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Religion Today Summaries - August 25, 2011

Religion Today Summaries - August 25, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Fairness Doctrine Finally Eliminated
  • House Church Leaders in Inner Mongolia Criminally Detained
  • Muslim Friendliness, Hospitality Experienced by U.S. Students
  • Church Building in North Sudan in Ruins as Hostilities Grow


Fairness Doctrine Finally Eliminated

The Fairness Doctrine has been officially removed from the Code of Federal Regulations by the FCC, a decision applauded by the National Religious Broadcasters. "The FCC has called the Fairness Doctrine an 'outdated and obsolete' regulation, and we wholeheartedly concur," said Dr. Frank Wright, NRB President & CEO. "In fact, for the last eight years, NRB has been actively warning Congress that the Fairness Doctrine was not dead because it was still 'on the books.' We are delighted that FCC Chairman Genachowski has followed-through on his promise to fully eliminate this pernicious rule, which enabled the FCC to compel broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints on controversial issues that the government decided to be of public importance."

House Church Leaders in Inner Mongolia Criminally Detained

ASSIST News Service reports that 15 house church leaders from two remote regions of China have been in detention since mid-July. During this period local police have tried to extort money from their families with promises of their release once the money has been paid, and threats of labor camp sentences or criminal prosecution if it is not. ChinaAid said the incident began at 10 a.m. on July 26, when dozens of local police and officers of the Domestic Security Protection Department entered a meeting in the city of Wuhai. There more than 20 church leaders from Wuhai and Shizuishan were gathered to plan summer church activities. ChinaAid said police surrounded the meeting site and arrested 21 people. They also confiscated everything at the meeting site. The 21 detainees were later criminally detained on suspicion of “using a cult organization to undermine national law enforcement.” Six elderly detainees were found to be in poor health and released. The remaining 15 were held for 15 days, after which the Public Security Bureau notified the families that their case had already been sent to the prosecutor’s office. The families were told that if they raised 50,000 yuan (US$ 7800), the detainees would be released. But when the families delivered the money to the prosecutor’s office, the case was sent back to the Public Security Bureau.

Muslim Friendliness, Hospitality Experienced by U.S. Students

Seven Southern Baptist students from the U.S. partnered with Christian workers during a mission project in southern Africa in late July, Baptist Press reports. 24-year-old Jordan Smyth said the last thing he expected was to spend a week listening while others explained their own beliefs, and he definitely didn't expect to be on the receiving end of so much hospitality, service and love. "You usually go on trips expecting to make a difference," Smyth said. "I came here kind of prideful, but I became a learner." Smyth joined the workers in learning and listening to Muslims from southern Asia and East Africa who, for one reason or another, have made their homes in southern Africa. "My goal for this team is for them to be able to get over that fear [of Muslims] and to be able to produce in them a heart for Muslims," missionary Sean Barnes said. "God wants them to have a heart ... that has a desire to share with Muslims. Smyth reports that as he began building relationships among the people, he began to see an aspect of Muslims he wasn't seeing on the news -- kindness and hospitality. "When we spend time with Muslims, we break the stereotype that they have of Americans," missionary Amanda Barnes said. "And they break the stereotype we have of Muslims."

Church Building in North Sudan in Ruins as Hostilities Grow

More than seven months after Muslim extremists burned its church building, a Presbyterian Church of the Sudan (PCOS) congregation is still afraid to meet for worship, according to Compass Direct News. The Rev. Maubark Hamad said his church in Wad Madani has not been able to rebuild since the January 15 devastation due to the congregation’s meager resources. Christian sources said they are increasingly fearful as Muslim extremists pose more threats against Christians in an attempt to rid what they call Dar al Islam, the “Land of Islam,” of Christianity. The PCOS building in Wad Madani was burned after a series of threats against its members by Muslims extremists. When PCOS leaders reported the case to police in Wad Madani, they were surprised to find officers reluctant to investigate. “These anti-Christian activities continue to be growing these days, aiming to cause fear among the believers in North Sudan,” said another church leader on condition of anonymity. Christians in North Sudan are living beneath a blanket of fear since South Sudan seceded on July 9, with Muslim groups threatening to destroy churches, kill Christians and purge the country of Christianity.