Religion Today Summaries - June 25, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 25, 2007

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

  • Fate of Middle Eastern Christians Depends on Peace
  • Indonesia: Muslim Radicals Threaten House Churches
  • Obama Lashes Out at Some " Christian Right" Leaders
  • Pastor: Black Churches Must Aid Family Values

Fate of Middle Eastern Christians Depends on Peace

An AsiaNews report on Spero News states: "The fate of Christians in the Middle East is in fact closely related to the lack of peace and security in the region. Palestinian Christians are escaping overseas; first of all because of Israel’s unbearable military occupation, but also because of widespread anarchy in their cities and the lack of future for their children. To that extent they share the same fate with many Palestinian Muslims — only incidentally are they affected as Christians. The same is true for Iraq’s Christians. Far from viewing Saddam Hussein’s regime as a mythical era of peace for Christians — under the late dictator’s rule Christian schools were banned and Christians were not allowed to give Christian names to their children — the problem now is of a different order... and not simply one of tensions between Christians and Muslims. The main difference is the growth of fundamentalism, a trend reinforced by the failure of foreign and Iraqi troops to ensure security and controls, and by the deafness of a powerless government towards the demands of the population (Christians, Sunnis or Shi’as) for order and democracy."

Indonesia: Muslim Radicals Threaten House Churches

According to Compass Direct News, Muslim extremists demonstrating on June 14 in West Java threatened to close down churches operating in private homes, and a pastor on Sunday June 17 received an anonymous letter promising to destroy his home if it is “still functioning as a church.” The protest and threats followed two attacks on churches in West Java in early June. Some 150 protestors from the Mosque Movement Front (FPM) and the Anti-Apostasy Alliance joined the mid-June march, The Jakarta Post reported on June 15. By law, Indonesian church groups must have a worship permit – but strict terms of a Joint Ministerial Decree revised last year make it virtually impossible to obtain one. At the close of the June 14 march, FPM head Suryana Nur Fatwa warned officials that if they failed to close down illegal churches, FPM would take matters into its own hands: “Every violator must stop their activities or the FPM will be forced to close them down.”

Obama Lashes Out at Some "Christian Right" Leaders

OneNewsNow.com reports that Senator Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division. "Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and faith started being used to drive us apart," Obama reportedly told the national meeting of the United Church of Christ. "Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us. At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design... I don't know what Bible they're reading, but it doesn't jibe with my version."

Pastor: Black Churches Must Aid Family Values

According to an AP story, a black Baptist leader is urging black churches to set goals for reducing by 25 percent the rate of black divorce, teen pregnancy, illiteracy, murder and HIV infection by 2012. The Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr.'s Save the Family Now Initiative is also calling for an increase in the adoption of black foster children. The initiative was launched last week before more than 45,000 delegates of the National Baptist Convention USA at the group's annual Congress of Christian Education in St. Louis. Holmes said it was time for black clergy to lead a movement, not unlike the fight for civil rights 40 years ago.

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