Religion Today Summaries - June 20, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 20, 2008

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

  • Chinese Pastor Detained Before Meeting with EU Official
  • Bangledesh: Muslims Fight to Keep Church from Village
  • Iran: Crack Down on Christians
  • Iowa: Flooding over, But Cleanup Is Just Beginning

Chinese Pastor Detained Before Meeting With EU Official

ASSIST News Service reports that a Chinese pastor has been detained and hel at a Public Security Bureau office in Bejing, along with his interpreter. China Aid Association president Bob Fu was told over the phone that pastor Zhang was detained on Wednesday at a bus while he and his interpreter were on their way to meet with Dr. Bastiaan Belder (MEP), Rapporteur of the EP Committee of Foreign Affairs for the relationship between the EU and China, at Yanshan Hotel in Haidian District. Both men are being detained at the Shuangyushu PSB office of Haidian District, Beijing city. Pastor Zhang Mingxuan is the president of Chinese House Church Alliance. CAA says that Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese house church alliance, issued three open letters to the international community last year, informing the world to the sufferings and persecutions he has endured at the hands of the CPC. Since his conversion to Christianity in 1986, Pastor Zhang has been arrested, beaten and incarcerated 12 times

Bangledesh: Muslims Fight to Keep Church from Village

Compass Direct News Service reports that a court yesterday postponed until June 25 a hearing in west Algeria for a church leader on trial for evangelism. Already convicted of evangelism and blasphemy in two separate cases this year, Rachid Muhammad Essaghir, 37, believes he is being targeted for his work with Christians in Tiaret. The convert to Christianity, who regularly posts his telephone number on evangelistic Christian satellite TV programs, said that he has received death threats from Algerian journalist Haitham Rabani in recent months. A correspondent tracking Christianity in Algeria, Rabani told Compass that he did not threaten Essaghir but did send him text messages. At the same time, Rabani admitted threatening the host of an Al-Hayat Christian satellite talk show who is also named Rachid. “I told him, ‘If I capture you, I will kill you,’” Rabani told Compass, saying that he had not actually meant to carry out the threat.

Iran: Crack Down on Christians

Mission News Network reports that Iranian police have launched a more extensive crackdown on "social corruption" throughout the Islamic Republic. A religious law instated in February has caused increased concern, as it make sthe death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of leaving Islam. Those thought to be involved in Christian evangelism also face consequences ranging from the death penalty to social ostracism. "There has been, over the last 60 days, about a dozen Christians arrested. Most of them have been interrogated and held for a little while, and then released after paying a heavy bail," said Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton. Yet this is no cause for despair. "The church is growing at an absolutely phenomenal rate in Iran," Nettleton said. "Muslims are coming to know Christ; they're getting involved with these house church groups. That is what has caused the concern of the government."

Iowa: Flooding over, But Cleanup Is Just Beginning

The floodwaters may be receding, but a flood of debris has taken its place in several Iowa towns, according to the Associated Press. Thousands of homes were flooded, and now the slow clean up process begins as residents clear their homes of what were once possessions - now, piles of household items stack as high as six or seven feet in front yards. The American Red Cross has handed out thousands of cleanup kits with gloves, mops, scrub brushes and disinfectant, as well as pamphlets with safe cleaning instructions. "We all know mold comes along with these floodwaters and that can be a serious issue, so we ask people to take the proper precautions and take care of themselves as they are cleaning up," said Jennifer Pickar, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross in Cedar Rapids.