Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 30, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 30, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Chinese Activist Reportedly Escapes Home Prison
  • Planned Parenthood Spokesman Joins Obama Administration
  • Arizona Governor Signs More Pro-Family Legislation
  • Kidnapped Swiss Christian Freed Amid Mali's Unrest


Chinese Activist Reportedly Escapes Home Prison

A blind Chinese human rights activist who was being imprisoned and tortured in his own home has reportedly escaped, according to Attorney Chen Guangcheng, who was jailed and tortured for more than four years for fighting against China's one-child policy and exposing more than 100,000 forced abortions, had been released from prison to his home -- but police turned that into a prison for him, his wife and two children, where they continued to torture the couple. Chen's whereabouts are not known at this time, but Ann Buwalda of the Jubilee Campaign said there were indications he was in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. "If it is true, that's great -- and we need to hope and pray that our U.S. government forces take action to protect him and don't turn him back over to the Chinese secret police," Buwalda said. "If it's not true, then we definitely need to be praying for his ongoing safety." There are also reports that two of Chen's relatives have been arrested, and there are concerns over a lack of information regarding the whereabouts of his wife and children. Several organizations on the ground continue to monitor the situation.

Planned Parenthood Spokesman Joins Obama Administration

The Obama administration has hired a Planned Parenthood spokesman to be one of its spokesmen, Baptist Press reports. The Department of Health and Human Services announced April 20 its hiring of Tait Sye, media director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as its deputy assistant secretary for public affairs. Sye served in the PPFA position for more than four years, participating this January in PPFA's defense of the HHS abortion/contraceptive mandate, which requires all health plans to cover contraceptives and sterilizations without cost to employees. Sye is expected to deal with abortion and contraception as part of HHS communications involving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, said: "Personnel is policy. ... This is one more example of how intertwined the Obama administration is with the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood."

Arizona Governor Signs More Pro-Family Legislation

Family advocates had a lot to celebrate on April 18, when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law three pieces of legislation protecting life, religious freedom and taxpayer funding of arts programs, WORLD News Service reports. Under an amendment attached to HB 2265, no state dollars will go toward funding obscene art. HB 2627 decrees that abortion providers cannot qualify for a tax credit given to the working poor, and SB 1359 bans anyone in the state from filing a "wrongful cause of life" lawsuit against doctors who fail to diagnose birth defects in unborn children that might lead parents to have abortions. Brewer also signed a bill allowing schools to offer an elective course on the Bible as literature.

Kidnapped Swiss Christian Freed Amid Mali's Unrest

Separatist Islamist rebels released a Swiss Christian woman kidnapped by a private militia on April 15 amid turmoil in Timbuktu, Mali, Compass Direct News reports. Beatrice Stockly, a Christian social worker in her 40s, had refused to leave Timbuktu when Tuareg rebels and Islamic extremists captured it on April 1, despite the fact that most Westerners had left due to fears of being kidnapped and passed on to al Qaeda cells that have a history of holding Westerners for millions of dollars in ransom payments. Armed members of the Islamist group Ansar Dine took custody of Stockly after a shootout with an unidentified private militia that had seized her and wanted to sell her to al Qaeda's North African branch, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Ansar Dine, which has imposed sharia (Islamic law) in areas under its control in northern Mali, then handed Stockly to the Swiss government on April 24 without demanding a ransom. Stockly is now reportedly safe in Burkina Faso.

Publication date: April 30, 2012