Religion Today Summaries - July 8, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 8, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Week 13: China Arrests 19 More Christians
  • C.J. Mahaney Takes Leave of Absence from Sovereign Grace
  • Eritrea Imprisons More than 50 Christians
  • Egypt Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Christian Re-Converts


Week 13: China Arrests 19 More Christians

Despite restrictions due to the Chinese Communist Party's 90th anniversary, members of Shouwang Church in Beijing continued to meet outdoors July 3. Baptist Press reports their actions led to at least 19 arrests. Church members defied the Chinese government for the 13th consecutive week with the outdoor service. The illegal church, which was evicted from its leased meeting space in April, reported in a translated statement on that police were waiting outside the church's designated worship site, an open-air plaza in northwest Beijing, and "only a few dozen people" were able to meet because, "many believers were under stricter detainment at home. Some individuals were taken to be detained in hotels nearby." All but two of the 19 people arrested were released by midnight, and one was released the next day. Some church members have lost their homes or jobs and others have been subjected to verbal abuse because of their faith.

C.J. Mahaney Takes Leave of Absence from Sovereign Grace

C.J. Mahaney, author of the bestseller "Living the Cross Centered Life," announced Wednesday that he is taking a leave of absence from the leadership in Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM). In a blog post on the SGM website, he said, "Over the last few years some former pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace have made charges against me and informed me about offenses they have with me as well as other leaders in Sovereign Grace. These charges are serious and they have been very grieving to read." He noted the charges do not include "immorality or financial impropriety" but include pride, deceit, and unentreatability. Church leader Dave Harvey, writing on behalf of the SGM board, said some of the charges also involve SGM as an organization. He said the church leaders are looking for a third-party to mediate talks and move toward reconciliation. "We covet your prayers," he said, "and we cherish our partnership with you now more than ever."

Eritrea Imprisons More than 50 Christians

According to Open Doors, Eritrean military officials have rounded up another group of evangelical Christians this week. Authorities arrested 35 believers on July 3 on suspicion of gathering for worship in Assab, a port city. Mission Network News reports that the group, which included 17 women, was taken to the Adi-Nefase military camp near Assab, a notoriously harsh detention center. Open Doors also reports that 25 Christian students from Mai-Nefhi Educational Institution have been released on bail in order to sit for their final exams. They may have been part of a group of students arrested at the beginning of June for "unpatriotic behavior." Sources in the country expect the students to be taken back into custody as soon as their exams have been completed. Eritrea ranks 12th on the Open Doors 2011 World Watch List, a compilation of the top 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the worst.

Egypt Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Christian Re-Converts

Middle East Concern reports that Christians in Egypt won a small victory in court on July 3. Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favor of those seeking to have the religious registration officially changed back to “Christian." This ruling affects people who were registered as “Christian," but whose registration changed to “Muslim." Adults who convert to Islam can change their registration, and a parent's change affects their child's. The ruling stated that presentation of a birth certificate stating religious registration as “Christian” with a current confirmation of faith from the church would be sufficient for the change to be made. However, the ruling seems to leave out Muslims who have converted to Christianity, who have protested the registration laws for years.