China Aid Association revealed in its annual Persecution report that persecution of Christians in China continues to rise, with house and urban churches being some of the main targets.
According to the statistics, government persecution in the world's most populous country, where Christians make up only 3-4 percent, "worsened significantly" in 2013. Persecution rose by 38.82 percent since 2012.
"House churches in China had a difficult year in 2013, but we won't lose heart. Oppositely, only in such circumstances can churches be constantly purified, free of blemishes, mature and strong, and prepared for even greater mission," said Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid. more >>
The Thomas More Society announced on Wednesday that it has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Tennessee pharmacist who was fired in 2013 by Walgreens for refusing to dispense the "Plan B" morning-after pill due to religious reasons.
"Dr. Hall's right to live according to his religious beliefs, including in his workplace, is protected both under the Federal Civil Rights Act and the Tennessee State Constitution," said Larry Crain, co-counsel with the law group. "Americans have the right to live according to their sincerely held religious beliefs and not be forced to participate in actions that they deeply and sincerely believe are morally wrong."
The lawsuit, filed alongside attorney Larry Crain, of Crain, Schuette & Associates, states that Pharmacist Dr. Philip Hall had been employed for six years at a Walgreens store in Jamestown, Tenn., and followed a protocol that allowed him to ask another pharmacist to dispense abortion-inducing drugs like Plan B to customers. Following the implementations of new FDA rules in August 2013, which required Plan B to be sold over-the-counter, Hall, a Baptist, asked his superiors to respect his religious objections to dispensing abortifacients. more >>
The U.S. State Department says it approves of the Rev. Jesse Jackson's offer to visit North Korea and hopefully secure the release of imprisoned American missionary Kenneth Bae, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in the Asian country.
Marie Harf, deputy spokeswoman for the State Department, told reporters Sunday at a press briefing that the U.S. "certainly" supports Jackson's effort to visit North Korea and free Bae. Jackson was reportedly summoned at the request of Bae's family, who resides in Washington State, to help free their imprisoned relative.
"At the request of the Bae family, I think people are aware that Reverend Jesse Jackson had offered to travel to Pyongyang on a humanitarian mission focused on Bae's release," Harf said Sunday. "We support the efforts, of course, of the family, but also of Reverend Jackson to bring Kenneth Bae home. So again we want him to come home, the North Koreans should release him, and we stand ready to send our folks in certainly, Ambassador King, if they reissue an offer." more >>
Christians are being persecuted, sexually assaulted and attacked by mobs in India, and the crimes are going unpunished, according to testimony by Alliance Defending Freedom before the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.
"India, in spite of its long tradition for religious tolerance, finds itself in the throes of religious fundamentalism and violence against religious minorities for the past few decades. Reports by faith-based rights agencies show that Christians in India have suffered about 150 violent attacks on an average in the past few years," argued ADF attorney Tehmina Arora before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
"These attacks include physical and sexual assaults, murder and desecration of places of worship and graveyards." more >>
Indiana's Senate unanimously passed a bill last week that would protect the celebration of Christmas in the state's public schools, allowing students to decorate Christmas trees and share traditional holiday greetings such as "Merry Christmas" with their pupils.
Senate Bill 326, if passed into law, would specifically allow teachers and students to say traditional seasonal greetings such as "Merry Christmas," "Happy Hanukkah," and "Happy Holidays" while at school. Additionally, it would allow classrooms to display "symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations, including a menorah, Christmas tree, Nativity scene or other religious symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations," as long as more than one religion is represented or a secular symbol accompanies a religious one.
The state senate passed the bill unanimously last week, with the legislation's co-author, Sen. Jim Smith, saying the purpose of the bill was to avoid the lawsuits that have taken place in other states regarding religious expression during the holiday season. "Christmas is under attack," Smith said in reference to the bill, according to The Associated Press. "That's just crazy that we even have to move a bill like that, but I think it's very well needed in the state and in every state." more >>
North Korea has turned back on its decision to discuss the possible release of imprisoned Christian missionary Kenneth Bae by rescinding its invitation to an American special envoy, blaming a planned joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea.
"We are deeply disappointed by the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea's] decision – for a second time – to rescind its invitation for Ambassador [Robert] King to travel to Pyongyang to discuss Kenneth Bae's release," an unnamed State Department official told Fox News.
"We again call on the DPRK to grant Bae special amnesty and immediate release as a humanitarian gesture so he may reunite with his family and seek medical care. We will continue to work actively to secure Mr. Bae's release. Per our long-standing offer, we remain prepared to send Ambassador King to North Korea in support of Mr. Bae's release." more >>