Religion Today Summaries - May 23, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 23, 2006

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

  • GFA Leaders Applaud Changes in Nepal

  • Eritrea Jails Three More Orthodox Church Leaders

  • Open Doors Wonders: Is Mistreatment of Believers in India Being Ignored?

  • Americans Uninformed about Churches in China

GFA Leaders Applaud Changes in Nepal

Described by some observers as a “21st century Magna Carta,” the sweeping political changes decreed Thursday by Nepal’s parliament are being met with prayerful caution by Gospel for Asia leaders in the region. "This is definitely welcome news,” said GFA President Dr. K.P. Yohannan. “It is the first time in the history of Nepal that there has been a democratic, secular government.” If the changes passed by the parliament stand, they will indeed be a peaceful revolution for the mountain kingdom. "May 18, 2006 — the day a new Nepal was born,” declared the Nepali Times. It explained that Thursday was “the day the parliament, restored by ‘people power,’ declared itself supreme and decided to save the monarchy from a king who nearly took it down with him.” In the new Nepal, decisions on royal succession and other palace matters will be made by the parliament’s State Affairs Committee. The parliament, taking power on the strength of recent massive street demonstrations, also passed laws to declare Nepal a secular state instead of “the world’s only Hindu kingdom." It is this last provision that is of most interest to Nepal’s long-oppressed Christian minority. “We have to wait and see what that means as far as religious freedom is concerned,” Dr. Yohannan cautioned. “With India being so close, there is the possibility of religious fundamentalism being adopted in Nepal as it is in India today.”

Eritrea Jails Three More Orthodox Church Leaders

The Eritrean government jailed three more leaders of the Orthodox Church’s Medhane Alem renewal movement last month, cracking down on widespread reaction to the excommunication of 65 of the group’s members, Compass Direct reports. A March 28 circular letter sent by the Eritrean Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod officially excommunicated 65 key members and coordinators of the long-established Sunday School movement within the Orthodox church. The expelled Christians reportedly had refused to confess that the Medhane Alem movement and its leaders were “heretics” whose objectives were to destroy the Eritrean Orthodox Church. A week later, on April 4, three of the excommunicants were arrested and sent to prison. The three men were accused of instigating open resistance to the church’s decree banishing them from their mother church.

Open Doors Wonders: Is Mistreatment of Believers in India Being Ignored?

AgapePress reports that the president of a ministry that serves persecuted Christians worldwide is expressing shock that a government agency has not named India as a country of "particular concern" when it comes to religious freedom. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended the U.S. Department of State keep India off its list as a country of particular concern, or CPC -- despite the fact that attacks on Christian churches and individuals have been on the rise throughout that nation. A press release from the Commission states that, even though "significant developments" affecting freedom of religion and belief have taken place, it is "closely monitoring the situations" in India, categorizing it as a nation that is "under scrutiny." Other nations with that designation are Russia and Sri Lanka. Open Doors USA, which serves the persecuted Church worldwide, has documented 75 cases of persecution against Christians throughout India this year alone. Countries being recommended at this time by the USCIRF for that list include North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, People's Republic of China (Red China), Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam.

Americans Uninformed about Churches in China

A story in the Christian Post indicates that Americans as well as Chinese Americans are uninformed about the ‘‘real situation’’ in China. The Rev. Xiaoling Zhu said, “Many Chinese people do not even know that there are churches in China. Americans do not know anything about the church in China and so are the Chinese Americans here. This [touring China Bible Ministry Exhibit] is really needed because it allows more people to see the real situation of the church in China.” Sponsors of the exhibit, the Chinese Christian Council/Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches (CCC/TSPM), hope to “bring new understanding between Americans and Chinese” and to “create more dialogue between Christians in China and the United States.” However, the exhibit it not welcomed by everyone, with some Chinese American evangelicals accusing the Exhibit’s sponsors of misleading Americans while millions of house church Christians are persecuted.