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Religion Today Summaries - June 5, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 5, 2008

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

  • China: Christians Detained for Sending Aid
  • Iran: Christians Released on Bail
  • Burma: GAiN rebuilds communities
  • UK: Religious Education an HR Violation

China: Christians Detained for Sending Aid

ASSIST News Service reports that officials from the Public Security Bureau (PSB) and Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) disrupted the house church meeting and forcefully detained seven of the participants during a Sunday service at Taikang County, Henan Province, on June 1. China Aid Association (CAA) said that police officials did not state the reason for the detention. During interrogation, police officials questioned the members as to who would be taking donations to the earthquake disaster area. Six remain in detention under a charge of sending money to a disaster area in the name of a house church. Two Christians in Hua county, Henan province were detained under the charge of religious inciting on obstruction to earthquake relief work. One was released on June 2 after paying a 500Yuan penalty and gifts worth more than 4,000Yuan value to PSB officers. Another one is said to be released on June 3.

Iran: Christians Released on Bail

Compass Direct News reports that late yesterday afternoon authorities in Shiraz set free 21-year-old Mojtaba Hussein, charged with "activities against our holy religion," requiring a bail guarantee worth US$20,000. The same charge has been leveled against Hamoyon Shokohie Gholamzadeh, 58, another former Muslim arrested on May 11 along with three family members. But the charges against six other converts arrested with the men accuse them only of “activities against the country.” Two other former Muslims arrested in a Shiraz park on May 13 remain jailed, their location and condition unknown. Another Christian convert arrested with his wife in late April elsewhere in Iran was ordered released three days ago after posting bail based on his home's worth. “This is the pattern they usually follow,” said an Iranian pastor now living abroad. “They put them in jail for a few weeks, beat them, and put a lot of pressure on them to get information about the other converts.”

Burma: GAiN rebuilds communities

According to the Mission News Network, Global Aid Network (GAiN) has committed to long-term rebuilding in Myanmar communities devastated by Cyclone Nargis, working with six villages desperately in need aid. GAiN will rebuild homes and schools in each village over the next months, and is training 40 local people to build water filtration system that use readily available natural materials. Ten systems will be installed in the next month, including one in each village. GAiN USA’s water filtration expert and trainer commented, “The locals were so excited and so willing to work. It has been so good to work with them.” The cyclone destroyed rice fields and contaminated the water supply of the Irrawaddy Delta region, and thousands of unrecovered bodies continue to putrefy water supplies.

UK: Religious Education an HR Violation

Though Christianity is the official religion of the United Kingdom, lawmakers and activists are working to extract religious activity in British schools, saying that teenagers' human rights are being violated. According to Cybercast News Service, students in most public schools are required to take religious education classes and participate in acts of collective worship. Many schools already neglect daily worship, and several exceptions apply to the requirement. Last month, a parliamentary human rights committee issued a report recommending that students below the age of 16 also be allowed to opt out of religious education classes and daily worship as long as they have "sufficient maturity, intelligence and understanding." The lawmakers said forcing a student to engage in these activities violated the European Convention on Human Rights, the report said.