Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Christian, Jewish Persecution Up in Muslim Nations
- New York City Council: No More Church Evictions From Public Schools
- Pope: Atheists Redeemed by Doing Good
- Cleanup Efforts Continue in Oklahoma
Christian, Jewish Persecution Up in Muslim Nations
The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report for 2012 shows persecution against Christians and Jews is on the rise, especially in Muslim countries, CBN News reports. Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia are among the many countries where non-Muslims are suffering persecution. Saudi Arabia prohibits any religion except Islam and enforces state restrictions on religious freedom. In Sudan, Muslim rioters burned down an evangelical church compound; in Libya, terrorists bombed an Orthodox church; and in Nigeria, Muslim radicals murdered hundreds of Christians. The report also devotes a section to the ongoing global increase in anti-Semitism, citing Venezuela, Egypt and Iran as countries with political and religious leaders who openly espouse Holocaust denial and anti-Israel rhetoric.
New York City Council: No More Church Evictions From Public Schools
Churches threatened with eviction from New York City public schools are celebrating the city council's passage of a resolution calling on state lawmakers to protect their right to rent worship space on Sundays, Christianity Today reports. The Right to Worship Resolution passed 38-11, despite opposition from Speaker Christine Quinn. "This is one of the first times in recent memory that the city council has responded to faith-based groups and, despite significant opposition, passed a resolution supporting their rights," said Tony Carnes, editor of the website A Journey Through NYC Religions, which chronicles religious life in New York City. "That's a remarkable change, and certainly will catch attention." Carnes pointed to a Journey poll indicating that nearly 70 percent of the neighbors of schools that rent to churches do not see the rentals as a problematic endorsement of religion. The long-running legal standoff between churches and the city's education department over whether or not schools can ban worship has been pending since a judge blocked the city's ban last June and the city appealed. The Supreme Court declined to hear the relevant lawsuit by the Bronx Household of Faith, and a previous attempt by lawmakers at the state level to permit church rentals failed.
Pope: Atheists Redeemed by Doing Good
Pope Francis caused a stir this week when he declared during his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists, the Huffington Post reports. Francis emphasized the importance of "doing good" as a principle that unites all humanity, and told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus. "Even them, everyone," the pope answered. "We all have the duty to good. ... The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone! ... We must meet one another doing good. 'But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!' But do good: we will meet one another there."
Cleanup Efforts Continue in Oklahoma
Oklahoma officials say they do not expect to find any more bodies or survivors buried in the rubble left by Monday's deadly EF5 tornado, which pulverized a mile-wide path through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, WORLD reports. The death toll stands at 24, including 10 children. Officials had originally feared the number of dead could climb as high as 100, based largely on the twister's complete destruction. Local hospitals treated more than 300 people, and rescue crews pulled more than 200 others from the rubble Monday night. The state's insurance department estimates the damage could top $2 billion. Survivors are beginning to tell harrowing stories of huddling in closets and bathrooms, watching as the storm peeled back roofs and obliterated walls. It pushed winds of more than 200 mph and had the power of many atomic bombs, scientists said.
Publication date: May 24, 2013