Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- 52 Killed in String of Iraq Bombings, Baghdad Church Targeted
- Growth of Christianity in Iran 'Explosive'
- Tennessee School Board Temporarily Halts Pre-Game Prayers
- Report Says Anti-Semitism on the Rise in Europe
52 Killed in String of Iraq Bombings, Baghdad Church Targeted
The Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Matthew in Baghdad was one of the targets in a string of bombings by Iraqi Muslim extremists Tuesday that killed at least 52, the Christian Post reports. More than 30 bombs were detonated across several cities and towns, injuring an estimated 250 people -- Iraq's bloodiest day in nearly a month. "The goal of [the] attacks was to present a negative image of the security situation in Iraq," a government spokesman said. Army and police forces are frequently targeted in Iraq, where bombings and shootings occur almost daily, and the waning Christian minority has found itself not only caught in the crossfire, but specifically targeted. Increasing persecution, growing even worse since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in December, has reportedly led hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians to flee the country, and the remaining population is believed to be diminishing.
Growth of Christianity in Iran 'Explosive'
The number of Muslims coming to Christ from Islam -- often called Muslim Background Believers or Secret Believers -- is growing faster and faster in Iran, especially among young people, Open Doors USA reports. Forty years ago, an estimated 200 Muslim Background Believers were living in Iran, but today the number is around 370,000. The growth is happening in all regions, but mostly in Iran's larger cities, and the house church movement has triggered many secret meetings. According to Open Doors workers, the growth of Christianity "has everything to do with Iranians getting to know the real face of Islam, the official religion of Iran, and the mistrust of the people toward the government and leaders." Open Doors is using discipleship training to strengthen the Iranian church, and many are also coming to Christ through Christian programming on satellite TV. The government of Iran sees Christianity as a threat, but despite increasing crackdowns in attempts to stop the growth, the network of Iranian Christians has only become stronger.
Tennessee School Board Temporarily Halts Pre-Game Prayers
The town of Lenoir City, Tenn., is suspending prayers before school meetings and football games, CBN News reports. The Lenoir City school board made the decision after receiving complaints from three different groups -- Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Appignani Humanist Legal Center -- who claimed prayers at school functions were unconstitutional. School superintendent Wayne Miller said a long-term decision about the prayers would be made after the school system consulted its attorney.
Report Says Anti-Semitism on the Rise in Europe
Days after a gunman murdered a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, a new study reports widespread anti-Semitism in France and across Europe, the Religion News Service reports. The survey, conducted in January by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, found that 24 percent of the French population holds anti-Semitic views, up from 20 percent in 2009, and that the countries of Hungary, Spain and Poland have "literally off-the-charts" levels of anti-Semitic attitudes. By comparison, an October 2011 survey found that in America, 15 percent of the population holds anti-Semitic views. However, nearly one in five Americans said Jews had too much influence on Wall Street, a significant increase from previous studies.
Publication date: March 23, 2012