Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 28, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 28, 2008

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

  • California Homeschooling Decision Vacated
  • Vietnam Continues to Force Degar Montagnard Catholics to Renounce Faith
  • Religious Leaders Welcome Saudi Proposal
  • Church Attacked In Pakistan

California Homeschooling Decision Vacated

According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, on March 25, the California Court of Appeal granted a motion for rehearing in the the controversial decision which purported to ban all homeschooling in that state unless the parents held a teaching license qualifying them to teach in public schools. The automatic effect of granting this motion is that the prior opinion is vacated and is no longer binding on any one, including the parties in the case. “This is a great first step,” said Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA. “We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority."

Vietnam Continues to Force Degar Montagnard Catholics to Renounce Faith

A Montagnard Degar Catholic named Dinh Plok last month had his home, his farmlands and all his belongings including his motorcycle confiscated by the Vietnamese government because he refused to sign a document renouncing his Christian faith, ASSIST News Service reports. Plok lived on his farm with his family and many of his relatives, who all depended on the farm for their sustenance and livelihood. Plok converted to Catholicism in 2007. "Shortly after, his whole family, including those living under his roof as well as many of his wife’s relatives, followed his lead and also converted to Catholicism. They became the most devoted Christians in the village of Ploi Kuk Tu. The Vietnamese government became nervous that these people would cause Catholicism to spread," says a Montagnard Foundation report. A Foundation spokesman says: "Vietnam desires for villagers to worship Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese Communist Party as their god. This is why they only allow Degar Montagnards to join certain churches, which they control and oversee."

Religious Leaders Welcome Saudi Proposal

The Associated Press reports that several Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders reacted warmly to a proposal for dialogue among the religions by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The leaders welcomed Abdullah's overture as a major development in interfaith relations. Some specifics remain unclear, including whether Israelis could take part. "The idea is to ask representatives of all monotheistic religions to sit together with their brothers in faith and sincerity to all religions as we all believe in the same God," the king said Monday night in Riyadh. "It was long overdue," said Michael Cromartie, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which monitors religious freedom globally and makes policy recommendations. "I don't care who you put in the room — the fact they're having the conversation can only help."

Church Attacked In Pakistan

In an attempt to grab the land where a church stands now, three Muslim men allegedly incited and led a Muslim mob to attack a church on Tuesday, March 18, in Gajrakh, a Christian neighborhood in the Pakistani city of Gujranwala, during the Holy Week. ASSIST News Service reports this prompted angry Christians to stage a protest demonstration on March 19 against the incident, according to International Christian Concern. Earlier, a Christian man, Zahid Salamat was executed in Pakistani city of Multan during Lent on March 12 for murdering a 9 year old Muslim minor, Muhammad Adnan. The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and some other Christian rights groups had called for postponement of Zahid's execution but government went ahead with hanging Zahid during Lent. The latest church attack has been carried out by Muslim mob to grab the church property, but Pakistani Christians had been fearing attacks on churches, missionary schools and other church properties since staging of the anti-cartoon protests in Pakistan last month following reprinting of sacrilegious caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by some western newspapers.