Religion Today Summaries - July 19, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 19, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Illegal Beijing Church Sees Attendance Surge
  • Rights Group Calls for Urgent Inquiry in Sudan Violence
  • Egypt's Christians to Protest Slow Probe of Church Bombing
  • Greek Churches Feel Pinch of Economic Collapse


Illegal Beijing Church Sees Attendance Surge

After a week of harsh restrictions by Chinese authorities, Shouwang Church saw a rise in people who were able to participate in its outdoor meeting July 10. Baptist Press reports that at least 26 Chinese Christians were arrested on Sunday, which marked the 14th week of outdoor meeting attempts. The underground church was evicted from its leased meeting space by the government in April, and church members meet in an open-air plaza in northwest Beijing each Sunday. All those arrested on Sunday were released by early Monday. "We are very thankful that in front of each police station in which believers were detained, there were several believers praying and waiting for them, which greatly comforted believers detained inside," Shouwang said in its statement. "Through this, many believers deeply felt that we are not alone, we are not experiencing this as isolated individuals. We are experiencing this together during this particular period as a church."

Rights Group Calls for Urgent Inquiry in Sudan Violence

Christian Solidarity Worldwide has joined calls for an urgent investigation into human rights violations in South Kordofan in Sudan. The calls follow a leaked report by a UN commission in Sudan that accuses the Government of Sudan of egregious abuses against members of the Nuba ethnic group. The report also catalogues active obstruction of UN peacekeeping efforts in the area since June. The “UNMIS Report on the Human Rights Situation in Southern Kordofan" confirms information from sources on the ground detailing such abuses as the targeting, extra-judicial and summary executing of suspected Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) supporters and ethnic Nuba in Kadugli, including women and children; the targeting of churches and congregations; the systematic destruction of Nuban homes; the daily aerial bombardment of civilian areas and the possible use of chemical substances.

Egypt's Christians to Protest Slow Probe of Church Bombing

Christians in Egypt are frustrated by the slow pace of the police investigation into a New Year's church bombing in Alexadria. The blast at the Coptic Orthodox Church of Saint Mark killed 23 and injured 97, but Egyptian investigation agencies only blamed the explosion on foreigners and al-Qaida soon after the incident. They have done little to trace the culprits since then. The church’s attorney, Joseph Malak, has said the Copts plan to stage demonstrations soon demanding a speedier investigation. According to The Christian Post, Malak said the church has submitted “several reports and memorandums” to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, attorney general, and interior minister, but all of these documents have been ignored.

Greek Churches Feel Pinch of Economic Collapse

According to church leaders in Athens, minority Christian churches in Greece are closing down their charity work and struggling to pay clergy salaries in the economic crisis. "Like other Protestant churches, we're financially autonomous here and not supported by anyone but our own members, so our revenue has fallen sharply," said Dimitrios Boukis, general secretary of the Greek Evangelical Church, which has 29 congregations. "We're already unable to pay the pensions of older pastors and their widows, and we've seen a rapid increase in requests for help from local parishioners." Religion News Service reports that the Orthodox Church of Greece, which covers 97 percent of the population and enjoys state recognition, is also cutting back its social and charitable work. Greek Orthodox clergy must accept a 50 percent reduction in their state-paid salaries.