Religion Today Summaries - February 17, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 17, 2006

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


In today's edition:

Asbury College Chapel Service Lasts Nearly a Week


A student-led chapel service at Asbury College that began early on Monday, February 6, ended up lasting four days after students refused to leave what Asbury’s president called “a wonderful sense of the Spirit’s ordering.” “God continues to move across the campus,” President Paul A. Rader said during the Tuesday chapel. “We have had students in Hughes Auditorium continuously since Monday at 10 A.M. when God came in such power and blessing,” Rader stated. “Throughout the day there was a beautiful awareness of the holiness of God. Many students took off their shoes with a sense of standing on holy ground. God is answering the passionate and persistent prayers of committed students who have been fasting and praying for weeks for this kind of spiritual breakthrough. We are all rejoicing in it. Richard Gaines from the Consolidated Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky was the guest speaker for Friday morning’s Chapel. He said, “We must be a people of prayer and this is a direct result of somebody spending time on bended knees. God is up to something. God is moving. God is doing great things.” Arthur Sweeney, of Ireland, summed up the week, saying, “It’s an experience that’s indescribable. This entire week was freedom in Christ… like God unscripted. God just came in and took over.”


Event Shows Extent of Fear of Christianity


Christianity is a major threat to Indian nationalism, organizers of a “reconversion” rally held last weekend in Gujarat indicated yesterday during the closing ceremony. Organizers of the Shabri Kumbh led the 60,000-strong crowd to repeat, “I will save my religion,” and the throng often shouted, “Jai Shri Ram (Praise be to the god Rama).” The assembly resolved to save the Hindu religion and Bharat Mata (Mother India goddess) by reconverting Christians. Sadhvi Ritambhara, a popular Hindu preacher whose programs are aired on several TV channels, said, “They [Christians] call us harvest. They intend to pluck us out. And foreigners want to do this to us.” Ritambhara said it was imperative for Hindus to take up arms to save their religion.


Church Leaders Urge Palestinians to Work for Peace


Facing the prospect of a Hamas-led Palestinian government, the top two officials of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) wrote letters last week to Palestinian leaders, urging them to work together to find non-violent ways to end the political stalemate in the region. Spero News reports that the letters, signed by the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the General Assembly, and Elder Rick Ufford-Chase, moderator of the 216th General Assembly, were dated Feb. 9. One was addressed to Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh, Khaled Mashaal and Mahmoud Zahra, the other to Palestinian President H.E. Mahmoud Abbas. Both affirmed the elections last month that brought Hamas to the helm of the government. To the leaders of Hamas, the PC(USA) officials said: "The way toward a future that is peaceful and not marred by the bloodshed of the past must involve your cooperation with President Abbas and his followers, with other Palestinian groups seeking peace, and, of course, with the Israelis, without whom no peace will ever be possible. "Further, given our longstanding partnerships with our Christian sisters and brothers in Palestine, we are gravely concerned that Hamas make a clear commitment to the protection of their rights as full members of the Palestinian society. We urge you to find a way forward that will change the current stalemate of hatred and violence, so that all who live in this land holy to our three faiths may dwell with their children in peace, security and prosperity. We pledge ourselves to continue to support such efforts as fully as we are able."


Hindu Extremists in India Call for National Anti-Conversion Law


Hindu nationalists are making yet another push for a national anti-conversion law in India. Leaders introduced their resolution at the Shabri Kumbh, a 're-awakening' event. It was geared toward getting people to re-convert back to Hindusim. The rally took place last weekend in Western Gujarat State. Open Doors' Jerry Dykstra says there's reason for concern and it means persecution could get worse. "They really want to drive out the Christians. Because they equate Christianity with the West. So, there's a growing national movement by the extreme Hindus to push out Christians." Hindu rally participants expressed concern at what they described as mass conversion of Dalits and tribals to Christianity. Until central legislation gets through, militant leaders are calling on the states to enact their own stringent anti-conversion laws. The language is inflammatory and Christians targeted for attacks in the past are afraid the Kumbh will be followed by another reign of terror. Dykstra says a national anti-conversion law would make their work difficult. "A national law, obviously, would have a tremendous negative effect on Christianity and mission work there. We just need to pray that won't happen. Really the goal of radical Hindus is to turn India in a pure Hindu nation."