Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 16, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 16, 2010

  • Eritrean Refugees in Uganda Still Pressured
  • Church Yearbook Shows Liberal Churches' Continued Decline
  • Assailant in Street Attack in Turkey Ordered Released
  • London Church Wins Second Noise Ordinance Battle

Eritrean Refugees in Uganda Still Pressured

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that Eritrean refugees living in Kampala, Uganda face pressure from the Eritrean Consulate to petition against United Nations (UN) sanctions on their home country. Notices have been posted in businesses regularly visited by Eritreans asking them to visit certain locations in order to receive urgent information. Once there, refugees are asked for their opinion on the UN sanctions and given a petition to sign opposing them. This announcement requests the order must be complied with by Feb. 15. Eritreans in Uganda have felt increasingly vulnerable since the Consulate officially opened in May 2009. One local source said that most are now signing the petition under duress, but worry their refugee status may be withdrawn if the Ugandan government finds out: "The government can do anything, and many people are signing out of fear".

Church Yearbook Shows Liberal Churches' Continued Decline

The Christian Post reports that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) experienced a decline in membership for the second year in a row, while the Catholic Church in America gained a small number. According to the National Council of Churches' 2010 yearbook, the SBC reported a slight drop in membership in 2008, the last year figures were available for the study. The Catholic Church stopped bleeding members and experienced membership growth of 1.49 percent. The Presbyterian Church (USA) lost more members than any other denomination reporting, shedding 3.28 percent of its members. The Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, editor of the annual yearbook since 1998, acknowledged the continued loss of membership in the largest mainline denominations. She attributes the membership losses on "an increasing secularization of American postmodern society, and its disproportionate impact on liberal religious groups."

Assailant in Street Attack in Turkey Ordered Released

Compass Direct News reports that an Istanbul court has ordered the release of a jailed Turk who publicly threatened and held a knife to the throat of a Christian he attacked six months ago. In a ruling on Feb. 10, the Kadikoy Seventh Court of First Instance convicted Yasin Karasu, 24, of making death threats and mounting an armed attack against Ismail Aydin. Shouting to attract passersby as he held a knife to Aydin's throat on Aug. 3, Karasu had denounced the Christian as a "missionary dog" who had betrayed Turkey by leaving Islam and evangelizing others. The crime is punishable by four years in prison, but Justice Tahsin Dogan ruled that Karasu should be released unconditionally, without serving the remainder of his sentence. "It seems that the judge did not take into account at all that this crime was committed with religious hostility," one member of Turkey's Association of Protestant Churches told Compass.

London Church Wins Second Noise Ordinance Battle

ASSIST News Service reports that for the second time in as many months, a London Borough Council served a notice against a church perceived to be singing too loudly. According to the Christian Legal Center (CLC), in May 2009, Waltham Forest Borough Council issued Immanuel International Christian Ministries with a noise abatement notice ordering them to worship "more quietly" or be prosecuted. On Feb. 8, the notice was amended in the church's favor. The notice states the Council must agree to volume limits with church leaders and an independent sound engineer in the coming weeks, relieving the church from subjective noise judgments. According to the CLC, "This case has established an important principle that local authorities must have substantive evidence of excessive noise, rather than act subjectively on a few complaints without any objective evidence."