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Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 30, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 30, 2006

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

  • British Government Faith Schools Quota Plan Scrapped After Reaction from Churches

  • Christians in India Beaten for Refusing to ‘Reconvert’

  • 35 Arrested Chinese Christians Released After Interrogation

  • Focus on the Family: Encourage Your Pastor Year-round

British Government Faith Schools Quota Plan Scrapped After Reaction from Churches

Plans to force new faith schools in England to select more pupils from other religions are to be scrapped, Assist News reports. A voluntary agreement has been reached instead, British Education Secretary Alan Johnson says. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), reports the Catholic Church joined with the Church of England in agreeing that up to 25 percent of places should go to pupils from another faith or none, Johnson said. The plans were introduced in an amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill last week. The amendment would have enabled local city councils to require new faith schools to select up to 25 percent of their intake from pupils of other faith backgrounds or those with no religious beliefs. The BBC says its abandonment followed talks with representatives of all the UK's major religious groups. There had been a "consensus amongst all faith groups" that "every school whether faith or non-faith should have a duty to promote community cohesion," Johnson said. "We've made enough progress through the voluntary route that we don't need the blunt instrument of legislation," he added.

Christians in India Beaten for Refusing to ‘Reconvert’

Ostracized by their village for the past year, two converts of a church in Madhya Pradesh state’s Shahdol district have been beaten for their refusal to return to the Hindu fold. Santu Prasad Barmaia and Kunjan Prasad Barmaia, both farmers and members of a Gospel for Asia church in Paralia village, were attacked by a group of 12 villagers on October 19.  The attack took place in the morning, when the two were on their way to their fields, a local Christian requesting anonymity told Compass. Both men suffered internal injuries. Police have not arrested the culprits, the source said, in spite of the fact that the victims named them in a complaint filed at the Amarkantak police station. The source explained that villagers were angry with the Christians for declining to participate in Hindu rituals since receiving Christ four years ago. “The villagers had been persistently putting pressure on them to ‘reconvert’ to Hinduism,” he said.

35 Arrested Chinese Christians Released After Interrogation

All 35 Christians arrested October 26, 2006 in a Bible training program held in Qilin mountain Villa, Urumqi city, Xinjiang Autonomous Region have been released. They were released at 11pm after 12 hours of interrogation. China Aid Association (CAA), in a release to the media says: "The police behaved relatively 'gentle' during the interrogation, according to the eyewitnesses, female Christians were not abused this time, but at least one male Christian were beaten by the interrogators, and 2 Christians were fined 50 Yuan (about 6 US$)." CAA adds: "After the interrogation focused on the issue of the American Korean pastor is currently under residence surveillance in an unknown hotel, and the police have his passport. The local Christians are not able to converse with him.  "Among the 35 previously arrested, sister Fu Jufang and sister Rao were summoned again to the police station at 1pm on October 27(Beijing Time) and were released at 7pm after 6 hours of interrogation. Sister Zhou Li and another sister are also asked to go to the Yongfeng police station for further investigation next Monday." CAA also today formally announced the launch of a new website to promote and advance religious freedom for all in China. The name of this website is www.MonitorChina.org.  "We welcome the release of the arrested Chinese house church pastors and we hope the American Korean pastor can be allowed to come back home soon," said Rev. Bob Fu, the president of CAA.

Focus on the Family: Encourage Your Pastor Year-round

"Clergy Appreciation Month" may be winding down, but an official with Focus on the Family is encouraging churches to honor their leaders throughout the year.  The month-long observance was developed as a way for church members to focus on their pastors and staff.  H.B. London, Jr., is vice president of pastoral ministries with Focus on the Family.  London tells AgapePress, pastors often face enormous pressure and unrealistic expectations.  "There's no way to know the pressure that most pastors are under just simply because the clock never stops running and the day never runs out, and unrealistic expectations seem to accompany the role of a servant pastor," says London.  "In a sense, if you're a pastor to a congregation, you're everybody's private pastor, too. There's a constant need for you, especially in the smaller to middle-sized church."  According to London, the unreasonable demands faced by members of the clergy can negatively affect their families.  "I used to try to preach a lot about balance and how to have balance [but] I'm not sure that's even possible anymore," he concedes.  "As pastors and as Christian leaders, we just have to make the most of what we can. And we've got to try to find those moments to get rest and to be refreshed and to be with our family and to minister effectively."  Focus on the Family began its ministry to pastors 15 years ago and now serves nearly 140,000 pastors nationwide.