Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 29, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 29, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Atheists Know Religions Better Than Christians, Survey Finds
  • Pentecostal Pastor Beaten, Arrested in India
  • Syria Shuts Down Eight House Churches
  • Judge Returns Infant to Faith-Healing Parents

Atheists Know Religions Better Than Christians, Survey Finds

A new Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey shows that if atheists and agnostics know Christian doctrine better than many Christians, according to the Los Angeles Times. For instance, four in 10 Catholics incorrectly described the bread and wine in Holy Communion as only a symbol of the body and blood of Christ, while atheists were more likely to say the elements become actual body and blood. The reason for this surprise finding may be that atheists and agnostics "are people who thought a lot about religion," said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum. "They're not indifferent. They care about it." Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University, added, "I think in general the survey confirms what I argued in the book, which is that we know almost nothing about our own religions and even less about the religions of other people," he said.

Pentecostal Pastor Beaten, Arrested in India

A Pentecostal pastor in the southern Indian state of Karnataka was arrested on charges of forceful conversion on Sunday. Pastor Shivanda Siddi, 45, was arrested while conducting worship service at Gnanodaya Assemblies of God Church after about five Hindu extremists barged into the service and assaulted the pastor. "The radicals humiliated the pastor by tearing his clothes and beating him in front of the faithful. After beating the pastor for about half an hour, they called the police at Yellapur station," according to Global Council of Indian Christians. The Christian Post reports that police also arrested seven women, including two girls under age 12, though the women were later released. So far in 2010, there have been 106 incidents of persecution in India and 37 have taken place in Karnataka.

Syria Shuts Down Eight House Churches

Christians in Syria have been kicked out of some churches because the meeting places are not appropriate for worship, according to the Syrian government. Worthy News reports that many Syrian congregations don't have the resources to build an independent church and might instead purchase and repurpose and apartment. Many Christians believe the technical reasons for closing the church are only an excuse to quiet Christians. "Christians who are active in their faith know that they are watched very closely, and the government is waiting for an excuse to crack down on them," said one Syrian Christian. "Christians in Syria, unlike some of their neighbors, have enjoyed relative freedom to practice their faith. Yet, religious freedom in Syria is a delicate ideal," said Aidan Clay, International Christian Concern's regional manager for the Middle East said.

Judge Returns Infant to Faith-Healing Parents

In Oregon, a Clackamas County judge ruled Sept. 24 that an infant who faced blindness from an untreated medical condition can return home while her parents prepare for trial on charges of criminal mistreatment. Religion News Service reports that Circuit Judge Douglas V. Van Dyk imposed several conditions on Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, who are members of an Oregon City church that rejects medical care and practices faith healing. The state Department of Human Services will retain temporary custody and monitor Alayna's health and medical treatment. The nine-month-old girl has been in foster care and receiving court-ordered medical treatment since her parents' arrest two months ago, after Alayna was partially blinded by a baseball-sized mass over one eye. The Wylands agreed to all conditions imposed by the judge, including "this court's order regarding medical care," but the legal battle over Alayna is far from over.