Religion Today Summaries - July 14, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 14, 2009

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

  • Iraq Raises Church Security amid Bombings
  • Seven Christians Beheaded in Somalia
  • Knowledge of Bible 'In Decline' in Great Britain’s Youth
  • Lao Officials Seize, Slaughter Christians’ Livestock

Iraq Raises Church Security amid Bombings

CNN reports that seven Christian churches were bombed in two days in Baghdad and Mosul, killing four and injuring 35 more. The last attack, near a church in Mosul on Monday morning, injured three children. Iraqi officials have stepped up security around churches throughout Iraq, and Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi has "strongly condemned" the attacks. The bombings underscore the tenuous security situation in the country, which has also seen similar bombings against Shiites. Christians in Mosul, which used to be a thriving community of Armenian Christians, have continued to leave the city due to violence.

Seven Christians Beheaded in Somalia

Christian News Wire reports that seven Somali Christians were beheaded by suspected hard-line insurgents from the Al-Shabaab group. Although al-Shabaab has carried out similar severe punishments in regions under its control, these executions allegedly are the largest number done at the same time. Somalia is believed to have a 99.95% Islamic following. There are only a handful Somali Christians inside the country and they have been forced underground. Some Christians have taken refuge in neighboring countries. Somalia is ranked No. 5 on the most recent Open Doors World Watch List which ranks the top persecutors of Christians. The previous year Somalia was ranked No. 12.

Knowledge of Bible 'In Decline' in Great Britain’s Youth

It's not that young people in Great Britain don't like the Bible, BBC reports. It's just "old-fashioned." A survey of 900 people by The National Biblical Literacy Survey showed that over half were unfamiliar with famous parables such as the Prodigal Son. Younger interviewees told researchers that the Bible was "old-fashioned", "irrelevant" and "for Dot Cottons" - in reference to the churchgoing character in the BBC One soap. Still, many respondents said they turn to the Bible at for guidance at “key moments.” Rev. Brian Brown, a Methodist minister and visiting fellow in media and communication at St John's College, Durham University said the church "cannot make the assumptions we used to make about the Bible and its place in contemporary people's lives and culture."

Lao Officials Seize, Slaughter Christians’ Livestock

Compass Direct News reports that on July 5 officials and residents of a village in Laos confiscated and slaughtered livestock belonging to nine Christian families, apparently in an effort to force them to renounce their faith. In June, elders of Katin village in Ta Oih district, Saravan province warned the 53 new converts to renounce their faith. When the Christians ignored this warning and attended worship services in a neighboring village, villagers broke into their pig pens and seized one pig per family, later slaughtering the animals and distributing the meat among themselves. Officials said the seizure of the pigs – each worth the equivalent of six weeks’ salary for an average laborer in the area – was a form of punishment for ignoring the order to abandon Christianity.