Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Shiites Attack Assyrian Town in North Iraq
- U.S. Activist Held in N. Korea
- WCC Head Condemns Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill
Shiites Attack Assyrian Town in North Iraq
ASSIST News Service reports that a group of armed Shabaks attacked the Assyrian town of Bartilla Christmas morning without any apparent provocation. The entry checkpoint into Bartilla was controlled by the attackers for more than five hours. Residents said attackers stormed through the Assyrian market, tearing down Christmas decorations from store windows, including throwing a picture of St. Mary into the dirt. The attackers attempted to enter St. Mary church, located in the center of the market, demanding to perform Shiite rituals of self-flagellation inside the church. Church guards stopped the attackers, resulting in a gun battle that wounded four Christians. One man is in critical condition.
U.S. Activist Held in N. Korea
AFP reports that a Christian human rights activist has allegedly been captured in North Korea after he entered the country illegally on Christmas Day. Robert Park, a U.S. citizen of Korean heritage, openly walked across the frozen Tumen River from China into North Korea, according to colleagues who watched and videotaped his actions. Park reportedly came across the border shouting, "I came here to proclaim God's love." Park carried a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il demanding the release of political prisoners and the closing of black site concentration camps. "Robert Park is out of contact now, but we got a tip-off that he is alive and being held by North Korean authorities for questioning," one of Park's colleagues told AFP Sunday on condition of anonymity.
WCC Head Condemns Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill
Religion News Service reports that the World Council of Churches has added its voice to growing worldwide concerns about a proposed Ugandan law that would allow the jailing and possible execution of gays and lesbians. Current Ugandan law allows for people to be jailed for 14 years for engaging in homosexual acts; the new proposed law would raise that to life imprisonment, though no one has ever been convicted of homosexual acts in the country. The WCC's general secretary, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, said he was "saddened and distressed" over the new law in a letter to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. "It is my hope and my prayer that you will join the African church leaders and fellow people of faith, to abstain from supporting any law which can lead to a death penalty; promotes prejudice and hatred; and which can be easily manipulated to oppress people," Kobia wrote.