Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 3, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 3, 2006

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

  • State Dept. Says 'Many Countries' Continue Religious Repression
  • Offhand Comments Spark Nigeria’s Latest ‘Blasphemy’ Rampage
  • Global Prayer and Fasting Event Begins
  • Survey: Faith a Minor Impact on Children

State Dept. Says 'Many Countries' Continue Religious Repression

The U.S. State Department issued its annual report on international religious liberty Sept. 15 but has yet to decide which nations will be cited this year as “countries of particular concern” (CPCs), Baptist Press reported. In 2005, eight nations -- Saudi Arabia, Iran, Vietnam, Burma, China, Eritrea, North Korea and Sudan -– received the CPC designation as violators of religious freedom. This year’s list of state violators of religious freedom will likely be released in late October or early November. John V. Hanford III, ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said in a briefing following the release of the report that many countries had made strides to protect religious freedom. However, many countries “still repress their people’s religious expression through force or harassment.”

Offhand Comments Spark Nigeria’s Latest ‘Blasphemy’ Rampage

According to a Compass Direct News story, Jummai opened her tailor’s shop on the morning of September 18 without any premonition that a crisis awaited her. Equally unsuspecting were her fellow Christians, less than 20 percent of the predominantly Muslim population of Dutse, capital of Jigawa state in northern Nigeria. But by that afternoon, her offhand comments exchanged with several Muslim customers had attracted the wrath of local Islamist agitators. And suddenly, angry mobs started forming all over town, demanding the Christian tailor be killed for blasphemy against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. The dispute spiraled into a violent, one-day rampage, leaving 16 churches burned down, six Christians injured and at least 2,000 Christians homeless. Local church leaders accused the Jigawa state police commissioner of  partisanship, stating the Muslim official ignored their appeals to stop the militants. Meanwhile, the Jigawa state governor informed church leaders that they would be forced to move to virgin land outside the town limits for rebuilding their destroyed church buildings.

Global Prayer and Fasting Event Begins

October 1st through 10th of this year has been designated the "International Week of Prayer and Fasting," a worldwide emphasis to save the unborn and renew faith. AgapePress reports the objective of the international observance is threefold, as one of the organizers, Maureen Flynn, points out: "It's to pray for peace in the world, it's to pray for the culture of life, and it's to pray for a renewal of faith with our youth in the world," she says. The global event will be highlighted by "life chains," prayer vigils, special masses and worship services, and rallies. During the ten days, organizers are asking participants to focus on prayer and fasting for the conversion of nations, an end to abortion, and the building of a culture of life around the world.

Survey: Faith a Minor Impact on Children

The Christian Post reports that a new Barna survey found that family experiences outweigh the influence of the Church on children. Findings revealed the majority of children aged around 8 to 12 years old (tweens) have positive impressions of or experiences with family. However, less than half view faith as important to them. Compared to the bright spots of family and friends as influencers, the Church's impact on children is minor, according to the study. Overall, 38 percent of tweens said that churches have made a positive difference in their life; 34 percent said that prayer is very important to them; and 43 percent rejected the notion that they would rather be popular than do what is morally right. "One of the more significant outcomes of the study was the challenge to churches," said survey director George Barna. "While most kids in the 8-to-12 age range are involved in a church, relatively few of them consider church experiences to be valuable. That is confirmed by the fact that so few kids consider prayer to be a critical part of their life."