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Religion Today Summaries - June 11, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 11, 2007

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

  • 'March for Jesus' Draws Over 1 Million Evangelicals in Brazil
  • Declining Christian Population a Fact of Life in Arab Societies
  • Wife who Killed Pastor Husband May Serve 60 Days
  • Imprisoned Indonesian Sunday School Teachers Released

'March for Jesus' Draws Over 1 Million Evangelicals in Brazil

The Christian Post reports that evangelicals from across Brazil flooded San Paulo last Thursday for the “March for Jesus” event as live Christian bands accompanied the more than one million marchers. The annual march, organized by evangelical churches, featured a concert with 30 Christian bands carried on 17 flatbed trucks performing live as participants marched through Brazil’s financial capital, according to Agence France-Presse. Participants also protested homosexuality ahead of what some regard as the world’s largest gay pride parade on Sunday. Seventy-four percent of Brazilians described themselves as Catholics in 2000, dropping from 84 percent in 1990, according to AP. Meanwhile, 15 percent called themselves evangelical Protestants, up from 9 percent in 1990.

Declining Christian Population a Fact of Life in Arab Societies

According to AINA, Iraq's 700,000 Christians look back on 1998 as the good old days as a murderous civil war rips apart the fabric of a society in which they once played a small but vital role. Theirs is just one of several Christian communities in the Middle East that has shrunk dramatically over the past decade. "The process began at the turn of the century and it has intensified in recent years," says Hilal Khashan, political science chair at the American University of Beirut. "There are 12 million Christians in the Middle East. If the current trend continues, there will be fewer than 6 million by 2025." Estimates of the current Christian population vary, and census figures may be inaccurate or out of date, as migration continues in record numbers. Wars in Iraq and Lebanon have accelerated the exodus, along with burgeoning violence in the Palestinian Territories.

Wife who Killed Pastor Husband May Serve 60 Days

According to an AP story, Mary Winkler, who killed her preacher husband with a shotgun blast to the back as he lay in bed was sentenced Friday to three years in prison, but she may end up serving only 60 days in a mental hospital, as she gets credit for five months already spent in jail. The 33-year-old was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in April and could have received up to six years.

Imprisoned Indonesian Sunday School Teachers Released

A small crowd gathered to welcome Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun as they walked free from the Indramayu district prison in West Java, Indonesia early this morning. They had served nearly two years of their three-year sentence. The three women were arrested in May 2005 and sentenced to prison that September for allowing Muslim children to attend their Sunday school program, even though the parents had consented to their children’s attendance. Authorities quietly moved the release from 9 a.m. to 6 a.m. after Muslim extremists said they would gather outside the prison to protest the reduced sentence. During their 2005 trial, Muslim extremists had made murderous threats within and outside the courtroom. The women said they had no fears for the future and were convinced that God would protect and guide them forward. “It was really moving to see how the other prisoners cried when they waved goodbye to them,” an eyewitness told Compass Direct News.