Praise and Prayer

Pray: Iranian Extremists Threaten to Kill Three Ex-Muslim Pastors

The Christian Post reports that some Iranian Christians cannot escape threats even once they leave country. Three Iranian pastors in Athens, Greece, received a letter March 11 stating that, unless they return to Islam, they will found and killed as apostates.

The letter, written by a radical group calling themselves "The Hezbollah Party," accused the pastors of "anti-Islamic activities" and participation in "espionage organizations" against Iran. "Be aware that in these days that the power of the Islamic world is growing, its army and economy's success have blinded the American and European government and have defeated and scared them," the letter reads. The group threatened to "fulfill our religious duty towards you" if the pastors do not convert back to Islam.

The pastors currently work with Iranian and Afghani expatriates and refugees in Greece.

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Praise: Anti-Conversion Bill Debate in Sri Lanka Suffers Setback

ASSIST News Service reports that the controversial anti-conversion bill under consideration in Sri Lanka has suffered a great setback. Parliament recently suspended the bill as a result of intense opposition from the Christian population.

In a report from the UK-based Release International, a parliamentary committee comprised of Christian members and leaders of political parties examined the bill and agreed that it could have serious consequences on religious activities, spark inter-religious conflict and possibly violate the country's constitution.

Minister of Religious Affairs Pandu Bandaranayake confirmed that Christians have called for clearer wording in the bill. The bill will be re-examined by the Ministry's religious consultative committee, despite the opposition from the Buddhist-led party, Jathika Hela Urumaya.

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Pray: Graham to Bring Hope' to Secular Uruguay

The Christian Post reports that the strongly atheist nation of Uruguay will host the first Franklin Graham evangelistic festival of 2009. According to the CIA World Factbook, the country is 17.2 percent atheist or agnostic.

Six hundred local churches joined to organize the Festival of Hope event in Montevideo, and has drawn international and local Christian music artists to participate. Local Christians hope the three-day event draws more than just Christians.

"God is working in Uruguay," said Alejandro Wojnarowicz, senior pastor of El Rebao Church and a prominent Christian leader in Uruguay, according to Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's Decision magazine. "God is working through thousands of Christians immersed in the Holy Spirit" to see people from all levels of society "transformed."

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Pray: Christians Still Being Attacked in Orissa, Says Archbishop

The Christian Post reports that the Indian state of Orissa's government has yet to enact adequate protections for Christians in the state, according to the Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.

Returning Catholic priests "are still not free to move about and the police themselves have recommended they request police escorts ahead of time [when traveling]," Archbishop Raphael Cheenath said.

In addition to attacks, he reported multiple instances of discrimination by Hindu extremists. He said extremists have refused to let Christians use public restrooms, and forced women to wear "degrading outfits," the Post reported.

Despite government promises of compensation for lost property, the amount offered so far has been far below the actual value of destroyed buildings. Only about half of the 8,000 Christians who fled last year's violence have returned, as many still feel vulnerable.

Religion Today Summaries

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