Religion Today Summaries - December 28, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 28, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Nigeria Fears More Church Attacks Likely
  • African Warlord Who Killed 20,000 People Repents, Now a Christian Evangelist
  • Christian Charged With Blasphemy After Argument
  • Minnesota City Must Allow People to Share Faith


Nigeria Fears More Church Attacks Likely

On Christmas Day, bomb attacks destroyed three churches in central Nigeria, killing more than two dozen people. According to Mission Network News, the bombings and other recent attacks show that the militant, al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group Boko Haram has become more organized in its goal to create the most possible fear and chaos among Christians. Boko Haram's attacks are representative of the tensions between Nigeria's mostly Muslim north and majority-Christian south, and church leaders in the most vulnerable areas fear the government is leaving them to fend for themselves. "What [Boko Haram] wants is really sharia law all across Nigeria," said Jerry Dykstra of Open Doors USA. "I think it does not bode well for next year because there could be a civil war in Nigeria, and that could have tremendous repercussions."

African Warlord Who Killed 20,000 People Repents, Now a Christian Evangelist

A film set to air on the Documentary Channel Jan. 22 will chronicle the life of Joshua Blahyi, one of Liberia's most brutal and feared warlords who found Christ and dramatically turned his life around, the Christian Post reports. Blahyi, who was dubbed "General Butt Naked" for entering battle with nothing but shoes and an AK-47, now renounces his violent past, including the murders of nearly 20,000 during Liberia's 14-year civil war. Since a dramatic encounter with Jesus in 1996, Blahyi has reinvented himself as an evangelist, traveling the nation as a preacher and asking for forgiveness from those he hurt in the past. Filmmakers Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion spent five years with Blahyi to create "The Redemption of General Butt Naked," which documents Blahyi's interactions with his former child soldiers and victims and highlights faith and forgiveness. "Christianity ... is the only belief, the only faith that tell[s] you to love your enemies," Blahyi says in an excerpt from the movie. "Only God is able to turn lives around."

Christian Charged With Blasphemy After Argument

A young Christian man was charged with desecrating the Quran under Pakistan's controversial "blasphemy" law after he had an argument over rent with his Muslim landlord, Compass Direct News reports. KhuramMasih, 23, was charged under Section 295-B of the law -- which makes willful desecration of the Quran or use of an extract in a derogatory manner punishable with life imprisonment -- after his landlord accused him of burning pages of the Quran in order to prepare tea. Masih appeared in court Dec. 24, but the judge did not show up, and a new trial date is scheduled for January. Christian rights activist Khalid Shahzad said that soon after the news of the alleged desecration spread, he and other Christian leaders started efforts to defuse religious tensions threatening the lives and property of more than 15,000 Christians in the area.

Minnesota City Must Allow People to Share Faith

A federal court in Minnesota ruled Dec. 20 that Duluth doesn't have the right to shut down free speech at an event in a public park when officials don't like the viewpoint being expressed, WORLD News Service reports. Last year, two men were passing out religious literature at the annual Bentleyville Tour of Lights when a police officer ordered them to leave, an event organizer told them other people "don't want to hear religious crap" and another offered to help them meet Jesus more quickly. The city backed up the event organizers, but the federal court ruled in favor of the men's First Amendment rights. Alliance Defense Fund litigation staff counsel Jonathan Scruggs applauded the ruling: "The court made the right decision in suspending the ban so that people can share their faith in a nondisruptive manner."

Publication date: December 28, 2011