Religion Today Summaries - April 18, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 18, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Police Arrest Pastor of Megachurch in China
  • 7th Circuit Court Throws Out National Day of Prayer Lawsuit
  • Pope Appeals to China over Naming of Bishops
  • Iran Forces Christians Make to Televised 'Confessions'


Police Arrest Pastor of Megachurch in China

Chinese police did not allow members of a Beijing church to attempt a second outdoor church service yesterday, but arrested the senior pastor and at least 47 others. China Aid reports that Jin Tianming, who founded the 1,000-member Shouwang Church in the 1990s, was detained on Saturday and released; he and other church leaders were again detained or placed under house arrest on Sunday. The unregistered church says its services have no political motive, but are a necessity. Authorities allegedly pressured a landlord to withhold the keys after the church bought a $4 million building, and the church had not permit to worship elsewhere. “We urge the Chinese government to exercise restraint and refrain from using violence that would further escalate the conflict with peaceful Shouwang worshippers who ask for nothing more than simply to exercise their right to religious freedom,” said China Aid founder and president Bob Fu.

7th Circuit Court Throws Out National Day of Prayer Lawsuit

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a lawsuit that challenged the National Day of Prayer (NDP) as unconstitutional, WORLD News Service reports. CitizenLink and more than two dozen other pro-family groups had signed on to a “friend-of-the-court” brief in support of NDP. The court overturned the April 2010 ruling by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, for the Western District of Wisconsin, that NDP violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of atheists, originally sued then-President George W. Bush and others. The 7th Circuit wrote Thursday, “Plaintiffs have not altered their conduct one whit or incurred any cost in time or money. All they have is disagreement. But ... a feeling of alienation cannot suffice as injury.”

Pope Appeals to China over Naming of Bishops

Religion News Service reports that the Vatican on Thursday lamented China's interference with the Roman Catholic Church, and reaffirmed Pope Benedict XVI's willingness to negotiate with Beijing on the appointment of bishops. A message to Chinese Catholics, published by the pope's special commission on China, noted the "sad episode" of a bishop in the northeastern city of Chengde who was ordained without the Vatican's consent last November. For half a century, Chinese Catholics have been divided between a state-run church independent of the Vatican and an "underground" church of Catholics loyal to the pope. The "official" church, supervised by the Catholic Patriotic Association, has claimed 5 million members; the total number of Chinese Catholics is estimated at 12 million to 15 million. Thursday's message reiterated Benedict's 2007 call for an agreement that would allow the Vatican to approve bishops appointed by Beijing.

Iran Forces Christians Make to Televised 'Confessions'

The intelligence-gathering arm of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran has reportedly followed Christian refugees out of the country in order to collect information that may trap other believers still in Iran. According to the Farsi Christian News Network, agents pose as refugees to gather names and addresses. That information can be used to denounce and manipulate Christians into giving televised "confessions" of their involvement in criminal activities or with Israel. Detainees are under immense physical and psychological pressure to comply with the appearance of a trial on TV and admit their allegedly treasonous behavior.