Religion Today Summaries - July 26, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 26, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Minneapolis Church with Norwegian Ties Honors Victims of Attacks
  • House Church Alliance’s No. 2 Sentenced to Labor Camp
  • 17-Year Ceasefire Broken in Burma; Thousands Flee
  • Funeral Held for Christians Killed in Nigeria Bombing


Minneapolis Church with Norwegian Ties Honors Victims of Attacks

More than 280 people packed Minneapolis' Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church on Sunday, honoring those killed in a bombing and mass shooting at a youth camp in Norway. The bombing of a government building in Oslo killed at least seven people, and more than 90 people - mostly teens - were killed in a mass shooting at the camp. The TwinCities Pioneer Press said most of those gathered in the 89-year-old church claim Norwegian descent. Many showed up in Norway sports jerseys with miniature flags. Ole Anton Hoel and Bjorn Overn, Norwegian nationals who were in Minnesota visiting friends, also attended the Mindekirke service before heading back to Europe on Sunday afternoon. "I am very touched by the service," Hoel said. "This deep reminds us how important it is to fight [the shooter's] ideals." Minnesota is home to the largest number of people of Norwegian heritage outside of Norway.

House Church Alliance’s No. 2 Sentenced to Labor Camp

China Aid reports that the deputy chairman of the Chinese House Church Alliance has been given a two-year labor camp sentence. The action is indicative of the intensifying crackdown on China’s unregistered house churches. Pastor Shi Enhao has been sentenced to two years of “re-education through labor,” an extra-judicial punishment that is handed out by police and requires no trial or conviction of a crime. It is often used for those who have committed minor criminal offenses or for dissidents and adherents of religious groups, such as house church Christians and Falun Gong practitioners. The charge on the sentencing papers is “illegal meetings and illegal organizing of venues for religious meetings.” This charge stems from the fact that Pastor Shi’s large house church of several thousand members meets in various different sites around the city. The greater significance of Shi’s sentencing on this charge has to do with the events surrounding the Shouwang Church in Beijing. The church made the controversial decision in April to meet outdoors after being evicted once again from its leased meeting site.

17-Year Ceasefire Broken in Burma; Thousands Flee

Last month, the Burmese (Myanmar) military ended a 17-year ceasefire, causing more than 20,000 civilians to flee their homes in Kachin state. According to Irrawaddy magazine and Worthy News, a respected publication in Burma, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is on high alert upon hearing rumors that Burmese government forces are planning a massive assault against KIA headquarters in Laiza this week. The crisis in Burma has been called "Burma's civil war without witnesses," due to reports that the Burmese Army has restricted access from all non-government organizations, international relief agencies, and independent media from reaching the affected areas. Fears of an imminent attack have caused thousands to flee, including attempting entry into China. China however, is denying refuge and terrified villagers are only able to find shelter in camps set up in certain areas by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

Funeral Held for Christians Killed in Nigeria Bombing

Members of a church in Suleja, Niger state, culminated a week of fasting and prayer on July 17 with a memorial service for three Christians killed in a bombing. According to Compass Direct News, Muslim militants from the Boko Haram threw a bomb into the building of the All Christian Fellowship Mission church on July 10 as members were leaving a Sunday worship service. At the funeral service for the three Christians that were killed, the Rev. William Okoye, general overseer of the church, lamented the lack of security in Nigeria. Members of Boko Haram are reportedly expected to launch a terrorist offensive at the end of this month, the two-year anniversary of the death of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf. Boko Haram has declared a jihad on the government in a bid to impose a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on the country. The explosion marks the third time this year that bombs have targeted institutions in Suleja, just outside the political heart of the nation.