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Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 2, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 2, 2007

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

  • Lutheran Leader Condemns Prosperity Gospel
  • Millions Mark Start of Holy Week with Palm Sunday
  • Five N.C. Colleges to Sever Baptist Links
  • Iraq: Christian Sisters Slain in Robbery Attempt

Lutheran Leader Condemns Prosperity Gospel

The president of the Lutheran World Federation urged members to resist U.S. evangelists who preach that following Christianity can bring wealth and success, OneNewsNow.com reports. The Rev. Mark Hanson is also presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He urges Lutherans to challenge what he called a heresy being spread worldwide. "We are exporting prosperity-gospel preaching evangelists to your countries who are beckoning Lutherans away from their Lutheran churches." Hanson said the federation must teach true Christianity "rather than some other distortion of the Gospel that we so now export and is pure heresy."

Millions Mark Start of Holy Week with Palm Sunday

The Christian Post reports that believers worldwide began their annual observance of Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday, which highlights the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago. Millions of Christians from Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches carried palm leaves in processions Sunday to recall the event. Palm Sunday, which falls the Sunday before Easter, is the sixth and last Sunday of Lent and the first day of the Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Episcopal Church and most Lutheran churches, palm fronds are blessed outside the church building and a procession enters, singing, re-enacting the entry into Jerusalem.

Five N.C. Colleges to Sever Baptist Links

According to OneNewsNow.com, the last five colleges and universities with ties to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina are preparing to split with the group. The five schools are: Campbell University, Chowan University, Gardner-Webb University, Mars Hill College, and Wingate University. The move is part of a continuing trend where some schools fear conservative Southern Baptist views could limit academic freedom (not to mention enrollment numbers). The article suggests that when the North Carolina convention voted last year to ban gay-friendly churches from their organization, that became part of the process for these colleges to distance themselves further. "The denominations continue to set boundaries that are ever-changing, and it makes it difficult for universities to negotiate," said Bill Leonard, Divinity School dean at Wake Forest University, which broke from the NC Baptist convention years ago.

Iraq: Christian Sisters Slain in Robbery Attempt

The murder of two Christian women in their Kirkuk home this week highlights growing insecurity facing Christians, often targeted for money in war-torn Iraq, Compass Direct News reports. Kirkuk Archbishop Louis Sako said that thieves repeatedly stabbed and strangled lay Christians Fadhila Naoum, 85, and Margaret Naoum, 79, after breaking into their house at 7:30 p.m. on Monday evening (March 26). Though Sako said he believed the murders were motivated only by theft, a police official told The Associated Press that he had ruled out the possibility of attempted robbery. Open Doors, a Christian organization working with suffering Christians around the world, said in a recent release that Muslim extremists have worked to expel Christians from certain cities, but said that most Iraqi Christians are targeted because they own shops and are believed to have money. The brutality of the murders and the lack of evidence of theft have led some to believe that the crime may have had religious overtones.