Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 30, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 30, 2006

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

  • Three Controversial Church Leaders Executed Secretly in China
  • Kidnappers Free Iraqi Priest
  • Safe Return of Darfur Christian Relief Worker
  • Legal Group Tells IRS to Back Off Intimidating Churches

Three Controversial Church Leaders Executed Secretly in China

China Aid Association (CAA) has said that it has learned that three controversial church leaders in China were executed secretly sometime last week, ASSIST News Service reports. “According to Mr. Li Maoxing’s wife, she was asked by the Intermediate Court of Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang province at 2:30pm on November 28 (Beijing time) to collect her husband’s ashes at the court as soon as possible,” said a CAA spokesperson. “Also, according to attorney Li Heping who was the defense lawyer for Mr. Xu Shuangfu, the founder of the Three Grade Servant church group, Mr. Xu, Mr. Li Maoxing and Mr. Wang Jun were already executed secretly sometime last week. “Neither of their attorneys nor any of their relatives was informed in advance about the execution. The Defense team for the three executed argued that there is no evidence to prove Xu and the other two church leaders were directly involved or took part in organizing and abetting the murder of the members of the Eastern Lightening religious group.”

Kidnappers Free Iraqi Priest

Compass Direct News reports that anonymous kidnappers have released a Chaldean Catholic priest in Baghdad, nine days after he was last seen celebrating mass in his Baghdad parish. The captors dropped Father Douglas Yousef Al-Bazy on a street near Baghdad’s Naariya district at 7:30 p.m., Baghdad Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Abouna told Compass from Baghdad. The bishop said that Al-Bazy was feeling “strong” emotionally and that he planned to carry on in his work as parish priest of St. Elijah’s Church in Baghdad’s Naariya district. “I know that the prayers of people saved me,” Al-Bazy told Abouna during their meeting in the hospital.

Safe Return of Darfur Christian Relief Worker

A relief worker who was abducted while delivering assistance in Darfur, Sudan, returned safely on Friday (November 24, 2006), 48 hours after armed militia had stopped his vehicle while he was returning from a food distribution center, ASSIST News Service reports. According to a story posted on the Ekklesia website in the UK, Ahmed Abaker, a local driver for a Darfur relief consortium was taken at gun point in Shaba, West Darfur. He turned up in Sanidadi at approximately 7 am Friday morning. "It is with great relief that I can inform you that our driver, Ahmed, has been released,” declared Nick Armstrong, program coordinator for the consortium. “He appears to be very tired after walking some distance, but seems thankfully unharmed.”

Legal Group Tells IRS to Back Off Intimidating Churches

AgapePress reports that a religious liberties group says it has had enough of the Internal Revenue Service bullying pastors, and wants those pastors and churches to know that the U.S. Constitution trumps IRS regulations about what can and can't be said from the pulpit. The Washington, DC-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty says the First Amendment takes precedence over regulations established by the IRS concerning political speech from the pulpit of a house of worship. Anthony Picarello, vice president and general counsel for the Becket Fund, says the first mistake most churches make when they are confronted with an IRS investigation is keeping quiet about it. He recommends they go public. "Make sure that the world knows about what's going on," he suggests. "I think that's one of the best approaches that a church can take when it's confronted with this sort of investigation."