Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Obama Issues Gay Pride Month Proclamation
- Church Torched, Christians Threatened in India's Kashmir State
- California Church Sponsors Billboard in N.C. Apologizing for Gay Marriage Ban
- Increase in Church Closures, Attacks on Christians in Indonesia
Obama Issues Gay Pride Month Proclamation
For the fourth straight year, President Obama has issued a proclamation recognizing June as Gay Pride Month, saying "more remains to be done" in advancing gay issues and for the first time acknowledging his support for gay marriage within a proclamation, Baptist Press reports. Obama's latest proclamation lists his achievements for the gay community, such as signing a repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and signing a hate crimes bill that encompasses "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." The proclamation reads: "Because we must treat others the way we want to be treated, I personally believe in marriage equality for same-sex couples. ... Moving forward, my administration will continue its work to advance the rights of LGBT Americans. ... I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people." Bob Stith of the Southern Baptist Convention's Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals says Obama is wrong to assert that opposition to homosexuality equals prejudice. "President Obama again casts all those who have a genuine, biblically-based belief that homosexual acts are sin as haters," Stith said, adding that Obama framing the legalization of same-sex marriage as ridding the country of prejudice did not bode well for traditional Christians.
Church Torched, Christians Threatened in India's Kashmir State
A 119-year-old church was torched by Muslim extremists in India's Kashmir state, where Christians are under mounting pressure, International Christian Concern reports. Additionally, more than 400 Christians have fled their homes as a result of threats from Muslims. A local Christian leader says Muslim fundamentalists want Christians to leave the state, and Christians cannot resist the pressure because they are a minority. Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, said the case was evidence of the "growing pressure" on Christians by the Muslim majority. "Life for the Christian minority is increasingly difficult," he said.
California Church Sponsors Billboard in N.C. Apologizing for Gay Marriage Ban
A San Diego, Calif., church led by a gay pastor has sponsored a billboard in North Carolina apologizing to gay residents about the state's recent constitutional ban on gay marriage, the Christian Post reports. The billboard, erected on Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte, N.C., reads, "Missiongathering Christian Church is sorry for the narrow-minded, judgmental, deceptive, manipulative actions of those who denied rights & equality to so many in the name of God." Missiongathering also said it might consider buying more billboards in other states where gay marriage bans have been proposed. "We feel it is ... important that we love the unloved and defend the discriminated," Missiongathering said on its Facebook page. "If, in the process, we ruffle the feathers of fellow Christians, perhaps that is an okay price to pay. Perhaps those feathers need a little ruffling." However, many Christian leaders maintain that Christians should love homosexuals without compromising the biblical stance that homosexuality is a sin. "There is a saying in the South that 'we just love people to death,'" said Dan Wilson of Harvest USA. "But as Christians, we need to love them to life instead of loving them to death. Most people, including pastors and church leaders, are afraid to talk to some about their sin. ... We simply need to all agree that we're all sinners and that the reason Jesus died on the cross is for our sins."
Increase in Church Closures, Attacks on Christians in Indonesia
The number of violations of Christians' religious rights in Indonesia reached 40 in the first five months of the year, nearly two-thirds the amount of anti-Christian actions in all of last year, Compass Direct News reports. The Christian minority in Indonesia faced 64 cases of violations of religious freedom last year, up from 47 in 2010, said Theophilus Bela, president of the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum. Bela said he was worried about the growing incidence of violence and church closures, as his group recorded just 10 anti-Christian incidents in 2009. At least 22 churches have been forced to close this year, including 18 in the Singkil regency of Aceh Province that were sealed last month. Bela said that after his organization's intervention the closed churches in Aceh began worshiping again on May 13, but unconfirmed reports indicate other churches in the area have since been forced to close. Violence against Christians has also increased, with most incidents taking place in areas surrounding Jakarta and Singkil.
Publication date: June 7, 2012