Religion Today Summaries - June 10, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 10, 2008

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

  • China: House Church Crackdown Intensifies
  • Gay Bishop Enters into Civil Union
  • Jordan: Marriage of 'Apostate' Annulled
  • Church of England Blasts British Gov.

China: House Church Crackdown Intensifies

Though the Chinese government has always persecuted house churches, a new reports indicates that the approaching Bejing Olympics have unleashed the first systematic crackdown, the Christian Post reports. The report, called "China: Persecution of Protestant Christians in the Approach to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games" by U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide and U.S.-based China Aid Association, documents governmental funding to the Ministry of Public Security for a campaign to eradicate house churches throughout China. Tactics used to crack down on unregistered Christians include: targeting well-established unregistered churches; sending landlords directives ordering them to not rent space to those engaging in religious activities; charging Christians in the Xinjiang region of separatism; expelling foreign Christians; targeting repression at the Chinese House Church Alliance; and carrying out the largest mass sentencing of house church leaders in 25 years.

Gay Bishop Enters into Civil Union

Reuters reports that the Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly homosexual U.S. Episcopal bishop who catalyzed the Anglican church's global battle over homosexuality, has entered into a civil union with his longtime partner. Robinson and his partner of more than 19 years, Mark Andrew, held the private ceremony in St. Paul's Church in New Hampshire Saturday. "It was absolutely joyful," Mike Barwell, Robinson's spokesman said by telephone. "A lot of his supporters and friends were there, including many members of the gay and lesbian community." The Episcopal Church consecrated Robinson in 2003 as the first bishop known to be in an openly homosexual relationship in more than four centuries of church history. He has been excluded from the Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference but plans to attend as an outside observer.

Jordan: Marriage of 'Apostate' Annulled

Compass Direct News reports that the North Amman Sharia Court in Jordan in April dissolved the marriage of Mohammad Abbad, on trial for apostasy. “Marriage depends on the creed [religion], and the apostate has no creed,” a May 22 court document stated, detailing reasons for the April 22 marriage annulment. The 40-year-old convert to Christianity fled Jordan with his wife and two young children in March after another Christian convert’s relatives attacked Abbad’s family in their home and his father demanded custody of Abbad’s children. Jordan’s penal code does not outlaw apostasy, and the country’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, as does the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that was given force of law in the country in June 2006. But Islam, Jordan’s official religion, forbids conversion to another faith.

Church of England Blasts British Gov.

According to a story by Britain’s Press Association, ASSIST News Service reports, sources say a highly critical study by the Church of England accuses the British governments of Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown of focusing “intently“ on minority faiths, while neglecting the Church of England. As a result, discrimination against the Christian faith has taken hold. The study accuses the British Government of ignoring the breakdown in society, and failing to recognize the Church's potential contribution to public affairs. In contrast, the Press Association said, the study, titled “Moral, But No Compass,” praises the Conservatives for what it calls their “strident“ plans to tackle poverty. It calls for a minister for religion to be appointed, and accuses the government of “religious illiteracy.”