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Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 3, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 3, 2008

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

  • Former UN Secretary-General Leaves Kenya after Making Peace Deal
  • Anti-Christian Sentiments Boil Over in India’s Capital
  • Iraq's Chaldean Christians
  • State Investigates Methodists in Russia at Orthodox Bishop’s Request

Former UN Secretary-General Leaves Kenya after Making Peace Deal

ASSIST News Service reports that former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has left Kenya after helping secure a deal between the country's rival political leaders. The BBC report that Mr. Annan successfully mediated in talks following the presidential election in December which the opposition said was flawed by vote rigging. A thousand people have been killed in violence since the poll on December 27, 2007. The power-sharing deal gave opposition leader Raila Odinga the post of executive prime minister, the BBC said. Annan has said he will be back in Kenya to monitor progress in efforts to reform Kenya's constitution and institutions. He urged all Kenyans to take part in building a healed and reconciled country, and not leave it to the politicians. "I would urge all of you to remain engaged," he said in a message to Kenyans on his departure. We want Kenya to return to the old Kenya: stable, peaceful, prosperous and welcoming."

Anti-Christian Sentiments Boil Over in India’s Capital

India’s national capital witnessed two incidents of anti-Christian violence this week, including an attack on a relief organization official by a large mob of Hindu extremists. In New Delhi’s Kalyanpuri area, a worker from Gospel Mission of India (GMI) was helping to unload a truck carrying gift packets for poor children when a crowd of the Hindu nationalists led by a councilor from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) approached charging GMI with conversion by allurement. Peter Banerjee, state coordinator of GMI, told Compass Direct News that when he arrived at the police station to answer the charges, the mob there began beating him. Police managed to protect Banerjee as the crowd swelled to over 500 and did not file a complaint against any Christians. On Sunday (February 24), around 30 extremists suspected to be from the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal pelted St. Sebastian Church with stones and vandalized vehicles of church members in New Delhi’s Dilshad Garden area.

Iraq's Chaldean Christians

According to BBC News, there are an estimated 50,000 Christians in Mosul, Iraq's third largest city. But a rise in religiously-motivated attacks has prompted many Christians to leave Iraq, as a number of Christian clergy have been kidnapped or killed by Sunni extremist groups. Several religious institutions have been targeted by bombings. Estimates indicate up to 60,000 Christians have fled Iraq since 2003. Who are these Chaldean Christians? Some facts from the BBC report: Chaldeans form the majority of Iraq's estimated 550,000 Christians. Their spiritual leader is Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, who is based in Baghdad and made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. His Church originally comprised members of the Nestorian Church, and has had a presence in the country now known as Iraq since the 2nd Century. Nestorianism ascribes to the belief that Jesus Christ has two natures - that of a divine Son of a God, and that of a mortal human. Perhaps the best known Iraqi Chaldean is Saddam Hussein's former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz.

State Investigates Methodists in Russia at Orthodox Bishop’s Request

According to ASSIST News Service, at the request of a Russian Orthodox bishop, government departments in the western city of Smolensk have conducted a series of check-ups on a local Methodist church and forced it to remove plans for a missionary college from its website. The check-ups were made by the regional Public Prosecutor's Office, Organized Crime Police, Department for the Affairs of Minors, Education Department and ordinary police. According to Geraldine Fagan, writing for Forum 18 News Service (www.forum18.org), Bishop Ignati (Punin) of Vyazma claimed the college "aims not to bring about the rebirth of the spiritual-moral foundations of the life of our people, but its spiritual destruction." He then asked the Regional Public Prosecutor "to take the measures necessary in this situation to defend the inhabitants of our city, particularly youth, from this pseudo-religious organization." Even though the Bishop's appeal contained no legal argument, the Public Prosecutor's Office explained to Forum 18 that it reacted because: "Any citizen or organization may appeal to us."