Turkish Judge Frees Teenager Planning Church Massacre

A Turkish teenager who vowed to kill the pastor of a Protestant church and "massacre" Christians in the Black Sea coastal city of Samsun has been released by a local court because he is "too young," the Turkish media reported January 17. Semih Seymen, age 17, was detained on the previous weekend after he called Pastor Orhan Picaklar of the Samsun Agape Church several times since late December, threatening to kill him, reported Turkey's Taraf newspaper. Police forces tracked down the suspect and arrested him Saturday, Jan. 5, officials said. However, Judge Sinan Sonmez of Samsun's First Minor Petty Offenses Court reportedly ruled that Seymen should be released because of his young age. Pastor Picaklar reportedly condemned the decision, saying in published remarks that the defendant "openly confessed he was going to carry out a massacre." It came after previous attacks against the church, including one in January, 2007, when some 30 heavy rocks were thrown through the Samsun Agape Church windows. In Turkey at least five Christians were killed and several others injured in attacks in the last two years.

BosNewsLife, Compass Direct News via MissionNet


155,000 Displaced Kenyans Being Aided By World Vision

World Vision is providing food and relief supplies in Kenya to sustain some 155,000 vulnerable people, including 60,000 children, who have been displaced by violence that erupted across Kenya following the announcement of disputed election results on Dec. 30. An estimated 250,000 Kenyans have been forced from their homes because of the violence, and thousands more are directly affected, World Vision staff members report. "...The humanitarian situation is likely to get worse," said Nick Wasunna, World Vision's emergency adviser, speaking from Nairobi.

"The longer families are too scared to return home, the longer they are living without basic needs such as food and clean water." Though World Vision's Kenya office is temporarily closed, crisis team members there are making every effort to check on all sponsored children. World Vision's emergency staff team is partnering with the Kenya Red Cross Society to provide relief supplies and meet the immediate needs of affected people in the Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret, Mombasa, and Kisumu Townships.

World Vision, Evangelical News via MissionNet


Dozens Injured as Hindu Nationalists Continue Attacks

More than 80 people were injured in an attack on a large Christian meeting on Jan. 16 in Chhattisgarh State's Durg District, followed on Jan. 20 by an assault on a missionary camp in Dhamtari District that hurt at least a dozen Christians, Compass Direct News reports. The Hindu extremist attacks come within weeks of unprecedented anti-Christian violence in neighboring Orissa State. In Chhattisgarh's Durg District violence, Christians said it was no coincidence that Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) extremists launched the attack as the political arm of the militants, the Bharatiya Janata Party, was holding a public meeting in the area. "The attackers, who were from the extremist group Dharam Sena [Army for Religion], came in four trucks, beat Christians and others who were attending the healing meeting, and vandalized the makeshift structure," said the Arpan Tarun of the Chhattisgarh Pastors' Fellowship.

Religion Today Summaries


Attacks on Christians In India Surpass 1,000 in 2007

With more than 800 attacks around Christmastime in eastern India's Orissa State, the number of reported attacks on Christians in India during 2007 surpassed 1,000 for the first time since India's independence in 1947. At least 200 incidents of anti-Christian attacks, including four murders, had been recorded before violence erupted in Orissa's Kandhamal District that killed at least four Christians and burned 730 houses and 95 churches, according to a report of a fact-finding team released by Christian leaders in early January. The report, released by the All India Christian Council in conjunction with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) and the Christian Legal Association, stated that while four Christians were confirmed dead, at least six were seriously injured and numerous others are missing and presumed killed by Hindu extremists in the rampage that began in Kandhamal on Christmas Eve. "It is a matter of serious concern to the country that violence has been widespread in different parts of the country in general and against the Christians in particular," said CBCI spokesperson Babu Joseph. He called the attacks "meticulously planned and almost clinically executed in order to hurt Christians in the country."

Compass Direct News via MissionNet


Half of Young Adults In U.S. Survey Say Marriage Unnecessary

Half of people in their 20s say marriage isn't necessary to validate love or commitment in a long-term relationship, a new online poll found. Overall, 44% of the 7,113 U.S. residents aged 20 to 69 who participated in the poll by Zogby International and AOL Personals shared that sentiment. "Across all age groups, you just don't need a marriage certificate to mean love," Keith Brengle, director of AOL Personals, told Reuters.

But marriage is more than just a piece of paper, argues Jim Mueller, president and co-founder of Growthtrac Ministries, an organization that produces Christian marriage resources. "A Christian marriage is between two people who have committed their lives-and their marriage-to a relationship with Jesus Christ," Mueller said. "That couple is making a permanent promise, a covenant that is not meant to be broken. That makes a difference." Mueller believes that many of the negative values reflected in the media, celebrity lifestyles and culture have led many young adults in their 20s to adopt a light view of commitment in marriage and cohabitation before marriage.

Christian Post via MissionNet


U.S. Abortions Are Lowest in 30 Years

A report issued Jan. 17 by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the special research arm of Planned Parenthood, shows the annual number of abortions reaching their lowest level in nearly 30 years. The Guttmacher Institute report finds just over 1.2 million abortions in the United States in 2005, down nearly 25% from their high of 1.6 million in 1990, and the lowest reported total since 1.179 million in 1976.

National Right to Life cited an increase in pro-life educational outreach and legislative initiatives as central to the decrease. "Today's numbers confirm what we have known for years: if women seeking abortion are fully informed about the risks surrounding abortion, the development of their unborn child, and public and private assistance available in their area, they are more likely to reject the idea of abortion," said Randall K. O'Bannon, NRLC director of education and research.


Coordinated Blasts Rock Iraqi Churches

Four Iraqi churches and three convents were damaged in coordinated bomb blasts on Jan. 6, the day many Iraqi Christians celebrate either Epiphany or Christmas Eve according to some Eastern liturgical calendars. Three churches in Baghdad and three in Mosul were hit without fatalities, Chaldean Baghdad Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Abouna told Compass Direct News from Baghdad. The blasts occurred within five minutes of each other at approximately 11 a.m. Bashar Warda of St. Peter's Seminary said that the coordinated bombings sent a clear warning to Christians. "There has been much violence against the Sunni and Shiites, while the Christians have been left alone, at least for [the past few months]," Warda told Compass. He said that the blasts let Christians know that, "whatever [violence] is happening around the country, you will be part of it also."

Religion Today Summaries

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