Religion Today Summaries - July 8, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 8, 2008

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

  • Anglicans Take Key Vote on Women Bishops
  • China: Christian Persecution Persists Ahead of Beijing Olympics
  • Pakistan: Releases May Cause Backlash
  • India: Educator Arrested under ‘Anti-Conversion’ Law

Anglicans Take Key Vote on Women Bishops

Although the Anglican Communion has so far avoided schism over homosexuality and orthodoxy, the Communion now faces ramifications due to women bishops, the Agence France-Presse reports. The Church of England met in York last night to vote on whether to allow women bishops and what accommodations will be made for parishes which cannot accept them. More than 1,3000 clergy may break with the Church of England if they are not given legal safeguards that would create a network of male leadership - "super-bishops" answerable directly to the archbishop of York or Canterbury - serving those dissenting parishes. Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral in London, said: "If they are asking for special treatment, which I think we can supply, then they don't need to ask for it to be written in law because that says that we are not trusted to behave decently." The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are attempting to find a compromise between the two groups.

Christian Persecution Persists Ahead of Beijing Olympics

The Christian Post reports that less than a month before the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games, Chinese officials have yet to relent in their persecution of "unregistered" house churches and Christian businesses. The country claims to abide by international religious freedom standards, but has consistently arrested men such as Shi Weihan, a Christian bookstore owner who "illegally" printed some Christian literature that he was unauthorized to distribute, as well as Bibles. Shi has been held for three months without charges, more than a month beyond the Public Security Bureau's own rules allow. Meanwhile, unregistered house churches have been raided repeatedly. President Bush still plans to attend Beijing's opening ceremonies despite concerns about China’s human rights record. He explained that not going to the Olympics would be an “affront to the Chinese people” and would make it “more difficult to be able to speak frankly with the Chinese leadership,” according to the New York Times.

Pakistan: Releases May Cause Backlash

Compass Direct News reports that just weeks after the release of 16 Christians kidnapped by the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Islam in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, a government clampdown on extremist groups in the region has left Christians and locals fearing a backlash. On June 21, some 16 Christians were kidnapped in broad daylight in Peshawar’s affluent neighborhood of Academy Town in the North West Frontier Province, when militants burst into the compound where the group was worshiping and pulled the men into vans along with the Muslim renter of the compound. The Pakistan People’s Party government, in power since February, acted swiftly, ensuring the release of the Christian captives within 10 hours and drawing an apology from the militant group. But the local Christian community is unsure of the sincerity of the apology, and they fear the new government’s military offensive could invite retaliation. Ashar Dean, assistant director of communication of the Church of Pakistan Peshawar diocese,told Compass, “The situation in Peshawar remains tense, and all the security agencies are on standby.”

India: Educator Arrested under ‘Anti-Conversion’ Law

A Christian gospel worker was arrested in the Shyamgarh area of Madhya Pradesh state in India under the state’s anti-conversion law, ASSIST News Service reports. According to news issued by, Vinayagam David, who works with an organization called Blessing Youth Mission and runs a small children’s home, was arrested by the police on July 3 under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, also known as anti-conversion law, after someone lodged a complaint alleging the children were being forcibly converted and kept without proper documentation. David denies the charges, and says parents willing left their children at the home to ensure proper education. Upon David's arrest, the children were transferred to a government-run children's home instead of being sent back to their parents.