Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Groups Press for Religious Freedom Envoy
- Signs of Witness Intimidation Mount in Orissa
- Tiller's Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison
Groups Press for Religious Freedom Envoy
Religion News Service reports that 29 human rights groups and faith leaders again urged President Obama to appoint an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Leaders from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, and Mormon groups signed the open letter, which was sent on March 30. "The absence of senior level leadership in your administration on this critical issue is of grave and urgent concern," they wrote. The letter was signed by the former director of the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom, and a former ambassador for international religious freedom. A White House spokesman said the president "remains committed to filling this position with the most qualified candidate."
Signs of Witness Intimidation Mount in Orissa, India
Compass Direct News reports that a judge this week granted a change of venue for the trial of men accused of gang-raping a nun in Orissa in 2008. The nun, Meena Lilita Barwa, had argued that witnesses would be intimidated into refraining from testifying if the trial were held in Kandhamal district. After a series of trials in which murder suspects in the 2008 violence have gone free as Hindu extremist threats have kept witnesses from testifying, a 6-year-old girl has identified a local politician as the man who killed her father. "There has been no conviction in any case of murder," said Dr. John Dayal, a member of the National Integration Council. "More than 70 people were killed, and trial is being held only for 38 or so of those deaths. Eleven murder cases have been tried with no one being indicted or sentenced for murder so far - because of terrible investigation by the police, a poor show by the prosecuting lawyers and shoddy judicial process."
Tiller's Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison
Religion News Service reports that the man who murdered an abortion doctor in the foyer of his Lutheran church in Kansas has been sentenced to life in prison. The sentence for Scott Roeder, 52, carries no possibility of parole for 50 years, the longest sentence possible under state law. Scott Roeder, 52, said at his sentencing hearing on April 1 that he killed George Tiller "so he could not dismember another baby." Roeder also said that he was following "God's law" to prevent abortions, according to media reports. Tiller, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and an usher at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, was one of the few doctors in the U.S. who performed late-term abortions.