Religion Today Summaries - June 23, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 23, 2009

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

  • Southern Baptists Aim to Stem Decline
  • Sudan Faces Permanent Humanitarian Emergency
  • Indian Central Government to Block Anti-Conversion Bill
  • Tanzania: Zanzibar Evicts Congregation from Building

Southern Baptists Aim to Stem Decline

The Washington Times reports that the Southern Baptist Convention leaders meet this week to remember the Gospel's call to "Love Loud." The denomination has experienced flagging baptisms and slightly declining membership over the last year. "Membership and baptism figures are in large part the products of a declining birthrate among whites as well as the suburbanization of America," Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Johnny Hunt wrote in an open letter to Southern Baptists last month. "If we are to continue to grow, we need to shift our church-planting strategy" to urban areas and minority groups. Hunt is encouraging the denomination to pass the torch to the next generation of pastors and get back to action-centered mission in America, not just across the world.

Sudan Faces Permanent Humanitarian Emergency

The Christian Post reports that Sudan may not physically recover from its catastrophic past for years to come, according to a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations. “Sudan faces a lot of challenges,” Catholic Bishop Eduardo Kussala of Tombura Yambio said. “There is an ongoing humanitarian crisis. People don’t have access to healthcare, education, water and protection from high levels of violence.” Malnutrition in south Sudan is at 16 percent, and hundreds of thousands of refugees rely almost exclusively on aid groups for food, shelter and medical care. The country also has the world's highest maternal mortality rate. “We need to be very vigilant ... and make sure the live-saving gaps are filled," said John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

Indian Central Government to Block Anti-Conversion Bill

ASSIST News Service reports that the Indian central government is planning to block anti-conversion bills cropping up throughout the states, but the response is not uniform. The bills have been introduced by nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state governments throughout India. P. Chidambaram, the Home Minister of India, has decided to take a firm stand against the controversial anti-religious conversion bill. But the response is different for various state governments. The bills’ broad provisions ban conversion by “force or fraud or inducement” and make it punishable. But all this, the central government says, is a violation of the freedom of religion as laid down in the constitution.

Tanzania: Zanzibar Evicts Congregation from Building

Compass Direct News reports that a pastor in Zanzibar City said his church is without a worship place after government officials evicted the congregation from their rented building. With just two days’ notice, officials ordered Christians of the Church of God Zanzibar from their rented government building effective April 19, ostensibly to pave the way for renovations. But two months later, said pastor Lucian Mgayway, no renovation work has begun and none appears to be forthcoming. The government has not only failed to renovate the building but has since turned it into a business site, Pastor Mgaywa said. “Our being told to vacate the premise by the government was a calculated move to disintegrate the church and to please the Muslims who do not want us to be in this particular area,” he said.