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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 4, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 4, 2010

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

  • Church Bomber in Nepal Repents, Admits India Link
  • Malaysia Court Nixes Ban on Christian 'Allah' Usage
  • Persecution in North Korea Set to Worsen in 2010
  • Senegal Clashes as Archbishop says Christians Insulted

Church Bomber in Nepal Repents, Admits India Link

Compass Direct News reports that the leader of a militant Hindu extremist group has reportedly repented of bombing a Catholic church here in May 2008 through contact with Christians in prison. Ram Prasad Mainali, the 37-year-old chief of the Nepal Defense Army, was arrested on Sept. 5 for exploding a bomb in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Kathmandu on May 23. The explosion killed a teenager and a newly-married woman from India's Bihar state and injured more than a dozen others. In Kathmandu's jail in the Nakkhu area, Mainali told Compass he regretted bombing the church. "I bombed the church so that I could help re-establish Nepal as a Hindu nation," he said. "But I was wrong." Mainali said he began reading the Bible after experiencing the graciousness of prison Christians. "Although I bombed the church, Christians come to meet me everyday," he said. "No rightwing Hindu has come to meet me even once."

Malaysia Court Nixes Ban on Christian 'Allah' Usage

The Christian Post reports that a Malaysian newspaper won a major victory for Christians in Malaysia yesterday. The Catholic newspaper The Herald cannot be barred from using the word "Allah" to refer to the Christian God, according to the country's high court. In the landmark ruling, Judge Datuk Lau Bee Lan announced that the word "Allah" is not exclusive to Islam and that the government's Home Ministry is "not empowered" to ban non-Muslims from using the word. "This ... means that the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking community of the Christian faith can now continue to freely use the word 'Allah' without any interference from the authorities," said the Rev. Fr. Lawrence Andrew, the newspaper's editor. The Catholic Church filed suit against the government in 2007 after the government began threatening the paper.

Persecution in North Korea Set to Worsen in 2010

Christian Today reports the situation for Christians in North Korea could easily worsen in 2010, according to a Christian relief group that supports persecuted Christians. "2010 is forecast to be a year of tremendous hardship and food shortages since the country's harvest in 2009 was a poor one," said Tim Peters, a partner with Release International. The group helps North Korean defectors find safe houses, Bibles and pastoral care. Kang Cheol Hwan, a former North Korean prisoner who is now a Christian, said, "It is like a giant prison camp has crossed the land. Starvation spreads out over the entire nation; it has become the norm," he said. "I lived in Yoduk prison camp for 10 years; I was treated like an animal there. I had watched many people die from starvation and beatings.

Senegal Clashes as Archbishop says Christians Insulted

AFP reports that religious differences between the president of Senegal and the archbishop of Dakar almost turned into a riot on Wednesday. Although some worshippers tried to stop the mob, several dozen young people threw stones at armed security forces, who fired tear gas at the crowd. Cardinal Theodore Adrien Sarr, the archbishop of Dakar, accused the president of making "damaging remarks" about Christians, calling it "scandalous and intolerable that the divinity of Jesus Christ, heart of our faith, is called into question and ridiculed by the highest authority of the state." On Monday, President Abdoulaye Wade expressed the Muslim view that Christian churches are places to "pray to someone who is not God."