Religion Today Summaries - June 9, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 9, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Week 9: China Arrests 20 Church Members
  • Refugee Status Denied over Jesus 'Trivia' Answer
  • D.C. Church Turns Owner of Historic Movie House
  • Indonesia Called to Protect Religious Freedom


Week 9: China Arrests 20 Church Members

As members of Shouwang Church continue to stand against Beijing police, members of other churches are showing solidarity with the illegal congregation. And, as Baptist Press reports, they also have been rounded up and arrested. At least 20 Christians were arrested Sunday, June 5, during Shouwang's ninth straight week of defying the government by attempting to worship outdoors in a Beijing public square. Eighteen of the Christians were Shouwang members, and two were members of other churches, although one of the members of the other churches apparently was arrested by mistake as he walked past the site. Sixteen of the Christians were released by midnight and the other four released at noon the next day. The congregation is trying to meet outdoors because the government pressured it out of its indoor facility.

Refugee Status Denied over Jesus 'Trivia' Answer

Officials in Canada have denied a Chinese Christian refugee status because he did not give a satisfactory description of what Jesus was "like as a person." According to the Ottawa Citizen, Chinese Christian Wu Xin Wang was in Canada on a work permit when he says his wife called him with a warning. She allegedly told him that Public Security Bureau has searched their home due to his participation in China's underground church network. In assessing Wang's refugee claim, board adjudicator Daniel Mc-Sweeney asked Wang: "So tell me about Jesus as a person. What was he like?" He did not accept answers such as "the son of God" and "he is my saviour," telling Wang they sounded too much memorized creed rather than personal experience. In a written ruling May 26, Federal Court Judge David G. Near said he could see no reason to overturn the decision.

D.C. Church Turns Owner of Historic Movie House

The Christian Post reports that one church is mixing Christianity and culture with the acquisition of a 1930s-style movie theater in Washington, D.C. National Community Church acquired the theater in the Barrack’s Row area of Capitol Hill as a complement to Ebenezers, the church's coffee house. The coffee house is the largest on Capitol Hill and has been operating for more than five years. “We like doing ministry in marketplace environments similar to how Jesus hung out at the well,” said Mark Batterson, who is the lead pastor of National Community Church. “Coffee houses are like postmodern wells and movie theaters are like the Aeropagus, marketplace of ideas, of American culture today.” The theater will play selected first-run, independent, and family films. “Why have a building that’s only used a couple times a week? I’m not sure that’s the best stewardship. So, we will have a movie house that will operate seven days a week,” Batterson said.

Indonesia Called to Protect Religious Freedom

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has expressed concerns over increasing violations of religious freedom in Indonesia. A CSW delegation returned last week from a three-week visit to Indonesia with first-hand evidence of increasing violence against religious minorities, particularly Christians and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. They visited churches in Bekasi and Bandung which have been forced to close, and met pastors who have faced increasing harassment, threats and attacks. CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “The trends in Indonesia which our team found are a cause for serious concern. Indonesia’s long and proud tradition of pluralism, religious harmony and religious freedom is at risk if the Government of Indonesia does not protect minorities, prosecute perpetrators of violence and curb radicalism in all its forms."