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Religion Today Summaries - June 24, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 24, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Brutal Beheading: Taliban Murder Afghan Christian
  • Rhetoric Turns Up Heat on Iranian Christians
  • Evangelicals Say Secularism, Not Islam, Is Top Threat
  • Groups Join Sudanese Bishop in Day of Prayer


Brutal Beheading: Taliban Murder Afghan Christian

Afghans are warning of dire consequences for the country’s tiny Christian population as some American forces prepare to leave Afghanistan. As a recent, gruesome incident makes clear that the danger for anyone turning from Islam in Afghanistan is not over. A video released in recent weeks, and made available to WORLD Magazine this week by two separate Afghan sources, shows four Afghan militants beheading a man believed to be a Christian in Herat Province. The militants, who claim to be Taliban, captured the victim, a man in his 40s named Abdul Latif, earlier this year from his village outside Enjeel, a town south of Herat. In the video, they read a paper degree condemning him for leaving Islam and sentencing him to death. They then carry out the sentence on the video. Many Christians are critical of the Karzai government, but fear a Taliban return to power more.

Hostile Rhetoric Turns Up Heat on Iranian Christians

Increased public statements against Christianity in Iran have intensified pressures on Christians, sources said, but that's not all. At their core, the statements reflect Islamic leaders’ dismay with the growth of house churches and may signal dissension within Iran’s leadership. “The reality is most of the house churches are so hidden that the government can’t do anything, and they know it,” said a regional expert who requested anonymity, Compass Direct News reports. “They just see how the house churches are still growing.” In May, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi said authorities have not done enough to quench the growth of Christian house churches, considering the “massive funding” the government has spent toward that end. Experts believe public attacks on Christians resulted in the arrest of more than 120 Iranian Christians between December and January.

Evangelicals Say Secularism, Not Islam, Is Top Threat

Evangelicals from around the world fear one thing religious trend more than any other: secularism. Slightly over 70 percent of global evangelical leaders at the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization named secularism as a major threat. Meanwhile, only 47 percent said the influence of Islam is a major threat. The survey, conducted by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, polled more than half of the 4,000-plus evangelical leaders from over 190 nations last fall in South Africa. Evangelical leaders from the Global North (86 percent) more often felt secularism is a threat to the evangelical faith than those in the Global South (59 percent). “To put it in context, it is not as though it is not seen as a threat, it is just that secularism in its associated practices tend to be seen as much more of a threat,” said Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, according to Voice of America.

Groups Join Sudanese Bishop in Day of Prayer

The Institute on Religion & Democracy is urging churches to answer the call of an Anglican bishop for a day of prayer and fasting for Sudan June 26. The request comes from the Rt. Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail, Bishop of Kadugli and Nuba Mountains. Since June 5, the people of Nuba Mountains have continuously been attacked by Sudanese Armed Forces and Arab militia. He said, "This is a war of domination and eradication, at its core it is a war of terror by the government of Sudan against their people." Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury and the Lutheran World Federation have made similar statements of solidarity with the emerging nation, asking Christians worldwide to pray as the set independence day of July 9 draws near.