Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 28, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 28, 2006

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

  • Why Muslims Deny the Holocaust
  • Cuban Pastor Acquitted, but Convicted on New Charge
  • Iraqi Christians Debate Self-Autonomy to Halt Exodus
  • Comfort Offers Help in Responding to Atheists, Evolutionists

Why Muslims Deny the Holocaust

A Muslim who immigrated to the Netherlands more than ten years ago is offering his insights into why so many in the Islamic world believe there was no Holocaust, AgapePress reports. Ayann Hirsi Ali was until recently a member of Holland's Parliament. He remembers a visit from his Muslim sister a few years ago during which he told her that upon learning his European history, he had discovered there was an event called the Holocaust in which six-million Jews were massacred by Nazi Germans. She reacted with absolute rejection of that historic fact, saying instead that the Jews had made it up, and that she prayed that one day all the Jews in the world would be destroyed. His sister was not saying anything new. As a child growing up in Saudi Arabia, Ali remembered his teachers, his mother, and their neighbors saying almost daily that Jews are evil, the sworn enemies of Muslims, and that their only goal was to destroy Islam. There was never a mention of the Holocaust. Ali says because of this fact of life in most of the Muslim world, Western leaders should not be surprised by the recent Holocaust denial conference held in Iran. But what troubles him most is that most of the mainstream Muslim world refused to denounce the conference.

Cuban Pastor Acquitted, but Convicted on New Charge

Compass Direct News reports that a court in Havana has found the Rev. Carlos Lamelas not guilty of “trafficking in human beings” but convicted him on a previously unannounced charge of falsification of documents. Judges imposed a fine of 1,000 Cuban pesos (US$45) on the evangelical pastor and former national president of the Church of God in Cuba for the new charge. A co-defendant in the trafficking case, evangelical pastor Joel Rojas of Holguín, was convicted of “human trafficking” (helping Cubans flee the country) and was sentenced to seven years in prison, according to the court document. A guilty verdict for Lamelas on the charge of “human trafficking” could have resulted in a prison term of up to nine years. He expressed relief but said, “We are not satisfied. How can it be that I am innocent of the original crime, and nevertheless guilty of the one they later invented?”

Iraqi Christians Debate Self-Autonomy to Halt Exodus

A new plan for Christian self-autonomy within Iraq’s Kurdish region has sparked debate among Iraqi Christian leaders desperate to halt the mass exit of Christians from Iraq, according to Compass Direct News. With church-bombing and priest-kidnapping on the rise in Mosul and Baghdad, Iraq’s Christian population is estimated to have dropped below 450,000, half the size it was in 1991. Iraq’s half-a-dozen or more historical churches, many of them dating back to the first three centuries after Christ, agree that something must be done to preserve their existence. But consensus on a solution has proven elusive. “A year ago, the plight of the Christian community was not very well known,” Michel Gabaudan of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees told The Associated Press in a December 15 article. “But that has changed, because we now have very clear evidence that they have been persecuted.”

Comfort Offers Help in Responding to Atheists, Evolutionists

A well-known evangelist and Christian television show host is trying to equip believers to respond effectively to atheists, AgapePress reports. In his book Intelligent Design vs. Evolution: Letters to an Atheist, Ray Comfort uses actual e-mails between himself and an atheist that took place several years ago. When the atheist inquired why Comfort did not accept "scientific facts" supporting the theory of evolution, the evangelist responded that there was more proof that the world is flat. Comfort contends that many Christians do not know how to respond to atheists' questions about intelligent design. The evangelist maintains that God's Word can be defended scientifically, historically, and logically. While evolutionists speak the language of "conjecture," Comfort explains there is what he describes as "absolute, hard, scientific, empirical evidence" about Creation. He claims to be able to prove God's existence scientifically in two minutes -- without the use of "faith." First explain that the word "science" simply means "knowledge." Then, he says, engage them with the following: "Let me give you knowledge of a Creator. To have a building, you must have a builder. To have a painting, you must have a painter. Buildings don't happen without a builder; paintings don't happen without a painter. Creation cannot happen without a Creator." Comfort's book -- as well as a board game based on the book -- are recommended by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis.