World Scene

Paraguay placed a ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses last January just three days before a scheduled international assembly of Witnesses in the capital, Asunción. Witnesses say their work is officially banned or curtailed in forty-nine countries.

Membership in Britain’s leading non-Anglican churches dropped by more than 50,000 last year, according to the 1979 directory of the Free Church Federal Council. Similar losses have been recorded in the previous two years.

Christians in Sweden are protesting a proposal that religious television programs be pulled from the state’s general audience Channel One and placed on special interest Channel Two. The Lutheran archbishop and Baptist Union general secretary jointly signed a protest appeal to the radio-television monopoly.

In an apparent attempt to avoid any replay of Iran’s Islamic backlash, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt is having the Egyptian parliament consider ways of applying Sharia, or Islamic law. A 1977 bill to make abandonment of Islamic religion a crime punishable by death was shelved after strong protest by Patriarch Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church. But other applications of the bill could deny non-Muslims their property rights.

Israel’s controversial anti-bribery law, passed two years ago, prohibits offering material or other benefits to induce persons to change religions. Fears that the law was intended to inhibit all evangelism were allayed when minister of justice Shmuel Tamir entered an interpretation into the official Knesset (parliament) gazette: The law is not intended, he said, “to restrict in any way their religious freedom” or “impede them from the pursuit of normal educational or philanthropic activities.”

India’s evangelical churches last year contributed nearly 300,000 rupees (approximately $36,000) to cross-cultural evangelism. The India Evangelical Mission, a wing of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, currently fields seventy-three national missionaries in tribal areas of India and in the Andaman Islands.

First evidence that the church has not been entirely wiped out in Cambodia surfaced recently. Christian & Missionary Alliance missionary Paul Ellison, assisting the Far East Broadcasting Company with Cambodian-language programs, reports news of “about fifty Christians” who are part of an agricultural commune and “a group of about eight” in another province who meet regularly with their young pastor.

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