Religion Today Summaries - July 31, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 31, 2008

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Bush Meets with Chinese Activists
  • Sudan: Ministries Help Prepare for 2009 Election
  • Iran: Jailed Christian in Critical Condition
  • Ethiopia: Interfaith Peace Council Launches

Bush Meets with Chinese Activists

Christian Post reports President George W. Bush met to "discuss his concerns about human rights in China" with five Chinese activists Tuesday. According to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, Bush assured them of his stance of China's human rights abuses and said he will bring those concerns with him to Beijing, where he will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao along with attending Olympic events. "Engagement with Chinese leaders gives him an opportunity to make the United States' position clear, human rights and religious freedom should not be denied to anyone," Perino said. The meeting follows an Amnesty International report Tuesday that accused Chinese authorities of "tarnishing the legacy of the games by withholding access to journalists, blocking many Web sites, and cracking down on human rights activists.

Sudan: Ministries Help Prepare for 2009 Election

Mission News Network reports that peace may be on paper in Sudan, but an agreement to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in July 2009 may plunge the country back into war. The North-South civil war killed almost two million people and cost four million more their homes, wreaking even more destruction than Darfur between 1983 and 2005, when the peace agreement was signed. Now, ministries such as Sammy Tippit Ministries and Eternal Concepts are helping churches prepare for the worst and prepare to spread the gospel. Discipleship seminars are helping students and church leaders learn not only evangelism, but essentials of the faith and how they apply to the current situation. One seminar included 40 youth leaders from various churches and the denominational heads of all five major churches in Southern Sudan.

Iran: Jailed Christian in Critical Condition

Compass Direct News reports that a diabetic Iranian Christian jailed for two months is in critical condition due to lack of medical treatment, even as new reports of arrests against Christians surfaced this week. Mahmood Matin and Arash Bandari have become frail from more than two months in prison, but the condition of Bandari, who suffers from diabetes, is critical. After two months of solitary confinement at a secret police detention center known by its address, Sepah Street 100, located in the center of Shiraz, Matin and Arash were placed in a cell together around July 15, sources told Compass. In the past 10 days, Iran’s Christians have reported that another wave of arrests hit four cities. Christians attending house churches in Bandar Abbas on the southern coast, in Isfahan 334 kilometers (207 miles) south of Tehran, and in Sanandaj and Kermanshah on the Iraqi border were arrested. Sources told Compass that Christians in these cities were held anywhere from one day to a week by the government. 

Ethiopia: Interfaith Peace Council Launches

ASSIST News Service reports that United Religions Initiative (URI), an organization committed to creating inter-faith dialogue announced the launch of a National Interfaith Peace Council in Ethiopia on Tuesday. A press release issued by URI noted: “Religions and faith based organizations have a major role to play in promoting a culture of peace, healing and reconciliation.” URI went on to report that The Peace Council was comprised of representatives from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Islamic Supreme Council, Ethiopian Catholic Church, Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church, the Baha'i Faith and Interfaith Peace-building Initiative. Meanwhile, a mob of Islamic extremists stoned Seid Ahmed and Musa Ibrahim [names changed for security reasons] in Jijiga, a city on border with Somalia. The attack is the latest attack against Christians in Ethiopia where the spread of radical Islam is fueling the persecution of Christians.