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Religion Today Summaries - May 21, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 21, 2010

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Nigeria: Three Churches Demolished in Kano State
  • Iraqi Believers Warned to Leave or Face Violence
  • Christians Upset Over UK's First TV Abortion Ad
  • Southern Baptist Baptisms Up, Membership Down

Nigeria: Three Churches Demolished in Kano State

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that three churches and two pastors' houses in northern Nigeria were demolished this week. A mob burned an old Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) building in Kwasam, Kiru Local Government Area (LGA) along with a new building and pastor's house on May 19, forcing the pastor into hiding. The church leadership was previously brought to a Shari'a court when Muslims brought a complaint regarding the church's land. On May 15, a Baptist Church in Banaka, Takai LGA, was demolished for the fourth time. After the previous demolition, a group of Christians from Kastina State paid for the construction of a new building, and also drilled a well for church members to use. However, during the demolition, the well was blocked off completely.

Iraqi Believers Warned to Leave or Face Violence

Mission News Network reports that Christians in Iraq received a direct threat this week, when a Muslim group warned believers in Baghdad and Mosul to leave the area. In a letter to an Iraqi bishop, the General Secretariat of the Islam Supporters warned Christians to "leave the country of Muslims (Iraq) for good and immediately in the form of mass transmigration." It continues: "You can follow Pope Benedict XVI and his followers who have disfigured humanity and Islam," the letter said. "There's no more room for you, infidels, among the Iraqi Muslims. Our swords shall be placed upon your necks and the necks of your followers and other Christians residing in Mosul." Jerry Dykstra of Open Doors USA confirms the hostility against followers of Christ. "Christians are just being further marginalized, as we've heard the reports of random violence."

Christians Upset Over UK's First TV Abortion Ad

Christian Today reports that a new advertising campaign in the U.K. has deeply disturbed pro-life and Christian groups. Marie Stopes, a non-profit abortion provider, will run a commercial for its services beginning on May 24 to "confront the taboo of abortion," the group said. Andrea Minichiello-Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said, "It is entirely unsatisfactory that the advertising codes supposedly allow these adverts to take place, based on a very narrow reading of the term ‘commercial'." The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) bans commercial abortion clinics from advertising on TV, but Marie Stopes is exempt as a non-profit. The Christian Legal Center and other groups are considering legal action to keep the advertisement off the air.

Southern Baptist Baptisms Up, Membership Down

Religion News Service reports that the Southern Baptist Convention reported a slight increase in baptisms in 2009, after four consecutive years of decline, but leaders say the denomination still needs to regain its focus on evangelism. Baptisms in the nation's largest Protestant denomination totaled 349,737 last year, a 2 percent increase from 2008, according to LifeWay Christian Resources, a division of the Southern Baptist Convention. "The fact that more people were baptized this year than last year gives us a reason to hope we're on the right path," said Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay. "At the same time, we as Southern Baptists continue to show signs of drifting from our historic commitment to evangelism, as reflected in the fact that it still takes 46 Southern Baptists to lead one person to faith in Christ." Total membership for 2009 dipped slightly -- by .42 percent -- to 16.1 million.