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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 3, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 3, 2009

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

  • China: Officials Abolish House Church in Sichuan
  • Christians Increasingly Vulnerable in ‘Secular’ Nepal
  • Violence Again Erupts in Egypt over Worship Site
  • IRS Ends Investigation of 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' Church

China: Officials Abolish House Church in Sichuan

Christian News Wire reports that Chinese authorities abolished the Christian Church of Huaguan Town, a house church in the remote Sichuan province on June 29. Three church members were arrested at the time. Since then, house church members have faced heavy persecution. The church service started in 2002 in a member's house, and has been gathering at a church building built with the help of Christians from Zhejiang province since August 2006. On March 23, 2009 the church was raided by six Public Security Bureau (PSB) and government officers who confiscated both the property of the church and a check with more than 10,000 yuan of the believers' offerings. All three church members have been released after serving several days of administrative detention.

Christians Increasingly Vulnerable in ‘Secular’ Nepal

Compass Direct News reports that three years after a pro-democracy movement led to the proclamation of Nepal as a secular state, some Christians say they are in greater peril than ever. They are now being targeted by militant Hindu organizations that blame the church for the abolition of Hinduism as the state religion and the end of monarchy. Since May, when the Nepal Defense Army (NDA) – which claims links with militant Hindu organizations – struck one of Kathmandu valley’s largest churches, the group has threatened to drive all Christians from the country. The Rev. Pius Perumana says he has received at least five threatening calls from the Hindu supremist leader Ram Prasad Mainali, who ordered him to close all Christian organizations and leave Nepal, he said. The NDA leader has also been calling Protestant pastors, demanding money.

Violence Again Erupts in Egypt over Worship Site

Compass Direct News reports that the recent eruption of sectarian violence in Egypt’s Minya province continued last week. Local Christians again faced harsh reprisals from Muslims for trying to convert a building into a worship facility. On July 24 security forces in the village of Hawasliya were able to prevent a crowd of Muslims, which numbered in the hundreds according to some reports, from torching the building. But the mob succeeded in setting fire to four neighboring stables, killing sheep and cows belonging to Copts. During the melee two Copts, including an elderly woman, were wounded. Both received hospital treatment. “When Muslims see that Christians are making a church, they get upset about it,” said Teresa Kamal, a local journalist. “Why are people full of hate like this? Something has happened to radicalize the people.”

IRS Ends Investigation of 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' Church

Religion News Service reports that a Minnesota church that challenged a ban on politicking from the pulpit is no longer under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service.  Warroad Community Church in Warroad, Minn., received a July 7 letter from the IRS saying the probe was closed due to a procedural matter. The letter added, however, that it "may commence a future inquiry." The church was one of 33 that participated in the challenge last September, and sent copies of sermons to the IRS, said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund. His Arizona-based conservative Christian law firm hoped their actions -- which included support or opposition of political candidates-- would prompt IRS scrutiny and lead to a legal challenge of rules that date to 1954.