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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 15, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 15, 2007

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

  • Iran: Seduction and Persecution of the Church
  • Navy Discharging Dissident Chaplain
  • Sudanese Police Deny New Year’s Church Attack
  • Billy Graham's 1975 Sermon on Hope Still Relevant in 2007

Iran: Seduction and Persecution of the Church

According to the Shia Islam of Iran, in the end times the Muslim prophet Jesus will return with the Imam Mahdi, the hidden 12th Imam - the Shiite Messiah. The Shiite Jesus will worship the Imam Mahdi and lead the final jihad. Even though the Muslim Jesus and the biblical Jesus have little in common and actually oppose each other, President Ahmadinejad went out of his way to publicly wish Iran's Christians a happy Christmas and New Year. However, says ASSIST News Service, his message sounded like an attempt to seduce Christians into believing that Shiite Iran is more Christ-honoring than the 'oppressive powers' in 'Christian states' which have created havoc in Iraq and leveled sanctions against Iran. It is reasonable to infer that Ahmadinejad means to seduce the official church of ethnic Armenian and Assyrian Christians into becoming compliant - even grateful - collaborators in exchange for limited 'privileges.' Ahmadinejad could then appear supportive of the church and religious liberty in general.

Navy Discharging Dissident Chaplain

According to AgapePress, the U.S. Navy is discharging the chaplain who staged public fasts and prayers for the right to pray in Jesus' name in uniform wherever and whenever he wished. Lieutenant Gordon Klingenschmitt lost his church's chaplain certification after his reprimand for disobeying an order by appearing in uniform at a news conference outside the White House. He obtained certification from another denomination, but a Navy spokesman says it was not accepted because of Klingenschmitt's record and performance as a naval officer. The discharge is effective at the end of this month. Klingenschmitt says he does not regret his actions and will continue to appeal the discharge.

Sudanese Police Deny New Year’s Church Attack

Sudanese police have denied attacking 800 Christians at a New Year’s Eve service at Khartoum’s Anglican cathedral and injuring six members of the congregation, the church priest said. Canon Sylvester Thomas of All Saints Cathedral told Compass Direct News that officers firing tear gas into the church claimed they were trying to apprehend a man involved in a stabbing. “The police were trying to claim, ‘This group doesn’t belong to us and we don’t know where they came from,’” Thomas said. “But they were all in uniform and using guns and [police] cars.” A 19-year-old man was badly injured in the leg and stomach when the chair he was sitting on went up in flames, Thomas said, and the sound system, pews, chairs and windows were damaged. A police spokesman in Khartoum contacted by Compass refused to comment on the attack.

Billy Graham's 1975 Sermon on Hope Still Relevant in 2007

Stories of war dominate the headlines, gas prices skyrocket, and corporate greed shakes the financial world. Is this 2007, or 1975?  While much has changed in the past 30 years, one fact remains: Many people are without hope, in pain, confused. When Billy Graham took the stage at the University of New Mexico in March 1975, domestic terrorists had just bombed the U.S. State Department, OPEC had recently raised fuel prices, a train crash in London had killed 43 people, and the Watergate sentences were handed down. In this climate, Graham asked during his sermon: "What do you place your hope in?" The Billy Graham Television Special, airing January 13-21, features this message and testimonies including University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt and Christian singer Russ Lee - who were left without hope, but who placed their faith in Jesus. Musical performances include Third Day and Casting Crowns. Visit billygraham.org/tv for station information.