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Religion Today Summaries, May 7, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, May 7, 2003

Religion Today Summaries: Daily summaries of the top national and international religious news stories impacting Christians

In Today's Edition:

  • Pastor and Six Family Members Burned to Death in Nigeria
  • Christians Face Deportation from Saudi Arabia 
  • Christian in Laos Evicted from Home for Refusal to Renounce Faith
  • Wal-Mart to Stop Selling Racy Magazines Stuff, Maxim, FHM

Pastor and Six Family Members Burned to Death in Nigeria
Obed Minchakpu

(Compass) A Christian preacher in the northern Nigeria city of Kano and six members of his family died in a house fire on April 22. Christian leaders in the city believe Muslim militants deliberately set the fatal blaze. Pastor Sunday Madumere and his family were asleep in the early hours of the morning when flames engulfed their home. Pastor Madumere is known for his powerful preaching, which has led many Muslims in Kano to convert to the Christian faith. Observers believe the conversions may have angered Muslim militants in the city and they decided to eliminate him. “This incident is not the first of its kind here,” said Rev. Gabriel Ojo of the First Baptist Church in Kano city. “A number of Christians here and their leaders have been killed in the past by Muslim fanatics.” Rev. Ojo said that some years ago, extremists murdered Gideon Akaluka, a Christian, and carried his severed head through the streets. To date, government authorities have failed to punish the killers. Bishop Nyam of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, added, “Since the adoption of the Islamic legal system here, we have been forced into difficult situations. Christians have suffered because Muslim fanatics have taken the law into their hands. We are not surprised at all about this incident,” he added. “We saw it coming.”

Christians Face Deportation from Saudi Arabia
Michael Ireland

(ANS) Two Christians are facing deportation from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. According to Middle East Concern (MEC), Mr. Girmaye, from Eritrea, was arrested in mid-March and transferred to Terhil deportation centre where he has remained ever since. Pastor Endashaw Adane Yizengaw, from Ethiopia, was arrested in late April after the authorities cancelled his residency permit. Other members of the church have been warned not to attend any more. MEC reports the Saudi authorities have openly watched this church. They have questioned at least eight other members and warned them not to attend church again. Police told the employer of pastor Yizengaw that he had been accused of selling alcohol and involvement in prostitution. These charges have not been pressed officially and have been vehemently denied by pastor Yizengaw and other Christians in Jeddah. An official from the Ethiopian Consulate in Jeddah told Middle East Concern that pastor Yizengaw had been arrested because of his Christian activities. One month before his arrest Girmaye was approached by the authorities before a Church service and forced to give his fingerprint and sign a paper in Arabic, which he does not understand. Girmaye's residency papers expired two years ago. The authorities have detained and subsequently released him several times since.

Christian in Laos Evicted from Home for Refusal to Renounce Faith

(VOM – USA) Authorities in the southern region of Laos have evicted three Christian families from their homes for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs. According to Radio Free Asia, the families are now in the care of a church after being forced out of their homes last month. U.S. State Department officials also cited reports that Christians elsewhere in Laos were facing pressure from authorities to renounce their faith or face eviction or detention. Christians have been ordered to close their churches and to stop their worship practices.

Wal-Mart to Stop Selling Racy Magazines Stuff, Maxim, FHM

(Baptist Press) Wal-Mart has pulled three magazines from its shelves following customer complaints about their racy covers and content. The nation's largest retailer will no longer be selling Stuff, Maxim and FHM -- three magazines many pro-family groups believe border on pornography. The decision came after "listening to our customers and associates," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Melissa Berryhill told The New York Times. "I know we've heard on at least one of those magazines, they weren't pleased with the offering." Wal-Mart has been under pressure from Christian groups to remove the magazines, the newspaper reported. The Timothy Plan, a pro-family mutual funds management firm, has been pressuring Wal-Mart either to remove Cosmopolitan magazines from checkout lanes or "cover" the often-racy covers. Its president, Arthur Ally, said magazines like Stuff, Maxim and FHM can serve as a portal to other forms of pornography.