Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 31, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 31, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Muslims Killing Christians Door-to-Door in Northern Nigeria
  • Egyptian Christians Threatened, Blamed by Islamists for Voting
  • Survey: Most Southern Baptist Pastors Favor Black Denominational Leader
  • 1,500-Member Chinese House Church Asked to Halt Services


Muslims Killing Christians Door-to-Door in Northern Nigeria

Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has raised the alarm over silent and unreported killings of Christians in the northern part of the country, according to As violence against Christians by the Islamist group Boko Haram continues to escalate, Oritsejafor called on CAN leaders across the nation to organize times of prayers and fasting, adding that it was imperative for Christians to be security-conscious at all times. Oritsejafor said a pastor in Maiduguri had contacted him complaining that the "killing is going on from door to door, shop to shop, church to church. ... But these things are no longer heard on television. Nobody talks about it. It is only when police station is burnt or bomb explosion that catches people's attention." Oritsejafor declared June 16 as a special day of prayer and fasting for Nigeria.

Egyptian Christians Threatened, Blamed by Islamists for Voting

The official results of the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections are in, and the run-off will be between Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy and independent candidate Ahmad Shafik, former president Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister. ASSIST News Service reports that many Islamists, fearing Shafik if he comes to power -- especially after he vowed to bring back order and security within one month of his election -- are blaming Coptic Christians for voting for him and bringing him to second place. Copts have been accused of being "traitors" and "anti-revolutionary" for voting to bring back the old regime. "These accusations are part of a terror and intimidation campaign to prevent them from voting again for Shafik, or even boycotting the elections altogether, which would be the same as voting for Morsy," said Egyptian writer Saad Namnam. Coptic human rights lawyer Athanasious Williams says that regardless of who wins the election, persecution of Christians will continue in Egypt -- the question is just how bad it will be. "I am expecting the worst in all cases," he said. "If the Islamists take over, we will be like Iran, and they will enforce sharia law, and there will be no freedom of religion. There will be no freedoms of any kind. ... If Shafik takes over, it will be the same way it was before."

Survey: Most Southern Baptist Pastors Favor Black Denominational Leader

A majority of Southern Baptist pastors surveyed said they think it would be good for the nation's largest Protestant denomination to have an African-American leader, the Religion News Service reports. Six in 10 pastors responding to a LifeWay Research survey said they agree with the statement "Without  to any individual, I think it would be a good thing to have an African-American as president of the Southern Baptist Convention." Ten percent disagreed and 29 percent said they did not have an opinion. Of those who had an opinion, 86 percent agreed with the statement. Members of the Southern Baptist Convention are poised to elect Fred Luter, a New Orleans pastor, as their first African-American president in June. Ed Stetzer, president of SBC-affiliated LifeWay Research, said the question was asked to learn pastors' views on the expected vote, though the poll did not mention Luter. "We are still a predominantly Anglo denomination, so it is particularly encouraging to see the openness and enthusiasm for an African-American SBC president," Stetzer said. He thinks the almost 30 percent who did not state an opinion -- and some of those in disagreement -- may reflect pastors who think race should not play a role in SBC leadership selection.

1,500-Member Chinese House Church Asked to Halt Services

Authorities in China's southwestern province of Sichuan have asked a large family-based house church to halt its activities, Radio Free Asia reports. "The authorities have asked us to end our family church congregations, calling our gatherings 'illegal,'" said Pastor Li, leader of the 1,500-member church based in the Qili township of Sichuan's Langzhong city. "They ... still haven't taken direct action against us, but this has worried churchgoers." Chinese authorities have recently engaged in a three-phase campaign to eradicate Protestant house churches, as detailed in a government document released late last year. In the first phase, from January through June of 2012, local authorities were ordered to conduct investigations of all house churches and create dossiers on each of them. In phase two, for the following two to three years, authorities are ordered to strongly encourage unregistered churches to affiliate with government-approved churches; then, in phase three, to be completed within 10 years, churches refusing to comply will be shut down. Officials also plan to ban the words "house church" and replace the term with "house gatherings" -- a term that would refer to groups meeting in government-approved sites.

Publication date: May 31, 2012