The plight of U.S.-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini was highlighted by Secretary of State John Kerry during his remarks for the State Department's 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom, with Kerry promising to continue to work for the pastor's release.
"In Iran, U.S. Iranian citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned. The Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years behind bars simply because of his religious beliefs. We will continue to call for his release and we will continue to work for it," Kerry stated.
"And make no mistake: We will continue to stand up for religious minority communities under assault and in danger around the world, from Jehovah's Witnesses to Baha'is to Ahmadi Muslims." more >>
Chinese police in the city of Wenzhou have removed a cross from a local church in their most recent crackdown on Christianity in the Asian country, specifically in the Zhejiang province. Media outlets report that local church members gathered around their fallen cross, weeping and praying.
Although congregants attempted to protect their church, hundreds of police arrived at the Longgang Huai En Church in Wenzhou on Monday and removed the 10-foot-tall red cross from the church's steeple. Wenzhou is considered to be "China's Jerusalem" due to its large Christian population.
According to the Associated Press, about 200 congregants attempted to protect the cross from being removed, but ultimately allowed the police to take down the religious symbol using a crane. Police officials have said the cross violated a city ordinance regarding the height of buildings in Wenzhou. The cross was returned to congregants, who reportedly wept and prayed around their destroyed religious image. more >>
A mob in Pakistan has reportedly killed a mother and two of her granddaughters over a Facebook post that was deemed "blasphemous" to the Islamic religion.
A 600-person mob attacked the local Ahmadi sect in Gujranwala, located about 140 miles southeast of Islamabad, setting fire to five homes and several shops. Ultimately, the mob killed an Ahmadi woman in her 40's and her two grandchildren, ages eight and 7-months old.
The three females were killed after an Ahmadi man, 25-year-old Aqib Salim, reportedly posted a "blasphemous" and "objectionable" image to his Facebook that showed the Islamic holy site Kaaba next to a woman wearing minimal clothing. The Ahmadi sect of people have been denounced as "non-Muslim" because they believe that a second prophet came after Mohamed. While the Pakistani government has denounced the sect as "non-Muslim," Ahmadis still consider themselves to be of the Islamic religion. more >>
A student at Ohio State University is outraged after an online quiz for an undergraduate psychology class implied that atheists are more intelligent than Christians.
The student, who chose to remain anonymous, told Campus Reform that the question was part of an online homework quiz for psychology 1100, a general education class. The question asked: "Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125. Which of the following statements do you expect to be true?"
Out of four options, the correct answer was reportedly: "Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian." more >>
Persecution watchdog groups who have campaigned for the release of Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim are celebrating her family's departure from Sudan to Italy, with one calling it an "answered prayer" for the thousands who had signed petitions and offered prayers.
"We are thankful for the Italian government's critical involvement in this case, and for the ACLJ supporters who never ceased to bring attention to Meriam and her family," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice.
"The ACLJ, in conjunction with nations and organizations worldwide, fought for Meriam and her family their basic religious liberties. Because of the unwavering dedication of the American people, the four are now safe in Italy and hoping to be in the United States soon." more >>
A group of Chinese Christians protecting a church cross from demolition has said that they are ready to die for the cause, even as they are beaten severely by police officers seeking to break their month-long vigil.
"We will continue to guard our church cross to the end," a local worker of Pingyang County said, according to International Christian Concern. "We divide people into two groups and take turns to guard the church through the night."
Government officials have been trying to forcibly remove the church cross of ShuiTou Salvation Church in Pingyang, Wenzhou City for over a month now, though Christians have been protecting it by holding overnight vigils. more >>