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Religion Today Summaries - July 22, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 22, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Thousands of South Sudanese Trapped in North
  • India: Five Pentecostal Pastors Arrested on False Charges
  • Willow Creek Splits with Exodus International
  • Church of England Will Not Die, Records Show


Thousands of South Sudanese Trapped in North

The Republic of South Sudan declared independence on July 9 and became the 193rd member of the United Nations a few days later. But ASSIST News Service reports that as the celebrations subside and the process of nation building begins, there is a stark reminder that this "national liberation" remains incomplete: tens of thousands Southern slaves remain in captivity in the North. "It is a sad irony," said Dr. Charles Jacobs, President of the American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG). "It was, after all, the enslavement of African villagers that animated and bolstered much of the rebellion in South Sudan. And it was reports of modern day human bondage in Africa's largest country that awoke Americans to the tragedy in Sudan." He says that in the campaign to Arabize and Islamize the African Christian/traditionalist South, the leaders of the Arab Muslim North killed almost 3 million and ethnically cleansed 4 million more.

India: Five Pentecostal Pastors Arrested on False Charges

Police have arrested three pastors of a Pentecostal group, the Gospel Messengers Team (GMT) and the couple who hosted them. According to Asia News, they are accused of trying to convert people to other religions, even by force. On the morning of July 13 about 150 Christians gathered at the house of Om Prakash for the regular weekly prayer, led by pastors AB Singh, Ganga Prasad and Robert of GMT. Later that morning, known leaders of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raided the meeting and threatened all those present. They falsely charged the pastors of having forcibly converted people to Christianity and of paying those present to attend. They were warned not to continue their ministry in the city. After a short time the police arrived, taking away Prakkash Om, his wife and three pastors, accusing them of forced conversions and other crimes.

Willow Creek Splits with Exodus International

Christianity Today reports that megachurch Willow Creek quietly parted ways with ex-gay ministry Exodus International in 2009, but the decision is just now coming to light. Scott Vaudrey, an elder at the South Barrington megachurch, said in writing that Willow Creek's decision was not intended as a social or political statement, but rather an indication of "a season of reviewing and clarifying some of our affiliations with outside organizations." Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, disagrees. "The choice to end our partnership is definitely something that shines a light on a disappointing trend within parts of the Christian community," he said, "which is that there are Christians who believe like one another who aren't willing to stand with one another, simply because they're afraid of the backlash people will direct their way if they are seen with somebody who might not be politically correct." Willow Creek had been heavily targeted by the pro-gay group Soulforce, Chambers said.

Church of England Will Not Die, Records Show

Leaders in Church of England recently gave a gloomy forecast, saying the denomination will die off in the next 20 years. According to The Christian Post, however, records may indicate a less ominous future. However, records from the Archbishops' Council's Research and Statistics Unit show that more than 36 percent of those who worship within the Church of England are under the age of 45. New statistics show that weekly services in Church of England cathedrals in 2011 is at 1.7 million people each month, a level that has been maintained since the turn of the millennium. The new statistics teams also show that since the turn of the millennium, the Church of England has steadily grown by a total of 37 percent, which is about four percent on average each year. George Pitcher, an author and an Anglican priest, said the clerical researchers who are noting the demise of the Church of England are using "methodologies that are fundamentally flawed."