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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 7, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 7, 2009

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

  • China: Three Sentenced to 'Re-education Through Labor'
  • Some Christians Welcome Atheist Ads on Buses
  • Bangladesh: Muslims Threaten Pastor for Evangelizing
  • Episcopal Church Wins Cali. Property Dispute

China: Three Sentenced to 'Re-education Through Labor'

ASSIST News Service reports that some of the 50 Chinese Christians arrested in a house church raid Dec. 3 will pay a heavy price for their church membership. More than a dozen PSB officials burst in the church in Zhoukou township of Taikang county, Henan Province, and confiscated multiple items, including a television. The officials also seized 22 copies of a textbook designed for teaching evangelism to children and notes for a series of evangelism lessons. About 20 Christians were sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention and a 1,000 yuan fine ($150 USD). They were accused of being a “Shouter evil cult.” Three of the group, Tang Houyong, Shu Wenxiang and Xie Zhenqi, received a one-year sentence of re-education through labor for “illegal proselytizing” and attending an “illegal gathering.”

Some Christians Welcome Atheist Ads on Buses

The Christian Post reports that an atheist group's ad campaign hit London buses yesterday, but some Christians aren't worried about the ads. The think tank Theos believes the ads - which read, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" - will only encourage people to consider their faith. "Telling someone 'there's probably no God' is a bit like telling them that they've probably remembered to lock their front door. It creates the doubt that they might not have done so," said Theos Director Paul Woolley. Mike Elms, a fellow of The Marketing Society and former chief executive of ad agencies Ogilvy & Mather and Tempus/CIA, agreed. “[A]theists are challenging us to make that choice one way or another. The atheist campaign opens the door toward a very public debate on the existence and nature of God."

Bangladesh: Muslims Threaten Pastor for Evangelizing

Compass Direct News reports that the torture and harassment that a Christian pastor in Meherpur district has faced for more than a year loomed anew last month. Jhontu Biswas, 31, said 4,000 residents of Fulbaria town, 270 kilometers (168 miles) west of Dhaka, accused him of "misleading" Muslims by distributing Christian booklets. They confronted him en masse on Dec. 9 as they gathered for the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival of sacrifice. Biswas denied the accusations against him, and the Muslims threatened to harm him and other converts to Christianity if a new government came to power following Dec. 29 elections, he said. Fortunately for Biswas, the left-leaning Awami League-led Grand Alliance won a landslide victory in the election, and it does not include Islamic fundamentalist parties such as Jamaat-e-Islami.

Episcopal Church Wins Cali. Property Dispute

The Associated Press reports that the Episcopal Church's rules on property ownership supersede the names on seceding church property deeds, according to the California Supreme Court on Monday. Episcopal Church rules dictate that individual parishes own their property "only as long as they remained part of the bigger church," the AP said. St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints Church in Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood left the national church in 2004, and argue the national church had not contributed financially to their parishes for half a century. The Los Angeles Diocese's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jon Bruno, said he hoped the decision would bring some closure to both sides. "I'm a Christian and I believe there is always the possibility of reconciliation," Bruno said. "It has been devastating for both sides."