Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 7, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 7, 2008

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

  • Tornado Rips Across Four States, Kills 52
  • China Targeted Church Leaders in ‘07 Crackdown
  • Woman Attacked for Converting to Christianity
  • Jewish Groups Decry New Catholic Text

Tornado Rips Across Four States, Kills 52

The Christian Post reports that violent storms and tornadoes in the mid-South the night of Feb. 5 left at least 52 people dead and many more injured. Deaths occurred in four states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. At Union University in Jackson, Tenn., about 1,200 students were believed to be in campus dorms when the tornado hit Tuesday night. The men's and women's dorms were completely destroyed, and the roof of a main academic building was torn off, according to David Dockery, university president. No one was killed on the Southern Baptist campus of about 3,000 students. "It's a miracle of the Lord more people weren't injured," Union professor Michael Chute told Baptist Press. Local churches mobilized buses to take students to the homes of volunteers willing to take them in.

China Targeted Church Leaders in ‘07 Crackdown

Evidence of ongoing persecution of Christians in China continues to emerge, with China Aid Association (CAA) reporting this week that a significant increase in harassment, arrests and detentions in 2007 compared with 2006. In its annual report on persecution in China, CAA reported a total of 60 incidents in 2007 but cautioned that, due to censorship of communications in China, the total number of incidents was likely much higher. Compass Direct News reports that incidents included the arrest and sentencing of Christian rights defender and pastor Hua Huiqi in Beijing on January 26, 2007 and the arrest and detention of Christian bookstore owner Shi Weihan in Beijing on November 28.

Woman Attacked for Converting to Christianity

A woman was reportedly attacked by a group of suspected Hindus for converting into Christianity at Ullal on the outskirts of Mangalore city, Karnataka state on January 17, ASSIST News Service reports. According to reports, the woman was waiting at a bus stand for her husband, a bus conductor with the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, on that day when a petty shop owner there asked her what her name was and whether she was a Hindu. She responded, saying she had converted into Christianity 15 years previously. The shop owner then alerted a few people present there about her conversion, following which the group, suspected to be Hindu fundamentalists, beat her up. He then alleged that the police, who arrived at the spot, beat her with sticks and detained her at the police station. The woman was released only after local political leader U. K. Khader intervened.

Jewish Groups Decry New Catholic Text

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a coalition of Jewish groups expressed disappointment at the new text of the Catholic Church's Prayer for the Jews. The prayer removes language considered offensive to Jews, including a reference to Jews’ “blindness” and a call that God “may lift the veil from their hearts,” but still prays for the salvation of the Jews exclusively through conversion to Christianity. Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday unveiled the replacement for the Good Friday prayer in Latin, which is not used by most of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics. Rabbi David Rosen, chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, said, "This new version for the Latin rite appears to be a regression from the path advanced by the declaration of the second Vatican Council. We urge the Catholic Church to deepen its exploration of the full implications of Nostra Aetate's affirmation of the eternal validity of God’s Divine Covenant with the Jewish People."