Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 3, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 3, 2008

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

  • Riots Were Religious, Not Political, Nigerians Say
  • Two Copts Wrongly Detained, Tortured in Egypt
  • Americans Pass Economic Woes to Churches
  • India: Abducted Pastor Escapes

Riots Were Religious, Not Political, Nigerians Say

The Christian Post reports that Christians in Jos, Nigeria, resent the international media's spin on the riots that rocked the city Friday, saying that election results had little to do with the violence. A local source told Christian Solidarity Worldwide, “As usual they took Jos by surprise, and are now hiding behind election results to launch and excuse their mayhem.” Rioters targeted Christian businesses, churches and clergymen's homes early Friday morning, armed with guns, spears and machetes. The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Plateau State, the Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, said, "We were surprised at the way some of our churches and property were attacked and some of our faithful and clergy killed," he continued. "The attacks were carefully planned and executed. The questions that bog our minds are why were churches and clergy attacked and killed? Why were politicians and political party offices not attacked if it were a political conflict? Why were the business premises and property of innocent civilians destroyed?"

Two Copts Wrongly Detained, Tortured in Egypt

Compass Direct News reports that two Coptic Christians wrongfully arrested for killing a Muslim during the May 31 attack on Abu Fana monastery in Egypt have been tortured and sent to a detention camp so authorities could try to extract a false confession, their lawyer said. Egyptian authorities sent brothers Refaat and Ibrahim Fawzy Abdo to El Wadi El Gadid Detention Camp near the Egypt-Sudan border on Nov. 22. The brothers were bailed out a week before, but never released. Their attorney, Zakary Kamal, said that monks at Abu Fana say the Fawazy Abdo brothers were far from the monastery at the time of the attacks. Security forces are detaining the brothers to blackmail the Coptic Church into testifying that the attack against Abu Fana monastery in Mallawi, Upper Egypt, was a criminal case of gunfire exchange that was unrelated to persecution of Christians, Kamal said.

Americans Pass Economic Woes to Churches

A new study from the Barna Group shows that fears and disruptions in the economy have induced one in every five households to decrease donations to churches or other religious centers. Over the last three months, 22 percent have stopped giving entirely, and even 48 percent of givers in "upscale" housholds were likely to have reduced their donation. The report found that families with "serious financial debt, "downscale" households, and those who lost 20 percent or greater in their retirement fund or stock portfolio value were most likely to cut back. Among the 20 percent total who cut back at least somewhat, 28 percent had reduced their gifts by half or more. Christian Post reports that George Barna, head of the Barna Group, said, “The giving patterns we’re witnessing suggest that churches, alone, will receive some $3 billion to $5 billion dollars less than expected during this fourth quarter." Churches can usually expect greater giving in the last quarter, Barna said, but need to prepare for a 4 percent to 6 percent dip below usual.

India: Abducted Pastor Escapes

ASSIST News Service reports that Gospel for Asia missionary N. Chauhan has escaped from his abductors after spending a day in captivity and torture. Chauhan was in a marketplace in Madhya Pradesh, India, when a group of anti-Christian extremists began questioning him. Chauhan could feel their animosity and refused to answer their questions about his ministry. The angry group dragged him to a secluded house and beat him. Hours later, the mob brought in a Bible and tried to force Chauhan to stomp on it. The missionary refused, and was rewarded with more severe beatings. Chauhan managed to escape when captors untied him by a dark road to let him relieve himself. He ran nine miles to another Christian's home, where he was able to contact worried Christian leaders.