Christians

Christian and Muslim Dalits Beaten in New Delhi Protest

Photo by John Dayal
Protestors gathered in New Delhi to demand equal affirmative action for Christian and Muslim Dalits. Photo by John Dayal

NEW DELHI — Police in India’s capital used water cannons and canes on peaceful Christian and Muslim leaders Wednesday while they were demanding equal constitutional protections.

Organized jointly by confederations of churches and Muslim groups in India, the demonstrators demanded affirmative action for Dalits (formerly “untouchables”) who have converted to Christianity or Islam.

Only Dalits who have converted to Hinduism, Sikhism, or Buddhism are entitled to affirmative action slots in jobs and educational institutions, among other protections.

'Jerusalem,' a Tribute to the Holy City, Comes to the Giant Screen

An IMAX camera films the Western Wall during Pesach. Photo: Nicolas Ruel, courtesy Jerusalem US LP/National Geographic Society

It may be as close as a person can get to praying at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall, without actually going there.

The newly released movie “Jerusalem,” filmed in 2D and 3D and playing on IMAX and other giant-screen theaters across the U.S. and the world, gives viewers grand, hallmark panoramas, at once awe-inspiring and intimate.

For years filmmakers had sought the rights to capture the city from the air, but never before had permission been granted, in part because the holy city is a no-fly zone.

Still, before filming began in 2010, producer Taran Davies came up with an extensive wish list of all the sites and rituals he wanted in the film, and presented it to advisers familiar with the spectrum of religious and secular officials who would have to approve.

“They all laughed and said forget about it,” Davies said. “They said, ‘It’s impossible and you’re not going to get half of what you’re looking for.’”

Westminster Abbey Marks Kristallnacht Anniversary with Interfaith Service

1,600 men and women marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht at Westminster Abbey on Sunday. RNS photo by Trevor Grundy

At an emotional worship service, considered one of the largest gatherings of Christians and Jews, some 1,600 British men and women filed into Westminster Abbey Sunday to mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Also known as the Night of Broken Glass, Kristallnacht was a series of coordinated attacks carried out by Nazi paramilitaries and civilians against Jews throughout Hitler’s Germany and parts of Austria between Nov. 9 and 10, 1938.

More than 90 German Jews were killed and 30,000 more sent to concentration camps.

During the hourlong service, a candelabra from the Belsize Square Synagogue in central London was processed through the abbey where England’s kings and queens are buried.

Holy Innocents in Pakistan

Pakistani Christian women pray for victims of suicide attack on a church in Peshawar. Photo: AP

MY HEART WAS broken when I got the news on a Sunday in September: All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, had been attacked by two suicide bombers just after the Sunday service, as worshippers filtered out of the sanctuary. Eighty-five people were killed, including 34 women, seven children, and two Muslim police officers there to provide security. Later reports said the bombers were Sunni extremists.

In 1976, I was honored to start Youth for Christ in Peshawar. There were few Christians in this area near the Afghan border; Peshawar was not and is not a big town. Undoubtedly, some of the adults in and around the church when it was bombed were people I had met decades earlier.

News of the bombing confounded my memory of Peshawar 38 years ago. Religious plurality then was not perfect, but it was in great contrast to today. Christians, though few, served the Lord with some freedom. Youth for Christ held open-air rallies in the park, amplified by public-address speakers, with young people singing Christian songs with Bible messages to be heard by anyone within earshot. No security was needed, and truth be told both Muslim and Christian youth were in the audience and the choir.

The start of the second Gulf war in 2003, and subsequent military actions, changed everything. Reports say the church bombing in Peshawar was in retaliation for U.S. drone strikes that killed innocent men, women, and children, along with suspected terrorists, in that part of Pakistan. Peshawar is strategically located on the border with Afghanistan, not far from the famous Khyber Pass and only about 125 miles from where Osama bin Laden was killed.

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Asian-Americans Troubled by Stereotypes from White Evangelicals

Paper cutouts of men in various colors. Photo via RNS/courtesy mtkang via Shutterstock

Asian-American Christians are voicing concerns over how they’re depicted by white evangelicals, most recently at a conference hosted by Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California.

