Religion Today Summaries - January 6, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 6, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Anti-Christian Incidents Nearly Doubled in Indonesia in 2011
  • Cuba 'Hungry For the Lord'
  • Assemblies of God Starts a Church a Day
  • California Students Now Required to Study Contributions of LGBT Americans


Anti-Christian Incidents Nearly Doubled in Indonesia in 2011

Acts of violence and intolerance against Christians in Indonesia almost doubled in 2011, with an Islamist campaign to close down churches symbolizing the plight of the religious minority, Compass Direct News reports. The Indonesian Protestant Church Union counted 54 acts of violence and other violations against Christians in 2011, up from 30 in 2010. The number of such incidents against religious minorities also grew, from 198 in 2010 to 276 in 2011, but the worst is perhaps yet to come if authorities continue to overlook the threat of Muslim extremism -- at least 36 regulations to ban religious practices deemed deviant from Islam were drafted or implemented in the country in 2011.

Cuba 'Hungry For the Lord'

A Mississippi pastor who recently traveled to teach pastors in Cuba -- a country once closed to the American Christian church -- says the Lord is very much at work there, reports. "The most exciting thing was to see the movement of God in the people," said the Rev. Terry Pierce. "Even though they've had such regulations ... with the gospel ... people are hungry for the Lord." Pierce emphasized that the church was still being monitored by the government, but said there was starting to be "a little bit of a loosening" and noted one pastor who had constructed a church from whatever materials he could find since there were no nearby home improvement stores to buy building supplies. Though the government has "no concrete formula" for "impos[ing] their rules and regulations at their whim," that church has so far not faced any problems, Pierce said.

Assemblies of God Starts a Church a Day

The Assemblies of God, one of the nation's largest Pentecostal denominations, opened 368 new churches in 2011, Christianity Today reports. Denominational officials reported that 230 churches closed in 2011 -- one of the lowest numbers in a decade -- making the overall net gain of churches 138. The number of new churches is the second-highest since the denomination began keeping statistics in 1965, and there are now 12,595 Assemblies of God congregations in the country, the highest ever recorded. "One of our strategic values is to vigorously plant new churches," said general superintendent George O. Wood. He hopes more than 400 U.S. churches will be started in 2012, and eventually at least 500 annually.

California Students Now Required to Study Contributions of LGBT Americans

On Jan. 1, the California Department of Education began implementing a new law that requires all children in the state's public schools to study "the role and contributions" of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans to "the development of California and the United States," reports. Pro-family group says additionally that parents will not be notified nor will they be allowed to exempt their children from the new materials. "It's decision time for parents," said Randy Thomasson of "[The law] absolutely prohibits the government schools from teaching the facts that homosexuality is inherently unnatural and unhealthy with the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases and the highest mode of transmission for HIV/AIDS. ... It's ironic and sad that children ... will be taught that cigarettes are negative, driving drunk is negative, drug use is negative, but they won't be taught homosexuality is unhealthy."

Publication date: January 6, 2012