Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 31, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 31, 2008

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

  • Minister to Apologize to People Condemned by Christians
  • Middle East Expert: No Churches in Saudi Arabia unless Mohammed Recognized
  • Algeria Orders Closure of 19 Protestant Congregations
  • Face of Christianity Will Soon be Black, Says Scholar

Minister to Apologize to People Condemned by Christians

A Baptist minister says that while the Christian church has done many wonderful things throughout history, it has also been responsible for some awful actions. ASSIST News Service reports that pastor Richard Mark Lee said those issues include targeting, judging and condemning a number of individuals and groups. According to a story by Rebecca McCarthy published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), Lee had planned to apologize Sunday for these past wrongs in a sermon at his church, Sugar Hill Baptist, known as The Family Church. Some of the groups Lee said he'll apologize to include gays, women seeking abortions and couples who live together outside of marriage. “For too long, we're been known for the issues we're against, not for the God we're for,” Lee, 38, told the AJC.

Middle East Expert: No Churches in Saudi Arabia unless Mohammed Recognized

The Pakistan Christian Post reports that no churches should be permitted in Saudi Arabia, unless Pope Benedict XVI recognized the prophet Mohammed, according to a Middle East expert. Saudi mediators are currently working with the Vatican on negotiations to allow places of religious worship, but some experts, such as Anwar Ashiqi, president of the Saudi center for Middle East strategic studies, believe it will not occur without this recognition. "I have taken part in several meetings related to Islamic-Christian dialogue and there have been negotiations on this issue," Ashiqi said. "It would be possible to launch official negotiations to construct a church in Saudi Arabia only after the Pope and all the Christian churches recognize the prophet Mohammed. If they don`t recognize him as a prophet, how can we have a church in the Saudi kingdom?"

Algeria Orders Closure of 19 Protestant Congregations

Police issued written orders for three Algerian churches to cease activity this week, bringing to 19 the number of congregations told to shut down since November, an Algerian Protestant leader said. In addition to the three churches, registered under the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), two independent congregations were verbally ordered to close their doors, EPA president Mustapha Krim said. The church closures come amid a flurry of antagonistic media articles warning of campaigns by Protestants to “Christianize” Algeria. Compass Direct News reports that Religious Affairs Minister Bu’Abdallah Ghoulamullah called on Christian groups in Algeria to re-register according to Algeria’s associations’ law, but Algerian Christians have claimed that the government has blocked them from carrying out the required re-registration.

Face of Christianity Will Soon be Black, Says Scholar

According to The Christian Post, Christianity has long been stereotyped as a Western, white man’s religion, but a prominent theologian stated Thursday that that image will soon drastically change. “The new face of Christianity will be the black woman,” said Dr. Kwok Pui Lan to an audience at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky. Kwok, a professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., explained that as of last year, Europe still had the largest number of Christians in the world – 532 million. It is followed by Latin America with 525 million and then Africa at 417 million. But by 2025, Africa is projected to shoot up to 634.6 million Christians, followed closely by Latin America at 634.1 million, while Europe will fall to 531 million Christians. The United States had 223 million Christians mid-2007 and is predicted to grow slightly to 252 million by 2025.