Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 23, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 23, 2009

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

  • Sudan: Despite Assurances, Aid Groups Unsure of Future
  • Anglicans Form New Dioceses for Rival Body
  • Turkey: 'Insulting Turkishness' Case Proceeds
  • Iranian Extremists Threaten to Kill 3 Ex-Muslim Pastors

Sudan: Despite Assurances, Aid Groups Unsure of Future

Mission News Network (MNN) reports that new projects by aid groups in Sudan are in limbo despite government assurances that no more aid groups will be expelled. Thirteen foreign aid groups were kicked out of Darfur earlier this month after a world court issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir. Bashir then threatened to expel all foreign aid groups within one year. According to MNN, most groups now believe the threat will not be acted upon. Still, ministries are placing future projects "on hold" in southern Sudan. "This may stop long-term commitments to have a presence on the ground. What we're hoping for is to continue going in and doing short-term seminars and delivering short-term aid to churches. We don't know as of yet how this really will affect the situation for Every Child Ministries in Sudan," said Lorella Rouster with Every Child Ministries.

Anglicans Form New Dioceses for Rival Body

The Christian Post reports that several Anglican congregations in the southeast and northwest are ready to join the growing Anglican Church in North America, a rival church to the more liberal U.S. Episcopal Church. Seven congregations in Washington state have come together to form the "Diocese of Cascadia," and have formally requested membership in the new body. Meanwhile, 73 Anglican clergy and lay leaders in Jacksonville, Fla., are moving towards forming the "Anglican Diocese in the Southeast." "Today, we are committing to an Anglican reawakening and to contributing to a Christian reawakening for a revival here in the Pacific Northwest," said Fr. Kevin Bond Allen, president of the new Washington diocese.

Turkey: 'Insulting Turkishness' Case Proceeds

Compass Direct News reports that a Turkish court decided last month to try two Christians under a revised version of a controversial law for “insulting Turkishness” because they spoke about their faith A Silivri court on Feb. 24 received the go-ahead from the Ministry of Justice to try Christians Turan Topal and Hakan Tastan under the revised Article 301 – a law that has sparked outrage among proponents of free speech. The court had sent the case to the Ministry of Justice after the government put into effect a series of changes – which critics have called “cosmetic” – to the law. The justice ministry decision came as a surprise to Topal and Tastan and their lawyer, as missionary activities are not illegal in Turkey. Defense lawyer Haydar Polat said no concrete evidence of insulting Turkey or Islam has emerged since the case first opened two years ago.

Iranian Extremists Threaten to Kill 3 Ex-Muslim Pastors

The Christian Post reports that some Iranian Christians cannot escape threats even once they leave country. Three Iranian pastors in Athens, Greece, received a letter March 11 stating that, unless they return to Islam, they will found and killed as apostates. The letter, written by a radical group calling themselves "The Hezbelloah Party," accused the pastors of "anti-Islamic activities" and participation in "espionage organizations" against Iran. “Be aware that in these days that the power of the Islamic world is growing, it’s army and economy’s success have blinded the American and European government and have defeated and scared them," the letter reads. The group threatened to "fulfill our religious duty towards you" if the pastors do not convert back to Islam. The pastors currently work with Iranian and Afghani expatriates and refugees in Greece.