Religion Today Summaries - March 22, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 22, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Many Egypt Christians Vote 'No', Fearing Islamists
  • Disaster Pushes Japanese Beyond Secular Thinking
  • Turkey Arrests 20 Allegedly Linked to Malatya Murders
  • Nigeria: Thousands Displaced as Village Attacks Continue


Disaster Pushes Japanese beyond Secular Thinking

The Japanese are a notoriously secular people, paying scant attention to traditional religions and almost wholly ignoring Christianity. But Baptist Press reports that Japan's triple disaster - a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a tsunami and nuclear crisis - is making people return to "prayer walls" at local shrines. "I do not normally come here to pray," said one young woman, who visited a shrine and wrote her prayer request, "but given the disasters, I am not sure what else to do." International Mission Board missionary Gary Fujino hopes the divine dependence doesn't taper off. "They really believe that in themselves they have what they need, which makes it very difficult to share the Gospel" Fujino says. "What we need is for people to be shaken and realize that you need something outside of yourself -- God."

Many Egypt Christians Vote 'No', Fearing Islamists

While Egypt's Christians were happy to see Hosni Mubarak leave, they aren't welcoming a new government with open arms. Reuters reports that many Egyptian Christians say they voted Saturday to reject proposed constitutional amendments in a referendum that would have allowed quick elections. Christians say they fear rushing elections could sweep Islamist groups into power. "I fear the Islamists because they speak in civil slogans that have a religious context, like when one said he believed in a civil Egypt but at the same time no woman or Copt should run for president," said Samuel Wahba, a Coptic doctor. If approved, the amendments would put parliamentary elections on the calendar for late Septembers with a presidential election in December.

Turkey Arrests 20 Allegedly Linked to Malatya Murders

On Friday, authorities in nine different provinces of Turkey arrested 20 people suspected of playing a role in the murder of three Christians in Malatya in 2007. Compass Direct News reports that Zekeriya Oz, chief prosecutor overseeing the investigation, ordered the arrests based on information that linked the suspects to both an anti-government network and to the Malatya murders, Turkish press reported. “This was an operation related to the Malatya Zirve publishing house murders,” Istanbul Chief of Police Chief Huseyin Capkin. “That’s the framework.” A plaintiff attorney in the Malatya murder case, Orhan Kemal Cengiz, told Compass that the names on the list of those arrested were suspects he and his colleagues have been trying to convince the Malatya prosecutor to pursue since the court received a tip in May 2008.

Nigeria: Thousands Displaced as Village Attacks Continue

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that more than 4,000 people have been displaced in a series of nightly attacks by Muslim tribesmen in central Nigeria. The attacks have persisted since March 10 despite the deployment of secruity personnel in the area. At least five Christians have been murdered in the Bauchi state during the violence, and churches report that at least 463 homes and 13 churches have been torched. Local sources attribute the attacks to a group of around 2,000 militants from Niger, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto and other northern Nigerian states. The area has experienced numerous sectarian attacks since 1991, when a disagreement between a Fulani man and a Tsayawa meat seller escalated into violence that killed 400 people.