Religion Today Summaries, May 8, 2003

Religion Today Summaries, May 8, 2003

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

In Today's Edition:

  • Christian Evangelist Stabbed to Death in Bangladesh by Muslim Extremists
  • Update: Christian Widow in Jordan Given Month Reprieve in Fight to Keep Her Children
  • Indonesia Delays Controversial Education Bill
  • Indian Ministry Sees Nearly 5000 Salvation Decisions

Christian Evangelist Stabbed to Death in Bangladesh by Muslim Extremists

(Barnabas Fund) A Christian evangelist became Bangladesh’s first martyr in modern times following attack by at least seven Muslim extremists armed with knives. Just after midnight, early in the morning of April 24, Hridoy Roy was returning home after showing a film version of Luke’s Gospel. As he approached his house seven or eight people attacked him, stabbing him seven times. He died instantly. Hridoy Roy was a Bangladeshi evangelist and regularly used to put on the film, known as the Jesus Film. He is believed to be the first martyr in Bangladesh in modern times, if not ever; local believers feel that he will not be the last. They are in a state of deep shock, mourning and great fear following this tragic attack. In Islamic law (Shari’ah) conversion from Islam to another faith (apostasy) is punishable by death. This is a deep-seated tradition among Muslims and those who do convert, if not killed, are often subject to beatings and having their possessions and family taken away from them. This is the fundamental reason for the antipathy that most Muslims hold towards those who try to proselytize in their communities. It goes a long way towards explaining why they are sometimes willing to take such draconian measures to make sure that none of their community will be corrupted.

Update: Christian Widow in Jordan Given Month Reprieve in Fight to Keep Her Children

(Charisma News) A Christian widow has been given a month reprieve by authorities in her eight-year fight to keep her children from being raised by a Muslim relative. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Siham Qandah is fighting to keep her children after a court ordered her to surrender her children to her estranged brother, Abdullah Al Muhtadi, or face imprisonment. Qandah has asked a court to remove Al Muhtadi as the children's custodian. Qandah's lawyers are seeking the appointment of a new guardian who will allow the children to remain with their mother, CSW said. Qandah and her children were forced into hiding in October after she was notified by authorities that she had less than a week to hand over her children. In January, her brother successfully convinced a court to pass a ruling threatening Qandah with imprisonment if she failed to hand the children over to him. Last year, Jordan's Supreme Court ruled that Qandah must relinquish her children. Authorities have not yet enforced the decision, partly due to international media coverage and appeals to the Jordanian royal family. Authorities claim that before his death in 1994, Qandah's Christian husband secretly converted to Islam, making his children Muslims under Jordanian law.

Indonesia Delays Controversial Education Bill
Sarah Page
(Compass) Politicians in Indonesia have postponed endorsing a controversial new education bill.  Legislators hoped to endorse the bill last week to mark celebrations of National Education Day. However, protests from teachers and religious officials around the country delayed the bill from passing into law. The National Education System Bill, drafted to replace an older version written in 1989, raised a storm of controversy. Article 13 stipulates that schools must provide religious education for all their students. A Christian school with 10 or more Muslim students, for example, must provide worship facilities and two hours of Islamic education per week for Muslim students. The same applies to Muslim or Hindu schools with 10 or more Christian students. On March 18, almost 3,000 Christian teachers and parents held a protest march through the streets of Jakarta under the banner “Concerned People for National Education,” prompting former President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid to call on the government to review, or rescind, the controversial legislation.

Indian Ministry Sees Nearly 5000 Salvation Decisions

(Missions Insider) A ministry operating out of the restrictive state of Tamil Nadu saw 4934 decisions for Christ last year, according to a report received by Christian Aid. Of the total, 1818 decisions came through the showing of the India-produced film of Christ, "Karunamurthy," viewed by more than 100,000 people in at least four different districts of Tamil Nadu. Missionaries baptized a total of 3396 new believers last year. The independent ministry, begun in 1976, has 255 missionaries plus 15 full-time pastors and other staff and has established over 315 churches with a total membership of about 27,000. The missionaries conduct evangelistic outreach in many parts of India, including taking the gospel to more than 64 hill-tribe areas. In addition the ministry operates separate men's and women's Bible colleges for over 100 students, and offers extension and evening courses. It also maintains a children's home caring for more than 100, with another 274 children assisted under a family assistance program. It operates a primary school with 168 students, a middle school for 648 children, and a high school for 150 students, and offers vocational training for adults and youth. It also provides a home for widows and a leprosy rehabilitation center.