Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- 'Anti-Conversion' Law Takes Effect in Fifth State in India
- Archbishop Leads Zimbabwe Protest
- Indonesian Christians Meeting in Malls on Sunday Mornings
- J.J. Packer to Leave Anglican Church over Homosexual Ordination
'Anti-Conversion' Law Takes Effect in Fifth State in India
The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat state has implemented an “anti-conversion” law passed in 2003, increasing Christians’ fears that it will open the door to false accusations by Hindu extremists. India’s Freedom of Religion Acts, referred to as anti-conversion laws, are supposed to curb religious conversions made by “force,” “fraud” or “allurement.” But Christians and rights groups say that in reality Hindu nationalists invoke them to harass Christian workers with spurious arrests and incarcerations. Rules of implementation under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act of 2003 were framed on April 1, The Times of India reported, adding that those convicted of “forced” conversion could receive up to three years in jail. Christian leaders said such legislation also has a negative social impact. “Christian workers are prevented from reaching out to the needy, who too will continue to suffer,” said the Rev. Dr. Dominic Emmanuel, spokesman of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, told Compass Direct News.
Archbishop Leads Zimbabwe Protest
ASSIST News Service reports that Britain’s Archbishop of York has urged members of Zimbabwe's security forces not to prop up President Robert Mugabe's regime. There has been a month of deadlock in Zimbabwe following disputed elections. Dr. John Sentamu, one of the most senior members of the Anglican church, is leading a day of fasting and prayer in support of the people of Zimbabwe. According to the BBC, he urged the army and police not to “terrorize the ordinary citizens.” The BBC reported that in Dec. 2007, Sentamu cut up his clerical collar on television and said he would not replace it until Mugabe was out of office. Sentamu called on the public to join him in prayer for the country. He told the BBC, “My plea, really to the army and to the police, is very simple. Your job is not to prop up a government that actually lacks legitimacy, but to protect every citizen of Zimbabwe. And if Mugabe has lost the election, for heaven's sake don't prop him up... As a Christian community we must all stand together with our brothers and sisters living under the tyranny of Mugabe and pray that they will find deliverance.”
Indonesian Christians Meeting in Malls on Sunday Mornings
According to a BBC News report, a growing number of Indonesian Christians are meeting in malls and storefronts as they seek out more discreet places to worship amidst persecution from groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). In West Java, eerily empty shopping malls might be home to as many as 10 Christian congregations. Off the record the groups admit they meet where they do to avoid intimidation by Muslim groups. More than 100 churches have faced attack or intimidation in the past two years. Church leaders allege the FPI is forcing churches to close through violence and intimidation. According to the FPI, the issues are not about religion, but about the fact that only 20 percent of the Churches in this province have an official permit to hold religious services. The Christians believe it's not only about the permits, but about being Christian.
J.J. Packer to Leave Anglican Church over Homosexual Ordination
A story in the Vancouver Sun states that one of the world's most famous evangelical theologians - James Packer - has quit the Anglican Church of Canada because he believes many of its bishops are "arguably heretical" for adhering to "poisonous liberalism." Packer, recently named by Time magazine as one of the planet's 25 most influential evangelicals, said he hesitated before using the harsh terms to describe the Anglican bishops, but believed he must do so in the name of truth. Packer said he and 10 other Anglican clergy in British Columbia left the denomination to operate under the authority of a South American Anglican archbishop because they felt they were being "starved out and worn down." Packer, 81, said he can no longer serve under Vancouver-area Bishop Michael Ingham, who in 2002 sanctioned a diocesan vote that eventually permitted the blessing of same-sex couples at eight out of 67 parishes. "He is a bishop who appears heretical," Packer said.