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Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 27, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 27, 2008

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

  • Saudi King Calls for Interfaith Dialogue
  • Ex-Muslims in Egypt Blocked from Declaring Conversion
  • Algeria Shuts Down 13 Protestant Churches
  • Police Call Church Music 'Disorderly'

Saudi King Calls for Interfaith Dialogue

An Associated Press story says the king of Saudi Arabia has made an impassioned plea for dialogue among Muslims, Christians and Jews — the first such proposal from a nation with no diplomatic ties to Israel and a ban on non-Muslim religious services and symbols. The message from King Abdullah was welcomed by Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders. "The idea is to ask representatives of all monotheistic religions to sit together with their brothers in faith and sincerity to all religions as we all believe in the same God," the king said at a seminar on "Culture and the Respect of Religions." The specifics of the initiative, including who would participate, remained unclear. It is unknown whether Israeli religious leaders would be invited.

Ex-Muslims in Egypt Blocked from Declaring Conversion

Christian-born converts to Islam in Egypt wishing to return to their former faith have found their way blocked by an appeal before the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court. Judge Muhammad Husseini asked Egypt’s top judicial body on March 4 to review the constitutionality of a law granting citizens the right to change religions. Egypt’s top administrative court used Article 47 of Egypt’s civil law to justify allowing 12 converts to Islam to return to Christianity last month. Compass Direct News reports that Husseini has demanded that the constitutional court rule on whether Article 47 conflicts with the Egyptian constitution’s second article, which designates Islam as the main source of legislation.

Algeria Shuts Down 13 Protestant Churches

The Christian Post reports that Algeria, a Sunni Muslim country, has ordered 13 Protestant churches to shut down since November. Churches were told to close their doors until they are issued a permit that allows non-Muslim groups to hold organized worship. Algeria passed a law in February 2006 that required non-Muslim congregations to obtain a permit from their regional prefecture to hold worship gatherings. It also banned the production of media intended to “shake the faith of a Muslim,” according to Compass Direct News. After the law’s passage, however, there had not been any enforcement and no Christian churches have been closed until recently.

Police Call Church Music 'Disorderly'

According to CNSNews.com, a Michigan church filed a federal lawsuit after police officers, led by a local prosecutor, entered the sanctuary at least twice without a warrant alleging the church's music was too loud and, in one instance, threatened to arrest church musicians for disorderly conduct. Faith Baptist Church, with a congregation of about 10,000 members, is suing local officials in the Township of Waterford, Mich., in a First Amendment case a church attorney said could have national ramifications in establishing what local governments can do in regulating churches. The suit - alleging the township violated the church's freedom of religious expression, freedom of speech and freedom of association - was filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Detroit after the church had been subject to what it describes as raids by the Waterford Police Department, led by township prosecutor Walter Bedell. At least one of those raids occurred during a Sunday service, according to the suit. The church played contemporary Christian music that included guitars, drums, and other instruments. Township officials contend they were simply trying to enforce local noise laws and that the church is being a bad neighbor.