Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Survey of Christians in India Sets Off Alarm Bells
- John Paul Put One Step below Sainthood
- Iranian Christians on Trial for 'Activities against the Order'
- Christian Music Tour Was #1 in World
Survey of Christians in India Sets Off Alarm Bells
Compass Direct News reports that an attempt by police in India’s Madhya Pradesh to survey the state’s Christian minority came to light this month and left church leaders calling for a federal investigation into alleged religious profiling. Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council, called for a National Commission for Minorities probe into the survey, which sought data on where Catholics and Protestants live, their economic status, and details of Christian-operated schools, including sources of income and whether they get foreign funding. Police later withdrew the controversial survey after Christian leaders approached state Director General of Police S.K. Rout, who denied any knowledge of it. “We do not believe the police pretext that they want to know the locations to protect the Christians,” Dayal told Compass. “All these questions about funding of churches and missions are absolutely illegal."
John Paul Put One Step Below Sainthood
Religion News Service reports that the late Pope John Paul II, who elevated unprecedented numbers of Catholic saints and blesseds during his 26-year reign, joined those ranks himself on yesterday. He was beatified in Vatican City before a crowd of more than a million pilgrims. Pope Benedict XVI declared his predecessor "blessed" -- the church's highest honor short of sainthood -- to cheers and applause from the crowds filling St. Peter's Square and the broad avenue beyond. A tapestry bearing a photographic image of John Paul was unveiled on the main facade of St. Peter's Basilica as a warm spring sun broke through the city's unseasonably cold and rainy weather. John Paul's beatification is one of the fastest in modern times, coming just six years after his death. Benedict said he chose to act with "reasonable haste," waiving the normal five-year waiting period, because John Paul already exuded the "fragrance of sanctity" when he died in 2005.
Iranian Christians on Trial for 'Activities against the Order'
Eleven members of the Church of Iran will stand trial in the Revolutionary Tribunal of Bandar-Anzali for “activities against the Order" and for drinking alcohol. The charges relate to their involvement in a house church and to taking communion wine. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), The Christians on trial include Pastor Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad and his wife Anahita Khademi, Mahmoud Khosh-Hal and his wife Hava Saadetmend, Fatemah Modir-Nouri, Mehrdad Habibzade, Milad Radef and Behzad Taalipas, and Amir Goldoust, his sister Mina Goldoust, and his grandmother Zainab Bahremend. There has been an increase in official rhetoric against evangelical Christians, which has been accompanied by a wave of arrests in Iran. In January, the governor of Tehran called the evangelical movement “a false, deviant and corrupt sect... placing themselves within the religion of Islam like a parasite and under the cover of Christianity."
Christian Music Tour Was #1 in World
The Winter Jam 2011 Tour Spectacular - a multi-artist tour featuring many of Christian music's biggest names - was the #1 tour in the world for the first quarter of the year, according to Pollstar. WOLRD News Service reports that the event outpaced attendance for all other tours in the first quarter, including U2, Lady Gaga, Brad Paisley and Justin Bieber, according to Pollstar’s 2011 Worldwide First Quarter Ticket Sales “Top 100 Tours” chart. The tour drew a record total audience of 524,239 during stops in 46 markets and featured headliners Newsboys, David Crowder Band, Kutless, Francesca Battistelli, RED, KJ-52, and guest speaker Tony Nolan. “We are grateful and humbled by the response to this year’s Winter Jam that only God Himself could have orchestrated,” said NewSong’s Eddie Carswell, tour founder. “It is amazing to think that nearly 100,000 people made meaningful, life-changing decisions to follow Christ and that over 13,000 made a commitment to assist orphans through our partnership with Holt. To truly impact lives is the reason that Winter Jam was created 16 years ago.”