Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Christians to ‘Light a Candle’ for Asia Bibi on April 20
- What People Gave Up for Lent, According to Twitter
- Two Underground Priests Arrested and Beaten in China
- Feds Join Suit against Bibles in S.C. Jail
Christians to ‘Light a Candle’ for Asia Bibi on April 20
ASSIST News Service reports that a religious foundation is Pakistan urging Christians to set aside April 20 as a day of prayer and fasting for Asia Bibi. The Christian mother of five is the first Pakistani woman to be sentenced to death under the country's blasphemy laws. The Masih Foundation, a Pakistani charity dedicated to helping and protecting the poor and vulnerable, has aksed Christians worldwide to "light a candle" and pray for Bibi. The Catholic Diocese of Pakistan has announced that it will participate in the initiative, and the Italian Church has reportedly joined as well. Bishop Rufin Anthony, the Catholic Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, said, “We will join the Masih Foundation in lighting a candle for Asia Bibi during the Holy Week, and I ask all Christians to pray and fast for Asia Bibi, who even if she is ill prays and fasts. The Masih Foundation supports and sustains the family of Asia Bibi and is involved in this case."
What People Gave Up for Lent, According to Twitter
Going without while observing Lent is supposed to be a quieter practice, but every year people use social networking sites to trumpet their sacrifices, whether silly or serious. For the past three years, Stephen Smith has used Twitter's API to catalog what people say are giving up. The Christianity Today Liveblog reports that the list includes traditional items such as chocolate and red meat, but also includes sarcastic entries. The list drew from 85,000 original tweets from March 7-10. More than 8,000 people announced they were giving up either Twitter or Facebook. The top 10 list include swearing, chocolate, Lent, and fast food. Other tongue-in-cheek entries in the top 100 mentioned giving up Charlie Sheen, winning, and lint.
Two Underground Priests Arrested and Beaten in China
At least two Catholic priests in communion with the Vatican have been detained and tortured in 2011 for their refusal to register with the government-sponsored Catholic Church. The state church is associated with the Communist Party-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. AsiaNews reports that on April 9, Fr. Chen Hailong was taken away by officials in Yanqing Beijing County and has not yet been released. The other priest, Fr. Zhang Guangjun, was arrested in February and released for medical treatment at the end of March. He says he was tortured for refusing to join the independent and self-managed Church. “To concelebrate (with patriotic priests) is never possible. As being held, I don’t expect to leave here freely,” he said at the time.
Feds Join Suit against Bibles in S.C. Jail
Bibles cannot be the only reading materials allowed in jail, the U.S. Department of Justice said in joining a lawsuit against a South Carolina detention center on Tuesday. Religion News Service reports that the original suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Prison Legal News last October, charged that the Berkeley County Detention Center's policy of banning all books other than the Bible was unconstitutional. "The county's religious intolerance tramples our freedom of religion which is a cornerstone of the United States Constitution," said William N. Nettles, the U.S. Attorney for South Carolina, in a statement Wednesday. Sandy Senn, an attorney for Sheriff Wayne DeWitt, told the Associated Press she wants to meet with Nettles to discuss the suit, and said inmates at the facility in Moncks Corner have been allowed to receive any number of soft-sided books since June 2009.