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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 8, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 8, 2008

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

  • Muslims Call for Outspoken British Bishop to Resign
  • Coordinated Blasts Rock Churches in Iraq
  • Muslim Clerics Warn Afghanistan President against Missionaries
  • U.K. Missionaries Serve amid Tough Conditions

Muslims Call for Outspoken British Bishop to Resign

Some religious groups in Britain have demanded the resignation of the Bishop of Rochester after he claimed that Islamic radicals had turned parts of Britain into "no-go" areas for non-Muslims, ASSIST News Service reports. The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that fundamentalism had made some communities hostile to Christians and those from other faiths. In a story by Caroline Gammell in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, supporters said Bishop Nazir-Ali’s comments have raised serious questions about multiculturalism in Britain. But Mohammed Shafiq, from the Ramadhan Foundation, told the Telegraph, “Mr. Nazir-Ali is promoting hatred towards Muslims and should resign.” Ajmal Masroor, of the Islamic Society of Great Britain, told the Telegraph, “It's a distortion of reality. Our communities are far more integrated than they were 10 years ago. If the Church of England had an iota of fairness they would take serious action.” But the Telegraph reported that senior figures from the Church of England have backed the Bishop of Rochester's remarks about faith, and said Christians in predominantly Muslim areas could feel isolated and nervous about how to express their belief.

Coordinated Blasts Rock Churches in Iraq

Four Iraqi churches and three convents were damaged in coordinated bomb blasts Sunday morning, the day many Iraqi Christians celebrate either Epiphany or Christmas Eve according to some Eastern liturgical calendars. Three churches in Baghdad and three in Mosul were hit without fatalities, Chaldean Baghdad Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Abouna told Compass Direct News from Baghdad. The blasts occurred within five minutes of each other at approximately 11 a.m. Father Bashar Warda of St. Peter’s Seminary said that the coordinated bombings sent a clear warning to Christians. “There has been much violence against the Sunni and Shiites, while the Christians have been left alone, at least for [the past few months],” Warda told Compass. He said that the blasts let Christians know that, “whatever [violence] is happening around the country, you [Christians] will be part of it also.”

Muslim Clerics Warn Afghanistan President against Missionaries

The President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai has been told by the country’s Islamic council to stop foreign aid groups from converting locals to Christianity, ASSIST News Service reports, citing a story by Daniel Blake for christiantoday.com. Blake said, “The influential council of Islamic clergy and ulema (scholars) made the warning in a statement during a meeting with Karzai on Friday in which it also called for the reintroduction of public executions, which have not taken place since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.” "The council is concerned about the activities of some... missionary and atheistic [groups] and considers such acts against Islamic sharia (law), the constitution, and political stability," the council said in its statement. "If not prevented, God forbid, catastrophe will emerge, which will not only destablise the country, but the region and the world."

U.K. Missionaries Serve amid Tough Conditions

OneNewsNow.com reports that a missionary to the United Kingdom says many challenges exist when it comes to ministering in England. Bob and Debbie Bogart serve in Birmingham, England, through Mississippi-based Global Outreach. Bob, a pastor, says many western Europeans could care less about spiritual matters, but those who are committed Christians hunger for discipleship training. "You have Sunday school, but it's for children. Once they get past children's age, and children's ministries, if they go to church at all, most drop out. But if they go to church at all, they certainly don't get anything other than the preaching of the [Bible] and that's it -- and we can't survive on just that." Bob also commented on the growing influence of Islam: "There is a mosque in our area, and they have a big sign up with a picture of the Koran, and it says: 'al-Koran: The last testament. So they're trying to evangelize in their way."