Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- North Korean Rocket Launch Bodes Ill for Christians
- Christianity in Britain Losing Ground to Islam, Secularism
- CAIR Urges Michigan Governor to Veto Anti-Sharia Bill
- Poll: 21 Percent of Small Business Owners Will Cut Their Workforce in 2013
North Korean Rocket Launch Bodes Ill for Christians
North Korea's successful rocket launch is putting an end to some of the mystery surrounding its new leader, Kim Jong Un, with many world leaders saying he is now proving to be just as provocative as his late father, Kim Jong Il. According to CBN News, this may also mean more trouble for North Korean Christians and those trying to reach the closed country with the gospel. "The message to the world is 'Don't mess with me; I not only have the weapons, I have the delivery capability now,'" said Jung Hoon Lee, Yonsei University professor. Many North Koreans publicly celebrated the rocket launch, which the White House called "regrettable" and "highly provocative." Meanwhile, human rights groups say North Korea is increasing its persecution of Christians under Kim Jong Un's leadership, and is targeting those who help them. The country is not only sending a growing number of spies to China and to border patrol locations to search for those who help North Korean refugees, but is increasing scrutiny of underground Christians within North Korea. Open Doors USA estimates about 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are living in horrific conditions in labor camps, some who have been "tortured so severely they cannot walk anymore."
Christianity in Britain Losing Ground to Islam, Secularism
New figures from the 2011 Census show that the number of people who identify as Christians in England and Wales has fallen by 4 million over the last 10 years -- from 37.3 million in 2001 to 33 million last year, the Religion News Service reports. Meanwhile, the number of people declaring themselves to be atheists rose by more than 6 million, to 14.1 million. "It should serve as a warning to the churches that their increasingly conservative attitudes are not playing well with the public at large," said Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society. Other polls have detected similar shifts: The 2012 British Social Attitudes Survey showed that only about half of Britons claim a religious affiliation, down sharply from 20 years ago when two out of three did. Barely a quarter of young people identify themselves as religious. The new figures also show that Islam is the U.K.'s second-largest religion, at 2.7 million. Hinduism is third, at 817,000, and the number of self-identified Jews rose from 260,000 to 263,000.
CAIR Urges Michigan Governor to Veto Anti-Sharia Bill
As Michigan lawmakers are working on a bill that could ban sharia (Islamic law) in their state, the Muslim activist group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging Gov. Rick Snyder to veto any legislation that would block Islamic law should the bill reach his desk, CBN News reports. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandville), doesn't specifically mention Islam or sharia -- only "foreign laws that would impair constitutional rights" -- but supporters have said they are concerned about the use of sharia spreading. CAIR issued a statement criticizing what it called the "anti-Islam bill" and urged that it be rejected. At least 20 states are considering similar measures.
Poll: 21 Percent of Small Business Owners Will Cut Their Workforce in 2013
A recent poll from the Wells Fargo/Gallup quarterly survey shows that U.S. small business owners are growing "increasingly pessimistic" as the new year approaches, with 21 percent expecting to decrease their workforces in the next 12 months to a level not seen since Aug. 2003, CNSNews.com reports. Wells Fargo small business head Marc Bernstein attributed the potential decline in part to the possibility of going over the "fiscal cliff," or the automatic tax hikes and defense cuts scheduled to occur if Congress and the White House do not reach a budget deal by the end of this month. "Business owners who navigated through the Great Recession now face more uncharted territory created by ongoing uncertainty in Washington," he said.
Publication date: December 14, 2012