Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 12, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 12, 2008

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

  • Chinese Authorities Detain Christian Activist
  • India: Gospel for Asia Missionaries Released
  • Eritrea Shuts Christian Students into Shipping Containers
  • Episcopal Church to Apologize for Slavery

Chinese Authorities Detain Christian Activist

Security agents yesterday seized Christian activist and house church pastor Hua Huiqi on his way to a service at the government-approved Kuanjie Protestant Church in Beijing, where U.S. President George Bush was scheduled to appear, says Compass Direct News. Bush later attended the service before meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao to discuss human rights concerns, including religious freedom. Hua reportedly escaped. According to a report from The Associated Press, authorities have arrested and beaten Hua several times in recent years because of his religious activities. Hua also gained a reputation as an activist when he fought against a development project that led to the demolition of his home in 2001. In recent months, as part of a “clean-up” operation in Beijing, authorities forced him to attend services at the Kuanjie church instead, which is registered with the official Three Self Patriotic Movement.

India: Gospel for Asia Missionaries Released

Assist News reports that four Gospel for Asia missionaries being held in a Karnataka, India, jail were released Friday after spending more than a week there. They are now being taken to a hospital for medical treatment. The missionaries, Yohan Samuel, Raj Lohra, Nanji Bir and Shobha Joshi*, were arrested July 31 and charged with attempting to force people to convert to Christianity and with “offending the sentiments of the people.” They were granted bail on Tuesday after several days of negotiations between GFA leaders and the court. Being arrested for sharing the Gospel is not uncommon for Gospel for Asia missionaries. Several Indian states have anti-conversion laws aimed specifically at Christians and Muslims. In other places, missionaries are charged with crimes unrelated to their work in sharing the Gospel. At least two GFA missionaries are serving long-term prison sentences after being charged with crimes they did not commit.

Eritrea Shuts Christian Students into Shipping Containers

Authorities on Tuesday (August 5) locked up eight high school students at a military training school in metal shipping containers for objecting to the burning of hundreds of Bibles, sources told Compass Direct News. The eight male students from the Sawa Defense Training Centre in Sawa were incarcerated after military authorities confiscated more than 1,500 personal Bibles from new students arriving for the academic year. “During the time that the Bibles were set on fire, the chief commander of Sawa, Col. Debesai Ghide, gave a warning to all the students by telling them that Sawa is a place of patriotism, not a place for ‘Pentes’ [Pentecostals],’” said one source. Reading the Bible privately, discussing the Christian faith with other students and praying before or after meals alone or in groups is forbidden at the center, the source said.

Episcopal Church to Apologize for Slavery

Continuing its efforts to address a practice some members call "a stain on the church," the Episcopal Church will hold a "Day of Repentance" to publicly apologize for its involvement in the slave trade. Religion News Service reports the ceremony, mandated by a 2006 resolution at the church's General Convention, will take place Oct. 3-4 in Philadelphia. "We hope to set a model for other denominations about how to face this dark, tragic part of our history because we believe that only when you repent can you move on," said Jayne Oasin, program officer for the church's Anti-Racism and Gender Equality program.