Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 15, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 15, 2009

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

  • Humanitarian Needs Increase in Gaza
  • Bangladeshi Muslims Force Christian Grandparents from Home
  • Most Protestant Churchgoers Open to Other Denominations
  • Egyptian Judge Ejects Lawyer for Christian from Court

Humanitarian Needs Increase in Gaza

Mission News Network reports that Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) has partnered with another Christian group in Gaza to directly help its people. "Gaza is very heavily populated, and residents cannot flee because all of the borders are closed. There seems to be an agreement of 900 dead and more than 2,000 wounded," said Jacob Kramer with CRWRC. "The hospitals are in great need of medicine, and that's where the CRWRC will try to make a small difference. We've started to help the hospitals and clinics there with supplies." According to Kramer, a number of Christians still live in the region, but have often been forced to close their churches and schools. Kramer asked that Christians pray for "the hearts of terrorists" at work in the region, as well as for those suffering.

Bangladeshi Muslims Force Christian Grandparents from Home

Compass Direct News reports that Muslims in a village in western Bangladesh have forced two brothers to expel their parents from their home for converting to Christianity. Ishmael Sheikh, 70, and his wife Rahima Khatun, 55, were baptized on Nov. 9. By the end of the month, Sheikh told Compass, Muslim neighbors in Kathuly village, near Gangni town in Meherpur district, had compelled their two sons to expel them from their house. The Muslims threatened that the children of Sheikh’s sons would not be allowed to marry anyone from the village if the brothers allowed their parents to remain in their home. “We are the first converted Christians in this village,” Sheikh said. “Neighbors told my sons, ‘Why should your parents live in this village? They do not have a right to live here because they are no longer Muslims.’”

Most Protestant Churchgoers Open to Other Denominations

ASSIST News Service reports that a new survey shows that seven out of 10 regular churchgoers would be at least somewhat open to switching denominations, with Protestants being much more open to the idea than Roman Catholics. According to a news release from Ellison Research, respondents who attend worship services once a month identified the specific denomination (e.g. not just “Baptist,” but “Southern Baptist") they attended most often, and were then asked what role that denomination would play if they could no longer attend their current church. Three out of 10 churchgoers said they would only consider attending one denomination and would not be open to anything else. Another 44 percent have one preferred denomination, but said they would also consider others. Nine percent said denomination was not a factor in their church attendance.

Egyptian Judge Ejects Lawyer for Christian from Court

Compass Direct News reports that an attempt by an Egyptian convert from Islam to legally change the religion listed on his identification card to “Christian” hit a setback on Jan. 6 when a judge ordered security personnel to remove his lawyer from court. Attorney Nabil Ghobreyal was expelled from the courtroom at Cairo’s Administrative Court following a heated argument with Judge Mohammad Ahmad Atyia. The dispute arose after Atyia refused to acknowledge the existence of legal documents detailing the successful attempt of a Muslim man to convert to the Baha’i faith. Ghobreyal had planned to submit the court records of the decision in support of his case. The convert, Maher Ahmad El-Mo’otahssem Bellah El-Gohary, is only the second Egyptian Christian convert raised as a Muslim to request such a change.