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Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 13, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 13, 2006

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

  • Chinese House Church Closed
  • Turkish President Vetoes Minority Foundations Law
  • Sri Lankan Christians Fear Militant Buddhism
  • Poll: Sharing Christ this Christmas

Chinese House Church Closed

Authorities in a Chinese province are reportedly forcing Christians attending a house church to join the government-sanctioned Three-Self Church, ASSIST News Service reports. House churches are not officially registered organizations. According to the China Aid Association (CAA), on Nov.26, a house church assembly in Laodong Xincui, Tongling City, Anhui Province, was closed by the area Religious Affairs Bureau. The church leaders were told to worship in the local Three-Self Church. The house church was founded over a half-century ago by a well-known Christian, Wang Xingquan, and currently has a membership of about 200. Xingquan was thrown into prison for his faith during the Cultural Revolution. In order to exert more pressure on Xingquan, CAA reported his daughter’s work unit stopped paying her salary, and has threatened to fire her unless she sets an example for other Christians by joining the local Three-Self Church.

Turkish President Vetoes Minority Foundations Law

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has blocked a key piece of reform legislation passed last month to broaden religious freedoms in Turkey. A staunch secularist, Sezer sent the “foundations law” back to Parliament for revision on November 29, the same day the European Commission recommended suspension of eight chapters of Turkey’s negotiation talks to enter the European Union (EU). Compass Direct News reports that Sezer's presidential veto puts on hold rising EU demands that Turkey address the long-standing grievances of its tiny Christian and Jewish minorities, less than 1 percent of the population. In its final amended form, the bill would have permitted minority religious foundations to reclaim dozens of valuable properties confiscated by the Turkish state over the past 32 years.

Sri Lankan Christians Fear Militant Buddhism

Amid growing violence in Sri Lanka that Church leaders have likened to the “killing fields” of Cambodia, Christians in the island are facing increased persecution from Buddhist extremists, according to an ASSIST News Service report of a Release International story. TamilNet reports that Christians in Sri Lanka are appealing to the international community for help. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) also says Christians in Sri Lankan are facing more intense persecution as mob violence becomes an increasingly visible trend in the country. “Violence and militancy are not normally associated with Buddhism, which is usually seen as peaceful,” says Release International's Chief Executive, Andy Dipper. “But in Sri Lanka religion has become mixed with politics and nationalism - creating a toxic brew of hatred and fear. And Christians are often caught right in the middle - as so often happens when a nation slides towards civil war.”

Poll: Sharing Christ this Christmas

The Christian Post reports that churches are adding extra worship services for the Christmas holiday to draw Christians and unchurched friends to hear the message of Jesus Christ. Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., added two extra days of services to its typical two-day weekend of worship. Pageants and musicals also highlight the December schedule at many churches. According to a recent poll by Mission Network News, the majority of respondents said they plan to do something to share Christ, including inviting people to special Christmas services. 39 percent plan to send Christmas cards with a Christian message; 19 percent plan to invite friends and relatives to a Christmas program at church, while 11 percent will pass out seasonal tracks and 6 percent will be caroling at homes of the unsaved. One-fourth of respondents, however, said they haven't really thought about it.