Religion Today Summaries - June 14, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 14, 2006

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

  • China Rejects US Criticisms on Religious Freedom
  • Iranian Convert Pastor Released on Bail
  • Preacher Murdered in Andhra Pradesh, India
  • Older Folk in Churches Under-used

China Rejects US Criticisms on Religious Freedom

China dismissed U.S. resolutions criticizing it for religious persecution on Tuesday, saying it was based on "groundless accusations" and constituted interference in its internal affairs, Reuters reports. "Chinese citizens enjoy full and broad freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. "We advise some in the United States Congress to pay more attention their own problems and think about how to resolve their own human rights issues." Congress' criticism followed President Bush's attendance of a Christian service in Beijing in November, hosting of Chinese Christian dissidents at the White House in May, and Pope Benedict's public censure of China last month for installing bishops without the Holy See's approval.

Iranian Convert Pastor Released on Bail

A convert Christian jailed six weeks ago in northern Iran was released last night and reunited with his family. The family of Ali Kaboli, 51, continued to decline comment on the reason for the long-time Protestant believer’s arrest or any conditions of his June 12 release by police authorities in his home city of Gorgan. But sources told Compass Direct a hefty bail was posted to the court for Kaboli’s release, indicating that a formal case could be pending against him. Kaboli was arrested without explanation on May 2 from his carpenter’s workshop in Gorgan. A former Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager, Kaboli hosted house church meetings in his home and traveled in the Caspian Sea region as an itinerant evangelist. Under Iran’s strict apostasy laws, Kaboli could face the death penalty for converting to Christianity 35 years ago.

Preacher Murdered in Andhra Pradesh, India

The body of Prem Kumar, a 67-year-old preacher from the Church of South India, was found last Thursday (June 8) in a forest in Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh state, Compass Direct reports. A young man approached Kumar early Thursday morning requesting that he hold a prayer meeting in Rampur Thanda village later that day. Though suspicious, Kumar agreed. When he arrived at the pick-up point, strangers were waiting. Kumar phoned his son and asked him to call frequently. Kumar’s cell phone went dead at about 11 a.m. Local authorities denied any religious motive, saying personal rivalry was the most likely reason for the murder. Kumar’s son, however, said his father had no enemies and strongly suspected Hindu extremists. Andhra Pradesh state is ruled by the Congress Party, with Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, a Christian, as the chief minister. Religious tensions have been high in the state, with Hindu extremists accusing Reddy of giving a free hand to Christian missionaries.

Older Folk in Churches Under-used

There’s a big pool of mature people sitting in churches who don’t realize how much more they could contribute if they received the right sort of training, according to Fraser Campbell, former senior pastor of Papanui North Baptist Church in New Zealand. According to ASSIST News Service, Mr. Campbell is now engaged in urban missions. “I have observed that there are two stages in adult life. In the early stage you are too busy with success – you have to pay the mortgage off, raise kids, that exhausting first 20 years of your adult life. Later on, I notice Christians becoming more and more concerned that having paid off the mortgage or whatever they are wanting to be significant. They realise this is a time when they can bring experience, knowledge and skills to a missionary task and they probably don’t know how. Probably the avenues the typical church offers are limited. But Praxis [a diploma course that began as a means to train youth for engaging the community] can open them up to the whole mission field."