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Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 12, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 12, 2007

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

  • Muslim Threat to Attack Church Raises Tensions in Nigeria
  • Evangelicals, Progressives Seek to End Culture Wars
  • Egyptian Islamists Join Case against Convert to Christianity
  • Government Sweep in Laos Cripples Village Church

Muslim Threat to Attack Church Raises Tensions in Nigeria

Militant Islamists in the northern state of Borno have sent three letters to a church warning that members would be attacked in the next few days, raising tensions where 50 Christians were killed and 57 churches destroyed last year. Leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria told Compass Direct News that the letters were dropped onto the premises of the 3,000-member Church of the Brethren in Nigeria on separate days last week. Mosque calls to prayer were sounded at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Wednesday night, hours when Muslims do not usually observe prayers, putting police and security agencies on alert. By 6 a.m., police armored tanks were patrolling the streets to thwart any plans to attack Christians.

Evangelicals, Progressives Seek to End Culture Wars

The Christian Post reports that the line dividing evangelicals from progressives blurred Wednesday as members from both parties joined in a new mission to erase long-held stereotypes of one another and seek commonality on polarizing issues such as abortion, gay rights, and the role of religion in public life. Both sides agreed the “civil war” between evangelicals and progressives needs to end and common ground pursued in order for the nation to make significant progress on divisive issues. “I think the way we have been dealing with differences in this country simply doesn’t work,” said the Rev. Dr. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of the 10,000-member Northland Church in Florida. The evangelical leader contends arguments between some evangelical leaders and liberals have not only blocked progress but also isolated a lot of evangelicals who are looking for “reasonable” leadership that allows for development while maintaining values.

Egyptian Islamists Join Case against Convert to Christianity

Conservative Islamic lawyers came out in support of the Egyptian government last week at the opening court hearing of a Muslim convert to Christianity, Compass Direct News reports. In a move that has caused national uproar, former Muslim Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy is suing Egypt to change the religion listed on his identification papers to Christianity. Islamist lawyers associated with radical cleric Youssef al-Badry attended the October 2 hearing in Cairo and legally joined the case on the government’s side, Hegazy told Compass. Al-Badry was one of several clerics who called for Hegazy’s death in Egypt’s national media. Though Egyptian law does not forbid conversion from Islam to Christianity, it provides no legal means to make the change, so converts to Christianity usually hide their identity to avoid torture and forced recantation.

Government Sweep in Laos Cripples Village Church

Following a brutal government sweep of suspected insurgents in July, a village church in Laos that once had nearly 2,000 members has shrunk to only a few dozen daring to attend. Compass Direct News reports that most of its leaders are still either in prison or under house arrest. Christian sources said only about 20 to 30 members of the previously 1,900-member Laos Evangelical Church in Ban Sai Jarern village, Bokeo province in northwestern Laos, are still meeting after authorities three months ago arrested 200 Hmong Christians falsely accused of being separatist rebels. Many of those arrested, including women and children, are still in prison, Christian sources said, although estimates of the number detained were unavailable.