body after the home she shared with her daughter and son-in-law, also converts, was set ablaze the night of January 7, said Khaled Mintu, Rangpur regional supervisor of the Isha-e-Jamat (Jesus’ Church) Bangladesh denomination. Villagers were upset over her conversion to Christianity and that of her daughter and son-in-law, he said. “Before her burial, the family members forgave those who set fire in the house and prayed to God that this kind of incident not occur anymore in this country,” Mintu told Compass Direct News. “They also prayed for a situation where Muslims and Christians can practice their own religion side by side peacefully.”

Survey: Born Again Christians Favor Democratic Candidates

The Christian Post reports that a surprising new survey out Monday found that more born again Christian voters said they would support a Democratic candidate than a Republican candidate, breaking the long tradition of born-again support for the GOP. The new Barna study shows that if the general election was held today, 40 percent of all born again adults who are likely to vote in November would choose the Democratic candidate, while only 29 percent would choose the Republican candidate. However, 28 percent are currently unsure whom they would support, preferring to vote for a specific candidate rather than strictly along party lines. “Given the large percentage of undecided voters, it is possible that the Republican candidate might eventually win a majority of the born again vote,” said George Barna, whose firm conducted the national survey. “However, it will not be easy to win them over.”

Christian Teens to Rally in Times Square

On Feb. 8, hundreds of teens will rally in Times Square to counter a culture that glamorizes drugs, sex and violence. The RECREATE ’08 rally will showcase TEEN MANIA teens who are actively working to RE-create pop culture — including entertainment, fashion, the arts, and the Web — into products that that build up, not tear down, their generation. Fueled by their faith, these Teen Mania teens have sparked a movement of more than 400,000 like-minded teenagers who have gathered at arena events from coast to coast during the past two years to impact pop culture for the good of their generation. The RECREATE ’08 rally in Times Square will feature teens in the act of RE-creating some of their generation’s favorite products. The teens will also issue a list of eight questions for the presidential candidates that reflect their top concerns including: youth exposure to Internet pornography, media glamorization of drugs, sex and alcohol, and the AIDS pandemic.