North Nigeria Christians Wary of New President

Christians fear that persecution especially in predominantly Islamic northern Nigeria will increase following the election April 21st of Muslim Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as president. As governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria, Yar'Ardua had imposed sharia (Islamic law) and presided over a system of deliberate denial of land for building churches, as well as government agencies that arbitrarily closed some churches, Christian leaders told Compass Direct News. Major political parties in Nigeria nominated only Muslims from the north as part of an unwritten agreement among leaders that the presidency would alternate between north and south. Bulus Polit of the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Jos told Compass that between the two Muslim presidential candidates, Yar'Adua's opponent was the more hard-line Muslim who would have presented greater problems to Christians in the country.

Religion Today Summaries

True Love Waits to Expand Into 6 More Countries in Africa

True Love Waits International will expand its abstinence-until-marriage message in six African countries, utilizing $950,000 in donor gifts to LifeWay Christian Resources, said the ministry's president, Thom Rainer. LifeWay's successful 13-year-old program in Uganda will expand into South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho. "Although HIV/AIDS is a concern worldwide, the most concentrated and high-risk area continues to be the Continent of Africa where the life expectancy in some countries has dropped from age 42 to as low as age 30," Rainer said. "We believe True Love Waits can be the answer for the AIDS epidemic on the entire continent." Since its introduction to Uganda 13 years ago, True Love Waits has been a catalyst for uniting people to address the AIDS problem and spread the message of biblical purity to schools, youth groups, and communities. The HIV/AIDS infection rate in Uganda, a country of 25 million, has dropped to about 6 percent, down from 30%.

Religion Today, Baptist Press via MissionNet

Christians in Baghdad Zone Told to Convert To Islam or Die

Iraqi Christians fled their homes in mid-April, after armed Sunni extremists threatened to kill them if they refused to convert to Islam within 24 hours. Six Christian families from the Mualimien neighborhood of Baghdad's Dora District have relocated to a church elsewhere in the city, said a Baghdad source who requested that the families' location and identity remain anonymous. Armed Sunnis told the families that an amir (independent Muslim prince or ruler) had issued a fatwa, or judgment based on Islamic law, against Dora's Christians. "They called the Christians infidels and told them, If you don't convert to Islam or leave your homes in 24 hours, we will kill you,'" the source said after speaking with a member of the church helping the displaced Christians. A pastor who recently moved away from Dora to escape the daily violence said there were no injuries. He also confirmed reports that militants had removed the cross from the top of St. John the Baptist Chaldean Church in Dora.

Compass Direct News via MissionNet

Puerto Rican Messiah' Preaches to Hispanics

A man who calls himself both "the Second Coming of Jesus" and "the Antichrist" is gathering followers among Hispanics in the United States after successfully spreading his no-sin, no-hell message through 30 other countries.

Jose de Jesus, a 60-year-old Puerto Rican now preaching in Houston, told ABC News, "Before the presence of God, there's no more sin." He preaches that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means sin no longer exists and people now can do no wrong in God"s eyes. He does, however, draw a behavioral line: While morals are loose by any biblical Christian standard, he forbids drunkenness and drugs.

According to de Jesus, Antichrist is not an evil being but is the next incarnation of Jesus on earth. His followers often get "666" tattoos to demonstrate their devotion. They ply him with expensive gifts and mariachi bands greet him at airports when he travels.

With substantial numbers of disciples-"perhaps a million"-in Venezuela, Columbia, Cuba, and other Latin American countries, de Jesus believes the time has come for him to spread his message in the United States.

Baptist Press

Canadian Research: Only 1.4% of Adults Homosexual

According to two researchers, the largest random sex survey ever conducted has reported that only 1.4% of adults engaged in homosexual behavior. Analyzing a 2003 Canadian Community Survey of 121,300 adults, Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron told attendees of the Eastern Psychological Association Convention that 2% of 18-44 year olds, 1% of 50 year olds, and only a third of 1% of subjects 60+ considered themselves homosexual. Thus homosexual activity was much more common among younger adults.

