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Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 19, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 19, 2007

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

  • China's New Bestseller: The Bible
  • Attack on Christianity Reaches Cosmopolitan Pockets in India
  • Belarus Pastor and Homeowners Fined for Holding Worship Service in Private Home
  • Most Americans Believe in Christ's Virgin Birth

China's New Bestseller: The Bible

According to Time magazine's online site, Amity Printing has printed just some 50 million books in the last 20 years, tame by publishing standards. However, Amity focuses on one title — the Bible — and primarily one market, China, where the company is the largest printer of Christian literature in the atheist country. Amity has printed 41 million Bibles for Chinese believers at its plant outside the southern city of Nanjing, including more than 3 million copies last year. (About nine million copies have been exported to Africa, other parts of Asia and Central Europe.) Amity Printing, a joint venture between the Amity Foundation, a Chinese Christian charity, and the United Bible Societies, is acting entirely within the law. Its chief customer is the China Christian Council, the supervisory body for the country's state-controlled Protestant churches. Peter Dean, a New Zealander and the resident consultant for the United Bible Society at Amity's Nanjing plant, says, "In the case of Bibles, the government took a step in 1979 and extended trust toward the church to assemble, worship and print its own materials. I think it's important to make full use of the trust that was extended. That helps build the future that everybody wants." A poll earlier this year indicated there could be close to 300 million believers in China.

Attack on Christianity Reaches Cosmopolitan Pockets in India

Compass Direct News reports that violence and discrimination against Christians in India is reaching beyond uneducated, rural villages – Hindu extremists are increasingly targeting middle class churches in cosmopolitan centers. A mob of at least 150 unidentified people damaged a Catholic church under construction in the national capital on December 5, threatening to break the bones of the site foreman and laborers. The city of Bangalore has become religiously tense after a mob of Hindu extremists in June beat independent pastor Laxmi Narayan Gowda and tried to set him on fire before parading him naked in a suburban area. To influence educated, middle-class people, Hindu extremist groups are setting up IT (Information Technology) shakha (gatherings) “aimed at grooming IT personnel towards the RSS way of thinking,” according to the Rediff.com news website.

Belarus Pastor and Homeowners Fined for Holding Worship Service in Private Home

The official whose actions brought three members of a Belarus Baptist congregation to court for meeting for worship in a private home without state registration is defending his actions, ASSIST News Service reports. “If they want to pray to God they must have a registered place of worship,” Ruslan Krutko of the Executive Committee in the town of Baranovichi in the western Brest Region of Belarus insisted to Forum 18 News Service. “They can't use a private home as a place of worship. You couldn’t use a private home as a public toilet, could you?” An official of the Baranovichi town Administrative Court said that the three Baptists – Pastor Dmitry Osyko, and homeowners Stepan Paripa and Nikolai Pestak – were each fined on Dec. 14. “No-one violated anyone's rights - the three were dealt with in accordance with the law,” Krutko told Forum 18. “But it was the court that took the decision not us. If they believe their rights were violated they can lodge an appeal. If we are found to have done wrong under the law, then of course we will apologize.” Krutko refused to say whether the actions against the Baptists violated their rights under the country's Constitution to practice their faith freely, insisting that such guarantees and the country's laws are “different categories.”

Most Americans Believe in Christ's Virgin Birth

The Christian Post reports that the majority of Americans believe the Biblical story of Jesus Christ being born to the virgin Mary literally, according to a survey released Monday by the Barna Group. Three out of four adults said they believe in the gospel narrative of the birth of Jesus Christ. Even among atheists and agnostics, 15 percent said the event happened literally. Surprisingly, a solid majority of self-described liberals on political and social issues (60 percent) believed in the biblical view of Christ’s birth. The Christian polling organization surveyed over 1,000 adults on a half dozen biblical stories to find out if they view those stories to be factually accurate.