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Religion Today Summaries - July 18, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 18, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • China Ordains Third Bishop without Pope's Approval
  • Josh Harris Resigns from Sovereign Grace Board
  • Vietnam Massacre of Hmong Christians, Pastors 'Beheaded'
  • Nepal Church Workers Unfazed by Anti-Conversion Bill


China Ordains Third Bishop without Pope's Approval

China's state-sanctioned Catholic church pushed forward Thursday with the ordination of a bishop without the Vatican's approval. Reuters reports the move is likely to further strain tense relations between the Chinese government and the Vatican. Joseph Huang Bingzhang was ordained as bishop in Shantou city in southern Guangdong province. About 1,000 people attended the public ceremony, but at least eight bishops loyal to the Holy See were coerced into participating. "All 8 bishops were requested by civil authorities to go and ordain the new illicit bishop," said several sources, all of whom refused to be named because of the matter's sensitivity. "All of them were accompanied by the police to the place of the event. The majority of the bishops refused and resisted to go." The ordination is the latest in a long-running dispute between the Vatican and Beijing over the status of China's state-backed Church, which has disregarded injunctions not to name bishops without papal authorization.

Josh Harris Resigns from Sovereign Grace Board

A week after C.J. Mahaney took a leave of absence, another Sovereign Grace Ministries leader has stepped down. SGM announced Thursday that pastor Joshua Harris, who succeeded Mahaney as Covenant Life Church's senior pastor in 2004, has resigned from SGM's board. A statement from SGM interim president Dave Harvey cited differences over whether God is disciplining all of SGM and how to move forward and evaluate the claims against Mahaney. But Harvey said Harris had agreed to keep attending board meetings when requested and give counsel, Christianity Today reports. Mahaney took his leave of absence amid "greving" charges of "pride" and "hypocrisy" regarding his leadership. Many bloggers have labeled Harris as the most receptive to critcism of SGM as a whole. On Sunday, Harris stated in his sermon that "our denomination is being publicly spanked, we are being humiliated and being brought low."

Vietnam Massacre of Hmong Christians, Pastors 'Beheaded'

Worthy News reports that Vietnamese security forces allegedly beheaded pastors and shot to death many more Hmong Christians in May. All of them had gathered to await Christ's return due to California-based broadcaster Harold Camping's predictions. Following the broadcasts, some 7,000 Hmong Christians attempted to gather "on a mountain praising God" in late April and early May, but instead found "police and military police" who slaughtered "many of them at gunpoint, beheading two pastors," said James Jacob Prasch, executive director of Moriel Ministries (MM). International rights activists had suggested that dozens of Hmong Christians may have been killed, but Prasch suggested the real figure may be higher. "I am told by Hmong pastors that so many were shot dead that they were buried in mass graves bulldozed over," he added. Others were reportedly detained. Vietnamese officials in Dien Bien province have accused 'sabotage forces' of stoking secessionist demands, and denied reports of a massacre.

Nepal Church Workers Unfazed by Anti-Conversion Bill

Nepal's lawmakers are hurrying to finish the country's new penal code, hoping it will stabilize the country if it misses the August 31 deadline for a new constitution. Mission Network News reorts that the submitted penal code currenlty includes a proposal that would ban all religious propagation. The effective ban on conversions, however, does not worry Christians. Ty Stakes, Regional Director for HCJB Global Asia Pacific, says persecution is nothing new to these Christians. "Almost everybody I know that is a Christian has experienced some sort of persecution from their families," he said. "Many of the leaders I know that are older, who lived through the times before the mid 80s and earlier (and were Christians), have been in jail, and they have been prosecuted previously by the government for their faith." He finished, "My friends in Nepal see the political instability as evidence of a continued open door for them to reach out to their communities, to their people for the Gospel."