Saddleback recently hosted a conference by Exponential, a church-planting group, and a video last Tuesday left some Asian-Americans offended.

It’s the second dust-up in as many months involving Asian-Americans and Warren, who spoke at the Exponential conference. Last month he received backlash from Asian-American Christians after he posted a Facebook photo depicting the Red Guard during China’s Cultural Revolution. “The typical attitude of Saddleback Staff as they start work each day,” the caption read on Sept. 23.

An Antidote to Religious Strife in Egypt: Nationalism

Two young Egyptians on top of a tramway pole holding Egyptian flag. Photo via Shutterstock, by George Nazmi Bebawi

After decades of polarization along religious lines, Christians and Muslims in Egypt are coming together to rally behind their flag.

The country is in the midst of a swell of nationalism that began during the revolution in 2011 and intensified when citizens took to the streets in June of this year to call for the removal of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian flags adorn houses and buildings throughout the capital, and everything — from sandbags buttressing military blockades to pillars along the Nile Corniche — has been painted in the national colors of black, white, and red.

Meet the ‘Nominals’ Who Are Drifting From Judaism and Christianity

 Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com
Deposition from the cross. Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com

They’re rarely at worship services and indifferent to doctrine. And they’re surprisingly fuzzy on Jesus.

These are the Jewish Americans sketched in a new Pew Research Center survey, 62 percent of whom said Jewishness is largely about culture or ancestry and just 15 percent who said it’s about religious belief.

But it’s not just Jews. It’s a phenomenon among U.S. Christians, too.

Meet the “Nominals” — people who claim a religious identity but may live it in name only.

Can You Really Tell the Difference Between Christians and Non-Christians?

Religion survey box, alexmillos / Shutterstock.com
Religion survey box, alexmillos / Shutterstock.com

There is an old Christian hymn that has the lyrics "They'll know we are Christians by our love." It was written in the late 60s and was inspired by the Bible verse John 13:35, where Jesus says, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV) 

Really? We're supposed to be able to tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians? And the difference is love?! 

In reality, it's not nearly that simple, and the fact is, there’s no visible difference. 

If you were to go to the grocery store, a football game, the gym, a school, or your work, there would be no obvious way of identifying — through actions — who is a Christian and who isn't, and we should be careful not to judge. 

Some of the kindest, nicest, authentic, and wonderful people I know don't believe in Jesus. Contrarily, there are some horrible, mean, and downright disgusting Christians.

Stepping in When Politicians Step Aside

Crop Hunger Walk poster photo courtesy Church World Service

A straggle of kids came up for children’s time at Poland Presbyterian Church, a 211-year-old congregation established on Lot One, in Township One, in Range One of what was once known as the Connecticut Western Reserve.

The church’s education minister asked them to do this year’s CROP Walk in nearby Youngstown. Two miles, five miles, whatever they can do to raise money for alleviating hunger.

“Seventeen million children will go to bed hungry in America tonight,” she explained.

Four Questions for Khaipi

Photo by Dawn Araujo

Bio: "Khaipi" (real name withheld) is a peace studies professor in Thailand and a Chin religious freedom activist who served as researcher for the Chin Human Rights Organization's 2012 report detailing abuses against ethnic and religious minorities in Burma.
Website: chro.ca

1. What is at the root of the persecution of Christians in Burma?
There is an unwritten policy called “Burmanization,” which means that to be Burmese you have to be a Buddhist and you have to speak Burmese. The Chin people are not allowed to practice Christianity, and we are not allowed to study our own ethnic languages. But it’s not all about religion: They are attacking our ethnic identity because Christianity has become our identity.

Before Christianity came to the Chin people, they practiced an indigenous religion. In this religion, they believed in an Almighty One who created the world. In 1899, the very first American Baptist missionaries came to Chin state, and when they talked about the Christian God, our forefathers could adopt it very easily because it was very close to that indigenous belief. Today, when the Burmese military junta persecutes us, they say, “Okay, we want to take out this kind of Western religion.” But for us, once we believed in God, it became our religion, not a Western religion anymore.

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