Friday, January 20, 2012

De-batizing Phenomenon In Europe

Europeans "De-Baptize" In Growing Numbers, Church Officials Worried
By Elizabeth Bryant
Religion News Service

PARIS (RNS) A decade ago, Rene Lebouvier requested that his local Catholic church erase his name from the baptismal register. The church noted his demands on the margins of its records and the chapter was closed.

But the clergy abuse scandals rocking Europe, coupled with Pope Benedict XVI's conservative stances on contraception, hardened Lebouvier's views. Last October, a court in Normandy ruled in favor of his lawsuit to have his name permanently deleted from church records -- making the 71-year-old retiree the first Frenchman to be officially "de-baptized."

"I took the judicial route to get myself de-baptized because of the church's excesses," said Lebouvier, speaking by telephone from his village of Fleury, near the D-Day beaches.

"It's a sort of honesty toward the church because they have a guy on their register who doesn't believe in God."

Lebouvier's case is among a growing wave of de-baptisms in Europe, one of the most visible manifestations of the continent's secular drift. Websites offering informal de-baptism certificates have mushroomed. Other Christians are formally breaking from the church by opting out of state church taxes.

"The movement is happening across Europe," said Anne Morelli, who heads a center studying religion and secularity at the Free University of Brussels. "It was very apparent during 2011 -- in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Austria. It is obviously related to the scandals of pedophile priests, but it has been going on for some time."

While there are no official statistics, experts and secular activists count the numbers of de-baptisms in the tens of thousands. It's a phenomenon that has touched Protestant as well as Catholic communities.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Targeting of Nigerain Christians Continues

*Keep them in your prayers!

Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists targetting Christians, turning Nigeria into cauldron of religious strife

Preaching a theology of chaos and intolerance, the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Boko Haram is threatening to plunge Nigeria into a civil war.

After murdering 504 people last year in church and mosque bombings, drive-by shootings, bank robberies and assaults on police stations and army barracks, the radical Islamists are rapidly becoming known as Africa’s Taliban.

The increasingly sophisticated and deadly attacks include a Christmas bombing campaign of Christian churches that killed 65 people in northern Nigeria and a suicide car-bomb attack on the United Nations’ headquarters in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, that killed 25 people in August.

Thursday, gunmen stormed a church in Gombe, killing six people. On Friday, armed men shot and killed 17 Christians at a house in the northeastern town of Mubi as they mourned the death of a friend the previous evening….

Then late Friday, gunmen killed at least eight people when they opened fire on worshippers at the Christian Apostolic church in downtown Yola, the capital of Adamawa.

Boko Haram has suddenly emerged as one of Africa’s most virulent terrorist threats.

In November, a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on homeland security identified the group as a threat to African stability and U.S. security.

Its members are being trained by al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM, al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate) and have ties to Somalia’s Al-Shabab, the committee concluded.

“The sophistication of its tactics, use of the Internet and its recent attack on the UN headquarters in Abuja all point to a dangerously evolving organization,” it said.

With AQIM operating in Nigeria’s neighbours — Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Algeria — it would only be “natural” for the group to gravitate toward Nigeria, said Paul Lubeck, an expert on the region at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“They are global jihadists,” he said. “It is automatic that you would look to the largest Muslim state in Africa to expand.”

Before his death last May, Osama bin Laden identified Nigeria, with its sharp Christian-Muslim divide, as a key arena for global sectarian warfare.

Libya’s civil war, which has flooded North Africa with weapons, has also left Nigeria vulnerable.
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