"What happened to the older homosexuals? Some may have ceased to be sexually active," said Paul Cameron, "or they may have died. Recent reports from Scandinavia indicate that the life expectancy of homosexuals is 20+ years shorter than that of heterosexuals."

"No one can say that this statistic is the bedrock truth,'" Paul Cameron said, "but even with attempts to increase the percentage of active homosexuals-which Statistics Canada appears to have done by reporting only the results of those under the age of 60-the 1.4% is a figure that has to be taken very seriously.

"The U.S. government survey of 12,381 adults in 1996, reported that 1.3% of men and 1.1% of women under the age of 60 said they'd had homosexual sex in the last 12 months. It also found few older homosexuals. So it appears that homosexuality is a young person's activity-one that may contribute to an early death."

Hostage Drill Portrays Christian Activists As School Killers

On March 22, officials at Burlington Township High School enlisted the help of two local policemen to carry out a mock "hostage situation" drill at their school. The drill invoked disapproval from Christian students as the student body was told that the alleged gunmen were "members of a right-wing fundamentalist group called the New Crusaders' who don't believe in separation of church and state."

According to a report in the local paper, The Burlington County Times, the mock gunmen pretended to gun down several students in the hallways before taking 10 students hostage in the school's media center. Given that the drill was intended to test the disaster response of students, faculty and local emergency personnel, county officers were dispatched during the drill to realistically execute an emergency evacuation of the building.

The drill organizers explained that the supposedly Christian gunmen "went to the school seeking justice because the daughter of one had been expelled for praying before class."

School Superintendent Chris Manno praised the drill beforehand explaining that "We need to practice under conditions as real as possible in order to evaluate our procedures and plans so that they're as effective as possible."

However, Bob Pawson, National Coordinator of the Scriptures in School Project, denied that the drill portrayed a possible reality and instead asserted that the drill was "a blatant example of anti-Christian animosity."

Russian Believers Outnumber Atheists

A recently released sociological survey in Russia shows that for every nonbeliever in Russia there are two believers. The "Real Russia" survey, made public by the Institute for Social Projection, was based on interviews with 15,000 people. Nonbelievers (including atheists and those not affiliated with any religion) are likely to be male (66.5%) between the ages of 30 and 60. Religiosity among women tends to be above the national average. Parallel to these findings, researchers observed that the relationship between the church and Russian society is growing closer. The number of people attending worship services in Russia has increased in the last 15 years by 6 to 7 million. The Levada Analytic Center shows that confidence in churches and other religious organizations in Russia is also growing, moving to 42% this year, up from 38% in 2006.

WorldWide Religious News via MissionNet

Court to Decide if Chimp Deserves Human Status

Animal rights activists and leading experts in several biological fields including primatology and anthropology are joining forces to uphold a case going before an Austrian court which seeks a declaration of "human status" for a 26-year-old chimpanzee.

According to media reports, the chimpanzee known as Hiasl was barely one year old in 1982 when he was illegally smuggled out of Sierra Leone and into Austria to be used, along with several other chimps, for AIDS and hepatitis research at a laboratory near Vienna. Customs officials discovered Hiasl and rerouted him to an animal sanctuary where he resided until this year.

The sanctuary now faces bankruptcy and Hiasl's future is once again uncertain with the possibility that he may be shipped to the original lab that he was destined for.

Animal rights activists have been campaigning to protect Hiasl from possibly being sent back to the lab by working to have a legal guardian appointed over him. However, since only humans have the right to a legal guardian, they must first convince the court that the chimpanzee, is in fact, "human."

Some of the arguments that they intend to use include the argument that a chimpanzee's DNA is approximately 97% akin to human DNA.

The hearing has been stalled while the judge, Barbara Bartl, an animal rights supporter herself, determines if the claims of "asylum status" for the ape have been legitimately established.

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