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Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 24, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 24, 2008

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

  • Eritrean Government Sending Ministers to Military Training Camps
  • Muslim Rioters Attack Christians in Kano, Nigeria
  • Survey Shows Support for Israel Strong among Christians
  • SBC Baptisms: Lowest Since '87

Eritrean Government Sending Ministers to Military Training Camps

ASSIST News Service reports that human rights group International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Eritrean officials are forcefully sending ministers of the Eritrean Orthodox Church to military training camps. ICC reported in a news release that as a result of this policy, Eritrean Orthodox churches throughout the country are losing their leaders. At the end of 2006, the Eritrean government informed churches of its decision to rescind a long-standing exemption of ministers from mandatory military service. The Roman Catholic Church in Eritrea was the only church to oppose this action. ICC reported that top leaders of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, who have been hand-picked by the government, embraced the new policy with open arms. Eritrean officials are now forcibly recruiting church ministers into military service on a wide scale.

Muslim Rioters Attack Christians in Kano, Nigeria

Hundreds of Muslims took to the streets of this northern Nigerian city on Sunday April 20, attacking Christians and their shops and setting vehicles on fire on claims that a Christian had blasphemed Muhammad, Compass Direct News reports. Thousands of Christians were trapped in churches until police dispersed rioters. Fearing that Muslims may attack again, many Christians have relocated to army and police barracks in the city. An as yet unidentified Christian was said to have painted an inscription that disparaged the prophet of Islam.

Survey Shows Support for Israel Strong among Christians

OneNewsNow reports that support for Israel among both liberal and conservative Christians is surprising to Middle East expert Joel Rosenberg. What surprised him most was that "liberal Protestant denominations and Catholics" all had high numbers "within the 75 to 85 percent range all supporting Israel," according to the results of a survey commissioned by Rosenberg. However, on question of the division of Jerusalem, "Evangelicals overwhelmingly believe that Jerusalem should be the united, eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, whereas Catholics and liberal Protestant denominations are more willing to see Jerusalem divided." 65 percent are worried Iran would try to obliterate Israel if they develop nuclear weapons.

SBC Baptisms: Lowest Since '87

According to Baptist Press, the number of people baptized in Southern Baptist churches fell for the third straight year in 2007 to the convention's lowest level since 1987. Although the SBC added 473 new churches and gave more than $1.3 billion to support mission activities around the world, Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, said there's no escaping the fact that Southern Baptists are not reaching as many people for Christ as they once did. According to LifeWay's Annual Church Profile (ACP), baptisms in 2007 dropped nearly 5.5 percent to 345,941, compared to 364,826 in 2006. "This report is truly disheartening," Rainer said. "Total membership showed a slight decline. Baptisms have now declined for three consecutive years and for seven of the last eight years, and are at their lowest level since 1987. Indeed, the total baptisms are among the lowest reported since 1970. We are a denomination that, for the most part, has lost its evangelistic passion."