Religion Today Summaries - June 4, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 4, 2008

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

  • Burma Junta Still Stopping Aid
  • Egypt to Deport Eritrean Refugees 
  • Algeria: Christians Guilty of Evangelizing
  • Baptists Contest Missionary Guidelines

Burma Junta Still Stopping Aid 

According to the Mission News Network, the Myanmar junta has only promised to open up the country to aid. "The latest news that we've all seen in the media is that the country has opened up a bit more in the past week. I have not had any word that we have been able to get people in yet, but prior to that, assuming no one has gotten in, the situation up to that point was that we had people ready to go who were waiting in Thailand. But they could not get visas--the same thing that was holding back relief workers from many other places, many other agencies," said Lane Powell of Operation Mobilisation. OM's medical team is not yet allowed in, in spite of need. "They've already seen that cholera is spreading, dysentery, and of course they're seeing cases of malaria, too. So all of the disease we would expect in that situation are well under way," Powell said.

Egypt to Deport Eritrean Refugees

Egyptian authorities are to begin forced deportations of some 150 Eritrean prisoners currently held in Kanater prison in Cairo within a few days, ASSIST News Service reports. Christian Solidarity Worldwide's information indicates that these detainees, who originally fled from political and religious persecution in Eritrea, are among over 1,000 Eritreans held in Egyptian prisons. CSW says they have been denied access to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt, despite being entitled to the treatment normally afforded to refugees. Their deportations are due to take place despite the fact that the UNHCR has a non-return advisory for Eritrean refugees. If deported, these prisoners will almost certainly face instant imprisonment, possible torture and even execution, CSW says.

Algeria: Christians Guilty of Evangelizing

Compass Direct News reports that an Algerian court gave four Christians suspended sentences and fines today for seeking to convert Muslims to Christianity, a Protestant church leader said. The case is one of several that have sparked local media and French government claims that Algeria is repressing its Christian minority, which numbers 10,000 according to conservative estimates. A court in Tiaret city, 150 miles southwest of Algiers, gave Rachid Muhammad Seghir a six-month suspended sentence and a 200,000-dinar (US$3,282) fine. He was originally charged with “distributing documents to shake the faith of Muslims.” Three other men were given similar but reduced suspended sentences and fines, and two other men were acquitted.

Baptists Contest Missionary Guidelines

The Christian Post reports that 37 former Southern Baptist missionaries, former International Mission Board trustees and Southern Baptist pastors have signed a statement expressing their "strong" disagreement with a 2005 decision by the IMB trustees excludes from mission work candidates who speak in tongues, whether in public or private, and those not baptized by a proper administrator or fellow Baptist who believes in eternal security. "We are alarmed at the reports of the rejection of otherwise worthy candidates and reports of individuals who will now not even bother to apply to their own denomination’s missions organization, lest these guidelines disqualify them," the statement, which was released Monday, says. Those signing argue the IMB's guidelines wander "far beyond the parameters" set by the Southern Baptist Convention's statement of faith.