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Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 9, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 9, 2008

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

  • Bangladesh: Christian Family Beaten - and Facing Charges
  • Tensions Flare Over Egypt's Underground Churches
  • 'We Did No Wrong," Say Jailed Missionaries in Gambia
  • Frugal Farmer Leaves $2M Estate to Church


Bangladesh: Christian Family Beaten - and Facing Charges

Compass Direct News reports that the harassment that Bangladeshi converts from Islam face from Muslim neighbors in this southeastern area near Cox’s Bazar can take serious turns – as it did last month. Confident that no police would side with Christian converts from Islam, about a dozen Muslims in Chakaria town attacked a Christian family with machetes and then later filed false charges of assault against the wounded and limping Christians, family members said. On Nov. 1, Laila Begum, a 45-year-old Christian convert from Islam, said that some 10 to 15 Muslim neighbors demanded money. When she told the group of Muslim neighbors that she would not pay they began beating her with sticks, iron rods, knives and machetes. The family informed local governing council members about the attack, but they demanded 20,000 taka (US$300) to settle the matter and also threatened to burn their houses if they filed with police. 

Tensions Flare Over Egypt's Underground Churches

The Associated Press reports that friction between the conservative Muslim majority and minority Christians is no longer relegated to Egypt's south, but has crept into the cosmopolitan capital of Cairo. Christians, comprise only 10 percent of Egypt's 79 million population, may not build new churches "near" any mosques, but that vague reference is only one-way, as mosques may - and do - build immediately next to existing churches. Churches must also procure permission from several branches of authorities, and are often refused, according to the AP. Such tensions have led to multiple clashes that police have tried to downplay, including one two weeks ago. The singing of hundred of Christians celebrating their church's first service was interrupted by a crowd of Muslims gathering around the building. Thirteen people were injured.

'We Did No Wrong," Say Jailed Missionaries in Gambia

Western Morning News reports that a missionary couple and their 2-year-old daughter have been taken into custody in Gambia, accused of writing letters to "bring into hatred or contempt" against the Gambian government. The Fultons were arrested Dec. 1, and face up to three years in prison if convicted. Mrs. Fulton, however, says she and her husband did nothing to criticize the government of Gambia, which does not permit dissenting views. "We didn't write anything uncomplimentary about the country. We love it here. We simply wrote e-mails asking friends and family at home to pray for individuals here. We work with people in prison so we see many who need God's help, and that is all we were asking for." Mrs. Fulton and her daughter are being held in a police station, but her husband, who is reportedly in ill health, is held at a high-security jail outside the capital.

Frugal Farmer's Leaves $2M Estate to Church

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that tiny church in Indiana County received a giant Christmas present - a $2.2 million estate left by a frugal farmer who attended there. John. F. Ferguson, who died at 71, is remembered for his faded overalls and partiality for a small black coffee at the local cofeeshop. According to the Tribune-Review, Ferguson lived in a mobile home surrounded by old farm equipment. "It's stunning ... it truly is," said the Rev. Jason L. McQueen, Hopewell's pastor. "And I can tell you John could have led the easy life, but chose not to buy a lot of foolish things for himself because he was very careful, knowing that he eventually wanted the family estate to live through the church."