Religion Today Summaries - Febuary 7, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Febuary 7, 2007

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

  • Descendant of Muhammad Converts to Christianity
  • Hindu Extremists Attack Pastors’ Conference in India
  • China’s Shifting Policies Still Hindering Religion, Witnesses Say
  • American Lifestyles Mix Compassion and Self-Oriented Behavior

Descendant of Muhammad Converts to Christianity

A Turk, who claims to be a descendant of the prophet Muhammad, has converted to Christianity in Germany, ASSIST News Service reports. Sedar Dedeoglu of Luedenscheid is involved in Christian outreach programs among Muslims. As a result he frequently receives death threats from Muslims unwilling to accept his conversion. His relatives also regard the apostasy as shameful. If Dedeoglu returned to his native country, he would very likely be killed. Despite this threat the German Federal Migration Office and several courts of justice have rejected asylum applications by the Dedeoglu family. They claim that Christians are free to practice their religion in Turkey. To avoid deportation, Dedeoglu, his wife Husniye and their daughter Isil now hope at least to be tolerated in Germany as a “case of hardship.” Dedeoglu came to Germany in 1997 and asked for asylum because of political persecution of the Kurdish minority in Turkey. Four years later he and his family converted to the Christian faith. They are members of an evangelical Brethren church.

Hindu Extremists Attack Pastors’ Conference in India

About 25 members of the Hindu extremist group Dharam Sena (Religion Army) attacked a pastors’ conference in Raipur, Chhattisgarh state, on Friday February 2, injuring at least 10 Christians. Compass Direct News reports that the attack took place at about 3:30 p.m. as organizers were preparing the opening session at the Singh Palace banquet hall in Pandri, a sub-district of Raipur. “When the Dharam Sena barged into the hall, my female manager tried to stop them, but they manhandled her and then proceeded to attack the participants,” Jay Prakash, the Christian owner of Singh Palace, told Compass. The extremists shouted “Jai Shri Ram! [Hail god Rama]” as they beat the Christians with sticks, verbally insulted them and accused them of forcibly converting Hindus.

China’s Shifting Policies Still Hindering Religion, Witnesses Say

Chinese officials are changing religious regulations as the 2008 Summer Olympics approaches, but some of those changes have proved detrimental to people of faith, witnesses said at a recent Capitol Hill hearing. According to Baptist Press, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) heard testimony from Chinese religious leaders and human rights advocates on the situation in China as the city of Beijing prepares for the Olympics. “The changing strategies and tactics of the public security officials... suggests that the Chinese authorities are becoming concerned about appearing more tolerant of Christians in the eyes of the international community. However, there seems to be less evidence of a genuine change in their broad policy,” Bob Fu, president of China Aid Association, said. Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, told the commissioners, “The situation is getting worse.... [I]t’s been consistently getting worse.” The approach of the Olympics has given hope to human rights activists, however. The international spotlight hopefully will increase leverage during the next 18 months to encourage China to be more respectful of the rights of its citizens, said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

American Lifestyles Mix Compassion and Self-Oriented Behavior

The subject of The Barna Group's latest study is: How do the lifestyles of Americans define them - by their capacity to "do good" for others or by their willingness to indulge themselves? The results show that Americans exhibit both a willingness to sacrifice and impulses toward self. 20 lifestyle elements were examined regarding a person's behavior within a given month. Generally, the study found, adults are more likely to claim acts of kindness and responsible behavior than to admit to self-oriented activities. Americans most readily admitted to activites such as recycling (74% said they did this in the last month), helping their communities (48%), and volunteering at church or other non-profit (25% in the last week). However, the report says, "beyond community and faith engagement, Americans are carving out new lifestyles of self-oriented behavior, which affects their interpersonal relationships, their sexuality, their perspectives about property and finances, their abuse of substances, and their sense of spiritual guidance. Notably, Americans are increasingly willing to exhibit rage and self-centeredness, with 33% saying they have used profanity in public in the last month, and 28% indicating they have said mean things to others about someone else when that person was not present.