Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.
In today's edition:
- Religious Groups Push Action on Prison Rape
- Slow Donor Response Threatens Flood Efforts in Pakistan
- Mother of Cuban Prisoner Prevented from Attending Church
- China: Pastor Wang Dao Interrogated and Released
Religious Groups Push Action on Prison Rape
Six months before she was scheduled to be released on drug charges, Marilyn Shirley was raped in 2000 by a guard at the Texas prison where she was serving time. Her attacker said she wasn't "the only one." Now an assortment of 35 religious and human rights groups is pushing Attorney General Eric Holder to adopt standards that would clamp down on the estimated 60,000 cases that happen each year. "What we are witnessing is justice denied," said Tim Goeglein, vice president of external relations at Focus on the Family and one of the signers of a letter. Religion News Service reports that he standards, proposed last year, would subject correctional facilities to audits and establish a protocol for handling rape in their facilities. According to the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act, they were supposed to be enacted by Holder by June of this year.
Slow Donor Response Threatens Flood Efforts in Pakistan
Aid groups working to help Pakistan's 20 million flood victims says they need a more robust respond from the international donor community to help the country. So far, only $229 million in support and $142 million in other pledges have reached aid groups; that amount won't even cover the initial three-month relief needs outlined by the United Nations, says Donna Derr, Director of Humanitarian Assistance for Church World Service. "Thankfully the flood's death toll has remained relatively low but disasters can't be measured by just the number of dead," she added. "Effective humanitarian response must be measured against the all the people affected, just struggling to survive." Derr says CWS worries that donors will act too slowly in fulfilling their pledges.
Mother of Cuban Prisoner Prevented from Attending Church
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling on the Cuban government to allow the mother of a Cuban prisoner of conscience to attend religious services and visit her son's grave. Reina Luis Tamayo Danger says her family has been harassed frequently since her son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died in Cuban prison earlier this year. Since the beginning of August, on consecutive Sundays, State Security agents and others in the town of Banes have physically blocked the road taken by Tamayo Danger on her way to church. According to Tamayo Danger, for over five months she and her family have been subjected to acts of intimidation from government officials, including verbal abuse and threats of violence. CSW's National Director Stuart Windsor says, "No one should be subjected to these tactics of intimidation simply because they are attempting to attend a weekly religious service, a right enjoyed by religious believers across Cuba."
China: Pastor Wang Dao Interrogated and Released
Following two years of repeated evictions and harassment, Liangren House Church faced more uncertainty this week when their pastor, Wang Dao, was "harassed, detained, and interrogated." ASSIST News Service reports that the church was also evicted from its meeting place in the Zhuying Hotel on August 11. Under great pressures from the police and other government agencies, the hotel unilaterally terminated the one-year lease contract it signed just one month before. The next day, Wang Dao was detained for gathering the church at his house for worship. He now free on bail pending trial. The pastor has been arrested in the past, most recently on June 13, when he was charged with "hindering credit card registration." Liangren Church has been forced to meet outdoors repeatedly, after being evicted under pressure from Guangzhou authorities.