Religion Today Summaries - June 23, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 23, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Sudanese Bishop Fears Genocide after Independence
  • Ethiopia Sentences 579 Extremists for Church Burnings
  • China Detains House Church Members in Beijing
  • Blessed Are the Surfers, Priest Says


Sudanese Bishop Fears Genocide after Independence

The Bishop of Kadugli, Sudan, is calling upon Christians worldwide to pray and fast ahead of South Sudan’s secession on July 9. Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail has warned of a possible “genocide” in the Nuba Mountains region, where violence has broken out in recent weeks. Christian Today reports that the area has many Christian residents, but will be under the control of the Muslim North after South Sudan becomes an independent country. “Once again we are facing the nightmare of genocide of our people in a final attempt to erase our culture and society from the face of the earth,” said Bishop Elnail. North Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, has said the North will be ruled by sharia law after July 9. 

Ethiopia Sentences 579 Extremists for Church Burnings

Courts in Ethiopia have sentenced 579 Muslim extremists for three to 18 months in prison for their role in attacking Christians in March. The week-long violence left one Christian dead and 69 churches destroyed. According to International Christian Concern, 107 people are also accused of terrorism-related charges for their role in the attack, and eight gang leaders are still at large. More than 4,000 Christians in and around Asendabo, in the Jimma Zone of Ethiopia, were displaced as a result of the attacks. Following the court judgments this week, an Ethiopian church leader told ICC, “I am glad that the rule of law prevailed and the church has finally got protection from the government. The judges who looked at these cases have delivered justice. We are happy that the truth has finally been revealed.”

China Detains House Church Members in Beijing

Worthy News reports that police detained 16 more members of Beijing's Shouwang House Church and placed others under house arrest last weekend. Most were released by Sunday morning. Members of the government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement also visited these police stations to both "educate" and "admonish" the detained Shouwang congregants by urging them to join the official church. Members of Shouwang House Church have been trying to meet outside ever since the government forced them out of their meeting facilities in early April. A number of other Christians have joined Shouwang members in their protests. "I hope the government can see that the Shouwang incident is not an isolated case; rather, many churches in China want the same thing," said Wang Wenfeng of the Wenzhou China Theology Forum. "The most basic request is, 'Let us meet in public, and let us register. We Christians have nothing to hide.'"

Blessed Are the Surfers, Priest Says

Surfers brought their boards to church last Sunday in Montauk, New York, seeking a special blessing. St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church held its first-ever blessing of the boards on Father's Day, CNN reports. The Rev. Michael Rieder blessed the boards and the church and conducted another blessing at Ditch Plains Beach. "Dear God, your son walked on water but we know it would have been a lot more fun if he had a surfboard or boogie board," Rieder said as he splashed holy water onto the boards and their owners. "Let's ask his blessing as we play in the waves." The priest isn't a surfer but said he thought it would be a good way to get people interested in the church. "I started with just surfboards, skim boards, skate boards and boogie boards," Rieder told CNN of the blessings."