Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 30, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 30, 2008

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

  • Jordan Expels Foreign Christians
  • Belgrade Hotel Defends Hitler-Themed Suite
  • Creation Museum Surpassing Expectations
  • Evangelicals in German Speaking Europe: Focus on Prayer

Jordan Expels Foreign Christians

Jordan has increased pressure on foreign Christians living in the kingdom, expelling many long-time residents over the past 13 months in what local churches see as an attack on their legitimacy. Authorities deported or refused residence permits to at least 27 expatriate Christian families and individuals in 2007, a number of them working with local churches or studying at a Christian seminary, Compass has confirmed. In all but one case, officials refused to provide written explanations for the decisions. But many of those expelled told Compass Direct News that they had been questioned by intelligence officers regarding evangelism of Muslims. “They said that I am a threat to Jordanian security and I am making the society unstable,” said Hannu Lahtinen, a Finnish pastor deported last month. “They have a thousand ways to say you are preaching the gospel.”

Belgrade Hotel Defends Hitler-Themed Suite

Despite protests from Jewish and other groups, a Belgrade hotel is defending its Adolf Hitler-themed suite, arguing that it is important to keep the memory of the brutal dictator alive to prevent history from repeating itself, reports. But the Anti-Defamation League calls the hotel's decision to honor the mass murderer "disturbing." The Mr. President Hotel in Belgrade, Serbia, which opened in November, offers hotel rooms named after past and present world leaders. The suite featuring a portrait of the uniformed, swastika-bearing German dictator has drawn sharp criticism, but is very popular with guests. Last week, the ADL asked hotel owner Dusan Zabunovic to remove Hitler's portrait and change the room's theme before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Zabunovic praised ADL National Director Abraham Foxman but asked if the ADL would also demand that Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum remove Hitler's wax figure, or if movies and books about Hitler should be destroyed. Foxman noted that Madame Toussaud's wax likeness of Hitler is located in the museum's "Chamber of Horrors," not among world leaders, saying that "context" is important.

Creation Museum Surpassing Expectations

Eight months after it opened, the Creation Museum near Cincinnati still has its secular detractors, but its success in attendance is erasing any doubts it can succeed, Baptist Press reports. Officials with the museum say they surpassed their one-year attendance goal in only seven months, drawing 290,000 visitors through the end of 2007. When the museum opened on Memorial Day, officials said their 12-month goal in attendance was 250,000. They passed the 300,000 mark Jan. 9. Kurt Wise, a consultant for the museum and professor of science and theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, "A lot of Christians who are creationists want an alternative to the fabulous museums that we have -- the Field Museum [in Chicago] and the Smithsonian and so on. They like taking their kids to those places, but they want to see the creation model presented, and that's especially true for homeschool groups. It's filled a void that probably never had been filled." Mark Looy, a vice president for Answers in Genesis, said 200 media outlets have either visited the museum or conducted telephone interviews.

Evangelicals in German Speaking Europe: Focus on Prayer

Prayer remains at the heart of the Evangelical Alliance’s ministry in German speaking Europe, ASSIST News Service reports. At their annual meeting in Stuttgart the Alliance’s executives of Germany, Austria and German speaking parts of Switzerland reaffirmed their special commitment to the annual week of prayer. During the recent week, January 6 – 13, 350,000 Christians gathered for prayer meetings in Germany, 5,000 in Austria and 50,000 in Switzerland. The Presidents and General Secretaries also discussed plans for 2008. High on the agenda are outreach programs during a major sports event that will take place in Austria and Switzerland this summer – the European Soccer Cup. According to Christoph Groetzinger, General Secretary of the Austrian Alliance, numerous missionary events will accompany the tournament, June 7 – 29.