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Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 3, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 3, 2007

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

  • Evangelicals Transform Christian Unity in Canada
  • Pakistani Prisoners Win Back Jail ‘Church’
  • Hindu Extremists Attack Christians in India
  • Rice's Book “Christ the Lord” to Shoot in Israel this October

Evangelicals Transform Christian Unity in Canada

The increasing political influence of evangelical Christians in Canada is changing the face of Christian unity here, a story in the Anglican Journal reports. Over 50 percent of legislators belonging to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party are evangelical Christians. “They are becoming the mainline and we are becoming the sideline,” says Lois Wilson, former president of the World Council of Churches. Even so, Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, says evangelicals and ecumenicals have co-operated on issues such as poverty reduction campaigns and bio-ethics.

Pakistani Prisoners Win Back Jail ‘Church’

More than 160 Christian prisoners ended a two-day hunger strike last week after authorities in Pakistan’s Punjab province permitted them to resume religious services, a non-governmental organization worker said. Staff members at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Central Jail agreed on March 22 to reopen a laundry room that had served for Christian services until authorities filled it with new inmates earlier this month, Sohail Johnson of Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan (SLMP) told Compass. Adiala Deputy Superintendent Noor ul Haq Hassan denied to Compass Direct News that Christians had been refused access to their worship room or that a hunger strike had taken place, but according to Johnson, Christian inmates had not been able to use the prayer room for more than a week when they began their hunger strike on March 21. He said jail official Saifullah Gondal “wanted to send a message to the Christians that this was not their church or chapel, just a laundry hall,” said Johnson, whose SLMP works with Christian prisoners throughout Punjab.

Hindu Extremists Attack Christians in India

A Christian Aid-supported missionary in the state of Maharashtra reports that persecution of Christians by Hindu extremists has recently increased in his area, Missions Insider reports. In December, native missionary S.B. Pateh and his two sons, along with several other believers from his church congregation, rented a jeep to visit other Christians in outlying areas. The group was returning home after visiting with eight families in a mountainous tribal region, when they were surrounded by a mob of 100 people, led by a Hindu priest, from the same region. The mob assaulted them with sticks and other weapons. The Hindus forced Pateh’s sons to offer sacrifices to their gods, before beating the entire group unconscious. The mob left, believing the Christians to be dead. When police did arrive, instead of prosecuting the violent mob, they reprimanded the believers for not asking permission to enter the village.

Rice's Book “Christ the Lord” to Shoot in Israel this October

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, the motion picture based on Anne Rice’s best-selling novel about Christ’s early years, will begin shooting in Israel this October, says a Religion News Service release. Good News Holdings’ decision to make the film in Israel has the full support of the Israeli government and casting has begun in Israel to find the boy who will play 7-year-old Jesus. A theatrical release is planned for Fall 2008. David Kirkpatrick, co-founder of Good News Holdings, said “It was always important to Anne Rice that we make every effort to be authentic to the cultural context in which Jesus grew up. We felt the best way to match her exhaustive background research on Jesus’ life and times was by shooting the film in Israel.” Rice's novel tells the imagined story of Jesus from his perspective as he and his extended family depart Egypt - where they had been hiding from Herod - to return home to Nazareth.