Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Thousands March in Memory of Christian Massacre in Egypt
Thousands of Egyptian protesters marched Tuesday in Cairo to mark one year since the Maspero Massacre, when nearly 30 people were killed in a Coptic Christian demonstration that was violently crushed by security forces, International Christian Concern reports. "The victims of the massacre are described ... as martyrs," Egypt Independent reported. "Among [Coptic Christians], this language of martyrdom has a particular resonance, rooted in a history of struggle as the practitioners of a minority faith in Egypt." Most of the victims' families, however, have yet to see justice: "The Egyptian authorities have failed to conduct a full impartial and independent investigation into the circumstances of the violence and to bring those responsible to account," according to Amnesty International. The massacre on Oct. 9, 2011, later dubbed "Bloody Sunday," marked the largest attack on Egyptian Christians in recent memory and the worst violence in the country since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
Abortion the Primary Issue for One in Six Voters
According to a new Gallup poll, nearly one in 10 registered voters in America say they will only support pro-life candidates who share their position on abortion, a number that is larger than the corresponding data for pro-choice voters, Baptist Press reports. Specifically, 9 percent of registered voters say they will only support pro-life candidates who oppose abortion while 7 percent of all voters say they will only back pro-choice candidates who support legalized abortion. In total, about one in six voters in America are single-issue voters on abortion. Gallup's Lydia Saad called it a "slight pro-life tilt, albeit one that could potentially benefit pro-life Republican candidate Mitt Romney." Gallup historical data shows the issue has benefited pro-life candidates in every presidential election dating back to 1996, with pro-lifers ahead by 2 percentage points in every election except for 2004, when 12 percent of voters said they'd only support pro-life candidates and 5 percent said they'd only support pro-choice ones. In 2008, the issue favored pro-lifers, 7 percent to 5 percent.
China's Shouwang Church Continues Sunday Protests in Beijing
Beijing's Shouwang Church, one of China's largest house churches, continues to refuse official registration in spite of increasing pressure from the Chinese government, Christianity Today reports. Members of Shouwang have been meeting outdoors for Sunday morning services for 17 months -- and say they will continue to do so until they receive official permission to return to an indoor location. The government has increased efforts to dissuade church leaders, including sentencing senior pastor Jin Tianming to 500 days of house arrest and detaining church members 1,600 times at 90 different police stations over the past 17 months. Tianming recently took legal action, submitting an administrative review protesting the government's interference with legal church functions, but The South China Morning Post reports that the legal affairs office of the Beijing government has rejected the petition. "This is obviously repression of citizens' religious freedom and the church's right to practice its faith," Tianming previously said.
Venezuela: Chavez's Reelection Sparks Fears of Further-Deteriorating Religious Freedom
In a reelection to another six-year term, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez marked his fourth presidential election victory since 1998. It means more of the same socialist policies -- and fears of continuing violations of religious freedom, Mission Network News reports. Since 2009, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has included Venezuela on its annual Watch List, which "provides advance warning of negative trends that could develop into severe violations of religious freedom." In USCIRF's 2012 report, investigators found continued violations of freedom of religion in Venezuela, including government failure to hold accountable those behind attacks on religious leaders and houses of worship; virulent rhetoric from Chavez, government officials and state media; and pro-Chavez media directed episodically against certain faith-based communities. Since Chavez first came to office in 1998, there has been a steady increase of government rhetoric and government action against faith-based groups thought to have ties with the West -- and these trends are likely to continue, says Greg Musselman, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs Canada. "If things do get more difficult, pray that the church would be strengthened, that believers would be prepared for churches to close down."