Sri Lanka church body warns conversion bills will oppress
minorities

            The leader of the Anglican Church in Sri Lanka, Bishop Duleep de Chickera, said recently that legislation currently in Parliament restricting religious conversions may be “counter productive” and oppressive to religious minorities.  Ecumenical News International reports that the bishop’s warning will be read in all Anglican churches across the island.  Most Sri Lankans are Buddhist by faith.

 

 

Seventh-day Adventist Global Mission Center and Other Buildings Destroyed During Attack in Darfur

 

            In Sudan, militants destroyed a training center in the Darfur region belonging to the Seventh-day Adventist Church during a recent attack.  Carried out by members of the Janjweed militias, the attack also levelled a church building along with a number of homes.  Regional leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Michael Porter comments:

“Since the Destruction of the Global Mission Center the people have had to move, they could not stay in that area at all.  So they’ve gone fifteen-Sixteen hours distance to other places where they’re just basically staying refugee camps.”

According to Porter, religion was not the main cause of the attack, or of the crisis as a whole:

“A little bit more careful research on the people living in this Darfur region and the destruction that is going on would suggest this is not merely about religion, it’s not merely about a people group.  It’s possibly more related to agriculture people and other kinds of people that are all interested in the same land, because we have discovered that even some mosques have been destroyed, so it would suggest that it’s not just Christian versus a Muslim kind of a thing, but there are many other issues.”

Porter says that the attack will not stop the Seventh-day Adventist Church from working in the region.

 

 

Dissenting Bulgarian priests protest against seizures of
properties

            In Bulgaria, protestors have taken to the streets recently in response to a wave of arrested clergy and seizure of church property.  According to Ecumenical News International, the demonstrations were sparked by the arrests of Bulgarian clergy and the seizure of properties held by the church.  Bulgaria’s Alternative Synod, an organization in opposition to Bulgaria’s orthodox leadership, is heading the protests. 

 

 

Churches full, but Philippines Catholics need more priests

           

            In the Philippines, there are plenty of Catholic believers, but far too few clergy.  Methyl De Vera reports:

 

            Asia’s most Christian country is finding its self in short supply of priests.  One of the issues addressed at the National Congress of Clergy in Manila was the severe shortage of priests to minister to the Philippines’ 68 million Catholics.  Currently there are only 87 hundred priests in the nation, which means each priest is responsible for 15 thousand Catholic believers.  Ideally the number of priests in the Philippines should be roughly 25 thousand, meaning one priest for every two thousand parishioners.  While the lack of priests has not caused a decrease of Philipino Catholics, one bishop warned that the church must “be vigilant,” or risk having to close a number of parishes.

 

 

 

China blocks foreign-based religious Internet sites
           

            In China recently, the government has allegedly denied Internet access to a wide variety of religious websites, including sites concerning religious freedom and the Tibetan Dalai Lama.  The Forum 18 News Service reports that the Internet censorship is an effort by the Chinese government to control Internet usage in a country where nearly 80 million people are connected to the web.  That number is expected to double in the next six months.  Interestingly, China’s Golden Shield firewall only blocks religious freedom websites written in Chinese languages but allows such websites written in European languages.

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: MUSLIM FIRED FOR REJECTING FORCIBLE MOSQUE TAKE-OVER

 

            In Azerbaijan recently, a Muslim man has resigned from his job at a hospital after refusing to accept the new government-appointed leadership of the Juma Mosque.  The government of Azerbaijan had removed the previous leader, imam Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, due to the fact that supported religious freedom for Christians and Muslims alike.  A charity run by Ibrahimoglu has also been stripped of its registration.  After resigning from his hospital post, the man, identified as Zeynal A. said he fears further persecution.

 

 

KAZAKHSTAN: NEW FINES AND PRESSURE ON UNREGISTERED BAPTISTS

            In Kazakhstan, at least five churches of the International Council of Evangelical Christian/Baptists have recently been raided or fined for not registering with the Kazakh government.  Forum 18 News Service reports that the churches have refused to register with the government of Kazakhstan because they do not believe that the Kazakh constitution nor religion law requires the official registration of churches.

 

 

MOLDOVA: WHY CAN'T MUSLIMS OR RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD REGISTER?

            In Moldova recently, both the Muslim and Russian Orthodox faiths have been continually denied official registration by the government of Moldova.  According to Forum 18 News Service, the Supreme Court of Moldova ruled that the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad should receive official registration, but still the government has rejected registration.  Both the Muslim and Russian Orthodox communities plan to take their cases to the European Court of Human Rights, or ECHR.  The two communities hope to follow in the path of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which won its case for registration in Moldova from the ECHR in 2002 and shortly thereafter received official registration in the country.