Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 21, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 21, 2008

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

  • Hindu Nationalist Extremists Injure Nearly 100 in India
  • Four House Church Leaders Released from Labor Camp
  • Serial Attacks on Iraqi Churches Continue
  • Malaysia Confiscates Christian Children’s Books

Hindu Nationalist Extremists Injure Nearly 100 in India

More than 80 people were injured in an attack on a large Christian meeting on Wednesday in Chhattisgarh state’s Durg district, followed yesterday by an assault on a missionary camp in Dhamtari district that hurt at least a dozen Christians, Compass Direct News reports. The Hindu extremist attacks come within weeks of unprecedented anti-Christian violence in neighboring Orissa state. In Chhattisgarh’s Durg district violence, Christians said it was no coincidence that Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) extremists launched the attack as the political arm of the militants, the Bharatiya Janata Party, was holding a public meeting in the area. “The attackers, who were from the extremist group Dharam Sena [Army for Religion], came in four trucks, beat Christians and others who were attending the healing meeting, and vandalized the makeshift structure,” said the Rev. Arpan Tarun of the Chhattisgarh Pastors’ Fellowship.

Four House Church Leaders Released from Labor Camp

Four House Church leaders were released from their labor camp in Hubei province last week, ASSIST News Service reports. After the January 8 ruling, the four leaders were released while they were serving their sentence in a labor camp. A China Aid Association (CAA) spokesperson said, “Four male church leaders and five female leaders were arrested and sentenced to 18 months and 12 months re-education through labor respectively on August 6, 2007 after they were detained on July 15 when they were found having Sunday worship service together at the home of Ms. Qin Daomin. “They were accused of the ‘crime of engaging in organizing and making use of evil cult organization to undermine the enforcement of State laws.’ Since then, two female leaders have been serving their sentence at their homes because of illness and having infant baby." After three months of deliberations, the final ruling said “after reviewing the applicants’ application for reconsideration and the answers and evidence submitted by the respondent, this committee believes that the decision of education through labor of En Zhou Lao Jue Zi [2007] No. 00038 made by Education through Labor Administration Committee of Enshi Autonomous Region is not based on clear facts and is not supported by sufficient evidence.”

Serial Attacks on Iraqi Churches Continue

Compass Direct News reprots that a car-bomb exploded outside a Chaldean church in northern Iraq this weekend, injuring two people, a Baghdad bishop said. The blast is the 10th reported attack on Iraqi churches in two weeks. Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Warduni confirmed that the explosion outside the Tahira church in western Mosul’s al-Shifaa neighborhood had slightly injured two people. The blast hurt a policeman and an unidentified woman and damaged a church wall and windows, Iraqi Christian website said. It came just a week after two churches in the northeastern city of Kirkuk were simultaneously bombed. With violence between Shiite and Sunni militias running rampant in Iraq, it remains to be seen how much security the government will provide. “Many people have been killed and many have been kidnapped this year, so our people are very sad and afraid,” said Bishop Warduni.

Malaysia Confiscates Christian Children’s Books

The Malaysian government has confiscated English language Christian children’s books containing illustrations of prophets as well as books containing the word “Allah,” according to the online news agency Malaysiakini. Compass Direct News reports the illustrations were deemed offensive to Muslims since Islam, which shares some prophets in common with Christianity, prohibits the portrayal of prophets. The Rev. Dr. Hermen Shastri, general-secretary of the Council of Churches Malaysia, questioned how books containing the illustrations of prophets could be offensive to Muslims when they were not meant for Muslims. Shastri urged the government to take immediate action to stop such seizures and to “amend administrative rules and regulations especially in the Internal Security Ministry that give a freehand to enforcement officials to act at their whim and fancies.”