Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 5, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 5, 2008

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

  • Christians Released from Eritrean Prison
  • Poll Confirms Parents' Influence on Teens' Religious Activities
  • Church Looted and Demolished in Nigeria
  • Young Iraqis Losing Faith in Religion

Christians Released from Eritrean Prison

According to OneNewsNow, more than 30 Christians have been released from jail Massawa, Eritrea. The religious prisoners, both men and women, were arrested during a police raid in early January. Official charges were never filed against the believers, who were worshipping in a private home. Voice of the Martyrs Todd Nettleton said, "At that time the government called in the leaders of all the different evangelical denominations and [told them] your meetings are no longer legal, your church has been outlawed, you can no longer hold public worship." Nettleton believes many of the people who were attending those churches decided to no longer meet in the church, "but they continued to meet in homes and other private settings."

Poll Confirms Parents' Influence on Teens' Religious Activities

When it comes to attending church, praying, and reading the Bible, the apple does not fall far from the tree, according to Religion News Service release. A recent poll of teens and their parents overwhelmingly confirms that parents have the most influence on their children’s religious activity. The survey, commissioned by the American Bible Society and conducted by Weekly Reader Research, found that almost 80 percent of America’s 30.2 million 12-18 year olds think the Bible is important and 87 percent of parents think the Bible is important. However, the results show that parents still have work to do; of the 47 percent of teens who think the Bible is very important, only 11 percent read it daily. Only ten percent of America’s 12-18 year-olds participate in daily Bible reading, but that's still higher than the results of June 2006 survey done by ABS.

Church Looted and Demolished in Nigeria

ASSIST News Service reports that a mob armed with machetes set fire to church buildings belonging to the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) in Giginyu, Kano State, before looting and dismantling the property on Wednesday, February 27. Between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., the mob set the church office ablaze before dismantling the church’s zinc roof tiles, entering the building, and looting or destroying its contents, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). CSW says the church bus was destroyed; chairs, musical instruments, ceiling fans, building blocks and two generators were removed and sold on the streets at minimum prices; and choir gowns were handed to street merchants who wore them in mockery, claiming to be bishops. The CSW report states: "The building, which was based in police barracks, had been earmarked for demolition, supposedly to make way for a new hospital. However the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had received assurances from Kano state officials that there would be no demolition until an alternative site and compensation had been provided for the church."

Young Iraqis Losing Faith in Religion

According to a report in the International Herald Tribune, many young Iraqis, exhausted by five years of firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach. 40 young people in five Iraqi cities were interviewed over a two-month period, during which a pattern of disenchantment was noted. Young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives. "I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us," said Sara Sami, a high school student in Basra. "Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don't deserve to be rulers." The International Herald Tribune's report goes on to say that such patterns, if lasting, could lead to a weakening of the political power of religious leaders in Iraq.