News Update-2/27/12


Islamic Extremists Storm Pakistan Church, Wound Two Christians
A dozen armed Muslims stormed Grace Ministry Church in Faisalabad, Pakistan, seriously wounding two Christians, AsiaNews reports.

One man was hit by bullets and is in critical condition in the hospital, possibly requiring the amputation of his arm. Another man was pushed from the roof after being struck repeatedly with a rifle butt. The extremist raid was sparked by charges that the church was trying to evangelize Muslims in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. It has been assaulted several times, and the pastor and his family have received repeated death threats.

The police, instead of pursuing the perpetrators, have opened an investigation against the pastor and 20 other church members on allegations of "proselytizing."

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Jeremy Lin's Christian Faith Inspires Persecuted Christians in China
The sudden rise to fame of Taiwanese Christian NBA player Jeremy Lin has received the attention of many Chinese Christians, and has inspired many who face persecution in their Communist homeland, the Christian Post reports.

Chinese media has largely stifled any mentions of Lin's Christianity in covering his basketball play, typical of the government's attempts to control religious practices, but Lin's story has nonetheless caught the attention of Christians throughout the country.

One Chinese Internet wrote, "physical agility has shown me the glory and omnipotence of God." Another wrote: "How should young Christians live the life of the Lord? We have a good example in Lin Shuhao's miraculous performance and we should cheer him on." 

Hu Shubang, a seminary student at Zhejiang Theological Seminary in Hangzhou, said Lin could become a symbol for Christians in China to use in seeking converts. "Just by his being a Christian, it is a fantastic way to broadcast the ways of Christ," Hu said.

Religion Today Summaries

Most U.S. Children Born Out of Wedlock
New research shows more than half of births to American women younger than 30 are outside of marriage, the Daily Mail reports. With two-thirds of children in the U.S. born to mothers under age 30, it appears the majority of births are out of wedlock. Across all ages, four in 10 women are not married when they have children. 

Data shows the fastest growth in the past 20 years is among white women in their 20s with some college education but no four-year degree; most college graduates, however, marry before having children, suggesting family structure is becoming a new class divide. "Marriage has become a luxury good," said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania. But studies consistently show that children born to married couples do better in school and develop fewer social, cognitive, behavioral and emotional problems.

Religion Today Summaries

Churches Forced to Stop Farsi Worship in Tehran
Iran's Ministry of Intelligence has ordered the last two officially registered churches holding Friday Farsi-language services in Tehran to discontinue them, Compass Direct News reports.

Friday services in Tehran attracted the city's converts to Christianity as well as Muslims interested in Christianity, because Friday is most Iranians' day off during the week. Officials told Emmanuel Protestant Church and St. Peter's Evangelical Church Feb. 10 that they could no longer hold Friday services, but could hold services on Sunday-a working day when most Iranians are not able to attend.

"This decision means there are now no Farsi-language services on Fridays in any officially registered church in Tehran," a report from Middle East Concern said. The restrictions have cut the two churches' memberships by half, sources said.

Religion Today Summaries

Burma: Continuing Human Rights Violations Against Christian Civilians
Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports ongoing and continuous grave human rights violations being committed by the Burma Army against Christian civilians in Kachin State and other ethnic states.

The Burma Army has been waging an offensive against ethnic civilians since breaking a 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independent Organization/Army in June. In a recent three-week fact-finding visit to the area, CSW heard first-hand testimonies from internally displaced people from Kachin and Shan states of killings, torture, rape and the destruction of churches, homes and villages by the Burma Army.

"These were unarmed civilians, in their paddy fields or homes, who were not engaged in armed combat in any form," said Benedict Rogers, CSW's East Asia team leader. "The accounts of torture and other abuses are a cause for very grave concern and ... require an urgent and sustained response from the international community."

Religion Today Summaries

NYC Church Evictions Temporarily Lifted
Churches facing eviction from New York City public schools won a brief reprieve last week as a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order to allow congregations to meet in school buildings for 10 more days, reports.

"The court's order is a message of hope for fundamental freedoms in New York City because it means that, for the time being, the city must welcome churches as it does other groups," said Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund.

The ruling gives the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York more time to consider arguments about the constitutionality of the city's ban on religious groups to rent vacant public school space on weekends-the only such ban in the nation. State lawmakers now also have the opportunity to pass a bill to overturn the ban; a bill that would compel the city's education department to allow the worship services passed the state senate earlier this month and awaits action by the state assembly.

Religion Today Summaries 

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