Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 17, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 17, 2008

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

  • Evangelical Vote Key in Republican Race Thus Far
  • Gaza's Christian Population Wanes
  • Christian Leader Arrested in Xinjiang Province of China
  • Religious Signs are Church's Issue of Equality

Evangelical Vote Key in Republican Race Thus Far

According to Baptist Press, for the third straight contest, self-professed evangelicals voted Jan. 15 for a different Republican presidential candidate who, in each case, was the winner. Voting in the Michigan GOP primary, 34 percent of voters who identify themselves as either born again or evangelical voted for Michigan native Mitt Romney -- who won the primary -- while 29 percent chose Mike Huckabee and 23 percent John McCain, according to exit polls. One week earlier in New Hampshire, Huckabee and winner John McCain split the evangelical vote, getting 28 percent each to Romney's 27 percent. And in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Huckabee won 46 percent of the evangelical vote to propel him to an easy victory there. Although evangelicals have yet to rally around one candidate, thus far a plurality from that category have voted for the victor each time.

Gaza's Christian Population Wanes

A story in the Washington Times tells of a church in the Gaza Strip, where only eight worshippers are present for Sunday service, compared with more than 100 who attended six months ago. Gaza's small Baptist community is dwindling rapidly, the article states, and Pastor Hanna Massad took refuge in the West Bank after congregant Rami Eyad was killed in October. Life has become increasingly difficult for Christians in Gaza since Hamas seized control of the coastal strip in June. Most Christians do not hold Hamas directly responsible, but they are calling for increased protection and accountability.

Christian Leader Arrested in Xinjiang Province of China

A House Church leader in Kashi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was secretly detained on January 12, ASSIST News Service reports. According to an eyewitness, Mr. A Li Mu Jiang was taken away from his home by State Security Bureau agents for an accused “national security issue.” His wife was also taken from her home for interrogation in the evening of the same day. China Aid Association (CAA) says Government officials continue to persecute House Church members and Christians in Xinjiang Pronvince, as was the case in December of 2007, in which a Christian employee of Xinjiang Pacific Agricultural Resources Development Company, Ltd, was detained and sentenced to 2-3 years reeducation through labor, for allegedly revealing State secrets. CAA says the charges were a cover however, as the real reason for his arrest stemmed from his association with the owner of the company, an American and outspoken Christian. More details concerning the detention of Mr. A Li Mu Jiang and his wife will be released soon.

Religious Signs are Church's Issue of Equality

A report on states, "An Arizona town is being sued for discriminating against religious signs. In spring of last year, Good News Presbyterian Church filed the suit against the town of Gilbert because of the sign code, which required church signs to be fewer in number, smaller in size, and displayed for much less time than non-religious signs. The town agreed to a preliminary injunction, and last week passed an amended code. But Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defense Fund -- which is representing Good News -- says the amended code provides the same discriminatory treatment. 'The First Amendment requires the town to treat church signs the same as similar non-religious signs, and that's precisely what the town's amended code does not do,' he states. The Alliance Defense Fund is now asking for a new preliminary injunction against the amended sign code while it proceeds with the suit."