Religion Today Summaries - May 10, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 10, 2010

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

In today's edition:

  • Nigeria Swears In New, Christian President
  • Evangelist Murdered in India's Bihar State
  • Pakistan: Five Christian Boys Accused of Blasphemy
  • India Urged to End 'Culture of Impunity'

Nigeria Swears In New, Christian President

Mission News Network reports that Nigeria's acting president has officially been sworn in as the new head of state. Goodluck Jonathan replaces elected president Umaru Yar'Adua, who died Wednesday. With Jonathan, the president's powerbase shifts to the mostly-Christian south, whereas Yar'Adua's mandate came from the mostly-Muslim north. Open Doors USA says this power shift could exacerbate tensions in the region. Hundreds of people have died in religious violence between ethnic Muslims and Christians in the country, including an incident in March when three Christian villages were attacked and up to 500 people were killed. Christians have carried out similar attacks on Muslim-majority towns and villages.

Evangelist Murdered in India's Bihar State

Baptist Press reports that an evangelist who helped screen the "JESUS" film in eastern India's Bihar state was brutally murdered May 2. Reported details of the murder vary. The International Christian Concern human rights group reported May 5 that Ravi Murmu and members of his team had completed the screening and started their journeys home. Along the way, the evangelist separated from the rest of the team to take a shortcut home. When he failed to arrive by late evening, a search was organized and his body was found with his right hand severed and deep cuts on his neck and other parts of his body. Robbery apparently was not the motive because the attackers in the incident, which occurred in Laxmanpur, didn't take any of the evangelist's belongings, including his motor bike, cell phone and watch.

Pakistan: Five Christian Boys Accused of Blasphemy

ASSIST News Service reports that Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law continues to be abused by extremists in Pakistan. At least five Christian boys have been forced to leave their homes in the Green Town area of the eastern city of Lahore after they were accused of committing blasphemy. According to Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP), Shoaib Ilyas, Chaman Ashraf, Ashar Masih, Neeta Masih and Sunny were asked by local Muslims to leave the area or else face legal action. Sohail Johnson, chief coordinator of the SLMP, said local Muslims accused the boys of "desecrating" a banner that was inscribed with Quranic verses. Johnson says the accusation was slapped on the boys in question after a dispute between local Christians and Muslims. Johnson had met with Muslim clerics and police officials to defuse tension between the two communities.

India Urged to End 'Culture of Impunity'

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) released a briefing on Friday highlighting the pattern of communal violence against Christians in India. CSW urged that India's culture of impunity be reversed to ensure that inciters and perpetrators of communal violence expect to be brought to justice. The briefing, ‘Communalism, anti-Christian violence and the law', focuses on the aftermath of communal violence in Orissa in 2008, and the "regular, frequent attacks" on Christians concentrated in six other states, typically in the form of well-targeted mob violence. The briefing also calls for the repeal of anti-conversion laws in force in five states, saying they are unnecessary, contrary to international law and have a damaging effect on religious minorities. Additionally, the penalization of Dalits who change religion should also be redressed.