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Religion Today Summaries, January 27, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, January 27, 2003

In Today's Edition:

  • U.S. Delegation Presses Russian on Religious Freedom
  • Nigerian Police Kill Four Christians, Injure Eight
  • Moscow, In Need of Christian Workers, 'Largely Forgotten' After Communism
  • Bible School's Devil of a Problem

U.S. Delegation Presses Russian on Religious Freedom

(RNS) A top-level religious freedom delegation from Washington on Friday wrapped up a weeklong fact-finding trip to Russia by expressing concern for the plight of religious minorities in the overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian nation.  "I must say the situation is a fragile one," said Felice D. Gaer, a human rights expert with the American Jewish Committee who heads the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.  "We're confident that our concerns have been heard and the future will be different."  The commission, which advises the U.S. president, secretary of state and Congress on foreign religious freedom matters, spent the week in the Russian capital meeting with government officials, religious leaders and human rights activists.  The last year has been one of the most difficult for religious freedom in Russia since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. At least 10 Protestant missionaries, four Catholic priests and a Catholic bishop were expelled from Russia without explanation. In December, a leaked draft government report identified Catholics as the No. 1 religious threat to Russia's national security, outranking Protestants, Muslims and Satanists.

Nigerian Police Kill Four Christians, Injure Eight

(Compass) Officers from the Nigeria federal police force killed four Catholic Christians and injured eight others as the group was returning home on a bus from a crusade and all-night prayer vigil.  Charity Chukwu, 18, one of the passengers who managed to escape, said that police stopped the vehicle carrying the group to Enugu and demanded a bribe. “ The bus driver refused to offer the bribe because he was a Christian,” she said. “  (The police) shot him point-blank and he died instantly.”  When members of the group tried to calm the policemen, they were also shot dead.  The rest fled on foot.  Appalled by the killings, Enugu governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju ordered federal police units to withdraw from the state and threatened to resign if the federal government does nothing to address the misuse of weapons by security forces.  The killers are presumed to be members of a federal anti-riot squad.

Moscow, In Need of Christian Workers, 'Largely Forgotten' After Communism
Michael Foust

(Baptist Press) For decades Moscow was the capital of communism, the heart of atheism.  Public worship was prohibited.  The proclamation of the gospel was forbidden. Christians surely gathered -- but only in private.  The fall of the Soviet Union now has made communist Moscow a relic of the past.  However, from an evangelical standpoint, it's hard to tell.  Of the city's 12 million citizens, roughly 10,000 are Christian.  Baptist missionary Troy Bush believes Muscovites are open to the gospel, and he senses a responsibility to spread Christ's message.  "Moscow is so large and so diverse," Bush said recently in a telephone interview.  "The idea that most Muscovites were once atheists I don't think ever was true," Bush said. "I think the academia and the intelligentsia largely were atheists, but most Muscovites are religious and have some type of religious practices. The majority of the people today would still say they are [Russian] Orthodox, but the majority of them have no active participation in the Orthodox Church."  www.bpnews.net

Bible School's Devil of a Problem

(Charisma News) Kentucky Mountain Bible College has a devil of a problem.  The small Appalachian school is asking its local telephone company to come up with a new number to replace its current, apocalyptic prefix of 666.  "People say, 'You're a Bible college, and you have 666 in your phone number?'" said Carlene Light, an office worker at the nondenominational college in Vancleve.  "It's the connotation.  No one wants to be part of the mark of the beast."  Students want the school's prefix to be changed to 693, which was recently added in the area after all the 666 numbers were taken, said vice president for business affairs, Rob Roy MacGregor, the Associated Press reported.  "In the secular world, 666 is not a problem," he said.  "It is for us."  Kaye Davis, general counsel for Access Point, the North Carolina company that serves the college, said that they planned to change the number as soon as possible.  "I certainly understand, being a Bible college, that the number 666 would cause some questions," she said.  www.charismanews.com