Religion Today Summaries - March 31, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 31, 2006

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

  • Christians in Afghanistan: A Community of Faith and Fear
  • Attacks Plotted Against EMI President in Custody in India
  • Prayer Week for Darfur
  • Afghan Christian Arrives in Italy, Expected to Take Asylum

Christians in Afghanistan: A Community of Faith and Fear

Afghan converts to Christianity lead dangerous lives and must keep their faith secret to avoid persecution by police, Islamists or even their own neighbors, says a report in Spiegel Online. For 36-year-old Hashim Kabar, anything that could out him as a Christian has been put out of sight, out of fear. He is afraid that what happened to Abdul Rahman, another convert to Christianity, might happen to him. Despite the fact that international pressure prevented Rahman from being sentenced and perhaps executed, Rahman's story illustrates the extreme stress that those who turn away from Islam experience every day. "We must recognize that freedom of religion, as promised by the Afghan constitution, does not exist," says Kabar, sadly. "But maybe it's good that the international community is now aware of that." Kabar converted to Christianity 20 years ago, when such a thing was not as taboo as it is today. "There were a lot of churches, both in Kabul and in the country," he says. "Back then the two religions coexisted here almost peacefully." But that all changed when the Taliban came to power in the mid-1990s.

Attacks Plotted Against EMI President in Custody in India

In remanding the president of the Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) to judicial custody until April 10, a Rajasthan court today ordered the administration to keep the Rev. Dr. Samuel Thomas in a cell separate from Hindu extremist inmates allegedly plotting to assault him. Thomas’ attorney, Mohammad Akram, told Compass that he had pleaded in court that his client be given a cell separate from jailed militants accused of violence against Christians. EMI officials said that other Hindu extremists were hatching a conspiracy to falsely implicate Thomas for illegal trade in drugs.

Prayer Week for Darfur

April 2-9 is the Week of Prayer and Action for Darfur, reports Family News in Focus. Gloria White-Hammond is with the Save Darfur Coalition. “The history of genocide reveals that for the most part, genocides were not stopped, they petered-out and it’s not been the case that people have stood up and intervened to actually stop that action. We’re inviting communities of all faiths to participate and certainly looking for people to come together in whatever venue; in their prayer meetings, their phone prayers, but to pray that God’s will would be done in Darfur.” As part in the Million Voices for Darfur campaign, Richard Cizik with the National Association of Evangelicals is hoping President Bush will get one-million post cards asking him to make peace in Darfur a priority. You can send a postcard to President Bush through The postcards will be delivered to Washington D.C. during the “Save Darfur Rally to Stop Genocide” on April 30th.

Afghan Christian Arrives in Italy, Expected to Take Asylum

The Afghan man who was facing death for converting from Islam to Christianity is in Italy, where he is expected to take asylum, the Baptist Press reports. Abdul Rahman, 41, arrived in Italy March 29 after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's cabinet voted to welcome Rahman into the country. Christians around the world have expressed thanks for Rahman's release but concern for the grounds on which it was granted. The case has highlighted vast differences between western democratic countries and Islamic nations. While worldwide leaders called for Rahman's release, many Afghan clerics called for his death. The Afghan Constitution is based on Sharia law, and many Muslims there believe such law requires death for Muslims who reject Islam. Rahman arrived in Italy the same day that Afghanistan's parliament voted to keep him in the country, reported. Tony Perkins, president of the Washington-based Family Research Council, said that even though Rahman is safe, other Christians in Afghanistan are in danger, citing a Compass Direct story that said two other Afghan Christians had been arrested.