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Religion Today Summaries - January 3, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 3, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.


In today's edition:

New Lausanne Report Highlights Global Shift of Christianity

The Christian Post


A report released this month by the Lausanne Researchers’ Network highlights the profound southern geographical shift of global Christianity over the past hundred years. USA Evangelicals/Evangelicals in a Global Context provides new data on the southern shift in the evangelical movement from its roots in the United Kingdom and the United States. According to the study, over 80 percent of all Christians in 1900 were from Europe and North America, yet by 2005 it was under 45 percent. This statistic correlates with the finding that out of the estimated number of evangelicals worldwide – from 250 million to 688 million – most are increasingly found outside of the Western world. Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans are more typical representatives of evangelicalism than Americans or Europeans. People of African descent represent 30.8 percent of all Evangelicals, while Asian and Latin American make up 15 percent and 13.2, respectively. The report defines evangelicals as including all of the six Christian traditions (Anglican, Independent, Marginal, Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic), while Evangelicals (upper case) are mainly Protestant churches, agencies and individuals. Overall, the study shows that evangelicals continue to grow globally but in the U.S. they have been declining as a “raw percentage of the population.”


U.S. Archbishop Candid about Islamic Persecution of Christians

ASSIST News Service


"Archbishop Charles Chaput, of the diocese of Denver, broke free from politically correct restrictions to speak openly about growing Muslim persecution of Christians, in an address to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, of which he is a member." So wrote Gudrun Schultz in a recent story, in which he also quoted Archbishop Chaput as saying, “Anti-Christian discrimination and violence seem to be growing throughout the Islamic world. In the past several years, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and even Muslim-controlled areas of the heavily Catholic Philippines have all seen extraordinary acts of bloodshed against Christians.” He went on to say, “The Archbishop expressed his concern over consistent lack of media attention given to acts of violence against Christians.” Schultz quoted the Archbishop as saying, “Three things distinguish anti-Christian persecution and discrimination around the world. First, it’s ugly. Second, it’s growing. And third, the mass media generally ignore or downplay its gravity.” The Archbishop ended his address with a warning that localized acts of violence against Christians by extremists threaten relationships between Christians and Muslims worldwide, “something neither community of faith can afford.”


Focus on the Family Challenges Christians on Abortion in the Church

Christian Newswire


As churches prepare to celebrate Sanctity of Human Life Week January 15-22, Focus on the Family has challenged clergy members to consider recent statistics on abortion which found that one in five women choosing to abort pregnancies self-identified themselves as Evangelical Christian. Kim Conroy, Sanctity of Human Life Director for Focus on the Family believes that it's time for churches to be proactive on this issue. "Every post-abortive woman sitting in our churches needs to know that there is help and forgiveness available -- and it's our hope during this Sanctity Week that pastors and other clergy will extend that to her." Conroy added that while abortion is always a tough topic to discuss, especially when considering the emotions of someone who has experienced it firsthand, it is vital that churches prioritize talking about this growing problem. "Justice, mercy and compassion must be at the forefront of the conversation if we truly desire to extend healing to the women in our churches affected by abortion -- both those who've already experienced it and those who are right now contemplating it," Conroy said.


Peru: 'Religion & Politics a Dangerous Combination'

Spero News


"Religión and Politics is an explosive combination that should be avoided," warned Augusto Alvarez Rodrich, director of Peru 21, in a recent editorial. "Trying to associate politics with religion, with skin color, or with your bedmate can only lead to the belief - certainly erroneous - that the creed, the race or sex make some better than others which is not only false but dangerous." Peru is slated to hold general elections in April. The editorial was published after confirmation that the former President of the Jewish Association of Peru Isaac Mekler was running for Congress on a Peruvian Nationalist Party ticket. The party is led by former army officer Ollanta Humala, who has risen strongly in recent polls. Talk in Peru is that if elected Humala could bring miliary conflict upon the nation, as it is said that he is seriously considering demanding both Ecuador and Chile return land lost under previous governments. Humala is trailing the leading candidate, right-wing female Lourdes Flores who has so-far surprised contenders in this country that still clings to a macho ethic. Another Peruvian group with Evangelical connections, the Democratic Reconstruction Party, is struggling with an internal conflict between two factions. “Evangelical Christians should integrate existing spaces in civil society with humility and decision, recognizing that they are not the first or the only ones who want the exercise of political power to be for common good,” said Dennis Smith, president of the World Association for Christian Communication-Latin American Region. "We must participate and contribute to community groups that work in favor of citizen security, in human rights defense groups, in collectives that struggle for transparency in public management, combating corruption," said Smith, a Presbyterian missionary who works in the Evangelical Center of Pastoral Studies of Central America in Guatemala. Smith was critical of confessional Evangelical parties that, based on the growth of the number of faithful, seek to transform the ethical, moral and social life of a nation: "We Evangelicals have considered ourselves to be a group of illuminated people, bearers of privileged knowledge, practicing holiness and justice. But in practice, our daily behavior we have not managed to differentiate ourselves from others.”