Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- China Plans to Eradicate House Churches
- Air Force to Remove Requirement for Hotel Bibles
- Study: Abortions Lead to Mental Health Problems During Subsequent Pregnancies
- Atheists Want Rhode Island Firehouse Cross Removed
China Plans to Eradicate House Churches
China's government is engaged in a three-phase campaign to eradicate Protestant house churches, according to a statement released April 20 by the China Aid Association (CAA), reports Compass Direct News. The government's strategy was clearly outlined in a document released last September during a training class for "Patriots in the Christian Community" run by the State Administration for Religious Affairs. From January through June of this year, the document called for local authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of house churches nationwide and create dossiers on each of them. In phase two, for the following two to three years, authorities would strongly encourage unregistered churches to affiliate with the government-approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), and in phase three, to be completed within 10 years, churches refusing to comply would be shut down. Officials would also ban the words "house church" and all reports on house churches from websites and other media and replace the term with "house gatherings" -- a term that would refer to groups meeting in sites affiliated with the TSPM. In a recent survey, more than 95 percent of house church leaders said they had already felt the impact of these investigations, and 85 percent said local religious affairs departments had already created a dossier for their group. "Since the beginning of 2012, we have noticed an increase in the frequency of persecution," the CAA said.
Air Force to Remove Requirement for Hotel Bibles
The Air Force will no longer require Air Force Inns -- temporary lodging facilities found at most major Air Force bases -- to have Bibles in their rooms, WORLD News Service reports. According to a statement released by the National Prayer Caucus, "After receiving a complaint by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, the Air Force will remove 'Is a Bible provided?' from the checklist that staff at Air Force Inns use when ensuring that rooms comply with lodging standards." An Air Force official said, "After a legal review, the Air Force Services Agency determined that there was no legal reason to have the question on the lodging checklist." Bibles are placed in Air Force Inn rooms by the Gideons, at no cost to the government.
Study: Abortions Lead to Mental Health Problems During Subsequent Pregnancies
A new study from China shows that women who have had abortions have mental health problems during subsequent pregnancies, WORLD News Service reports. The study, published by the Bulletin of Clinical Psychopharmacology, found that women who had an induced abortion a year or more prior to a subsequent pregnancy were 49 percent more likely to experience depression and 114 percent more likely to suffer from anxiety in the first trimester compared to women with no abortion history. "[The] adverse mental health effects of induced abortion are far more severe than those of miscarriage and they persist longer," the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute said in a report on the study.
Atheists Want Rhode Island Firehouse Cross Removed
Atheists and other activists are calling for the removal of a cross on a World War I memorial in front of a local firehouse in Rhode Island, CBN News reports. The Freedom From Religion Foundation says the cross -- which tops a stone structure that has stood in front of the firehouse since 1921 -- is a religious symbol and thus should not be displayed on public property. In a letter to the mayor of Woonsocket, R.I., the group claimed the cross "impermissibly demonstrates a preference for religion over nonreligion," and also called out a popular "Firefighters Prayer" posted on the fire department's website. Mayor Leo Fontaine has so far not indicated any plans to remove the cross.
Publication date: April 26, 2012