Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 17, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 17, 2008

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

Dalai Lama Calls for International Probe into China’s Tibet Crackdown
Besieged Iraqi Christians Need A Safe Haven, Supporters Say
Hindu Extremists in India Forcibly ‘Re-Convert’ Christians
Christian Filmmakers to Receive the World's Largest Cash Prize


Dalai Lama Calls for International Probe into China’s Tibet Crackdown

ASSIST News reports that the Dalai Lama on Sunday called for an international investigation into China's crackdown against protesters in Tibet, which he said is facing a "cultural genocide" and where his exiled government said 80 people were killed in the violence. According to an Associated Press (AP) report by Tini Tran, the demonstrations were the fiercest challenge to Beijing's rule in the region in nearly two decades, leading to sympathy protests elsewhere and embarrassing China ahead of the Olympic Games. In the report, Tran says that along with 80 killed, some 72 people were injured in the protests, according to Thubten Samphel, a spokesman for the exiles. He said the figures were confirmed by multiple sources inside Tibet who had counted corpses. Hong Kong Cable TV reported some 200 military vehicles, carrying 40 to 60 armed soldiers each, drove into the city center of Lhasa on Sunday. The Tibetan spiritual leader, speaking in Dharmsala, the north Indian hill town where Tibet's government-in-exile is based, said "Some respected international organization can find out what the situation is in Tibet and what is the cause." "Whether the (Chinese) government there admits or not, there is a problem. There is an ancient cultural heritage that is facing serious danger," the Dalai Lama said. "Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place."

Besieged Iraqi Christians Need A Safe Haven, Supporters Say

The best thing the church worldwide can do for Iraq's beleaguered Christians is support a push for a secure province for the community, an activist campaigning for autonomy for Iraq's ethnic Assyrians told CNSNews Friday. A province in the north of the country -- the original homeland of Assyrians is a rural area near Mosul known as the Nineveh plain -- would provide the protection needed to persuade those many Christians who have left Iraq to return home, said Ken Joseph. Joseph, an ethnic Assyrian, commented after the body of an archbishop was found in Mosul on Thursday, less than two weeks after gunmen abducted him at his church and killed three men with him. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blamed al-Qaeda and said his government was committed to protecting Christians. Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, is the most senior Iraqi Christian to have been killed in what many believe is a concerted effort by Islamic extremists to drive Christians, a mere three percent of the population, from the country. Iraqi Christians are being targeted by jihadists who "seek to drive them from their ancestral homes and create a pure Islamic caliphate," said Faith McConnell, director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy's religious liberty programs. She called on American Christians to stand up for the church in Iraq, and said the U.S. government must acknowledge that Iraqi Christians were being singled out and must be protected.

Hindu Extremists in India Forcibly ‘Re-Convert’ Christians

According to COMPASS Direct, Hindu extremists recently carried out a well-planned scheme to lure to a temple and forcibly convert scores of Christians from villages around this capital city of Himachal Pradesh state. Offering money, making threats, or leading the Christians to believe they were going to government offices for official paperwork, Hindu extremists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on February 27 lured the believers to the Satyanarayan Temple in the heart of Rampur Bushar. At the temple, a haranguing speaker and others pressured about 200 people to re-convert, forcing many of them to participate in rituals and purification ceremonies. Ramlal Kanol, a blind man who has a healing and preaching ministry in Bhutti village, said four men came to his house on February 26, first offering him money to go with them, then threatening to imprison and fine him if he didn’t. “They threatened me, asking me to ‘Continue your work with the poor and healing the sick, but in the name of Ram, not Christ,’” he said. Local media later termed the coercive conversion event “returning home.”

Christian Filmmakers to Receive the World's Largest Cash Prize

On March 10, The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) unveiled details about awarding a $101,000 cash prize--the single largest cash prize in the world awarded by a film festival--to the winner of its “Best in Show” Jubliee Award. Doug Phillips, founder of the SAICFF, made the announcement to press, filmmakers and broadcast professional attending the National Religious Broadcasters in Nashville, TN. Stephen Kendrick, producer and co-writer of "Facing the Giants," introduced Phillips during the ceremony. “What this announcement means is that Christian filmmaking will no longer be on the backburner, but in the forefront of the independent film movement,” remarked Phillips.


 

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