Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
New Survey Finds South Is Still Most Religious in U.S.
Cities in the Southeast still have the highest percentage of churchgoers and self-identified Christians, according to new data from Barna Group. Meanwhile, cities in the Northeast and Northwest contain the greatest percentage of self-identified atheists and agnostics. Baptist Press reports that the data, released Oct. 11, is based on nearly 40,000 surveys conducted over the last seven years by the Christian research group. Birmingham (67 percent) has the highest percentage of churchgoers. Conversely, San Francisco has the highest percentage of unchurched people, with 43 percent saying they have not been to a religious service the last six months. Still, a large percentage of the country self-identifies as Christian, with the highest percentage found in the South.
Maoist Rebels Force Missionaries to Temporarily Flee Village
Gospel for Asia reports that two recent Bible college graduates, in their first year as Gospel for Asia-supported national missionaries, have been forced to leave their mission station because of death threats. Rujul Abraham and Manik Ranjan were ministering in a village in Chhattisgarh, a state where the Maoist rebels are strong. Trouble began when followers of the area's traditional religion began preparations for one of their annual festivals. Maoists entered the village and destroyed two statues of the local gods that were to be honored during the celebrations. "We will not allow any kind of religious celebrations," they warned, "and we don't want to see any religion being practiced, either. If you do not obey us, there will be fatal consequences."
N. Korea Christians Face Uncertain Future
As North Korea sets the stage for a new leader, Christians in the country wonder if they will fare any better under Kim Jong-il's successor. Christians in the underground church face arrest, imprisonment, torture and even death for their faith. "Christians are treated without mercy. Up to three generations of Christian families are rounded up and thrown in prison camps to try to eliminate the faith," said Any Dipper, CEO of Release International. Christian Today reports that the organization will host a conference in the U.K. for prayer and awareness on Nov. 6 that will feature a North Korean defector. "We can learn so much about overcoming faith from our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world."
India: Extremists Destroy New Church Building
ASSIST News Service reports that believers in an Indian village were working hard to construct a church building, only to have their building destroyed by anti-Christian extremists. Over two days, radicals completely destroyed the new facilities, although the congregation had received government permission to build the church. Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Paul Joseph and his congregation had completed much of the building when the anti-Christian militants arrived September 14. Paul Joseph and other church leaders approached the police, but they refused to help. Extremists pressured local residents to sign a petition against the church, using it as an excuse to finish demolition of the church the next day.