Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 11, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 11, 2008

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Eritrean Officials Imprison 35 Members of Underground Church
  • North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran are World's Worst Persecutors
  • Dobson Endorses Mike Huckabee
  • Canadian Teacher May Lose License for Defending Christian Beliefs

Eritrean Officials Imprison 35 Members of Underground Church

ASSIST News Service reports that Eritrean officials imprisoned 35 men, women and children belonging to the underground Faith Missions Church on Christmas Eve 2007. According to International Christian Concern (ICC), Eritrean government security agents raided a building in the port city of Massawa, where the members of the underground church were holding a prayer vigil. ICC reported that the imprisoned Christians were placed in Weea Military Training Center, and according to ICC sources, are still there. According to ICC, Weea is one of the most notorious prisons in the country, where the temperature can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Many prisoners die from the heat and the torture inflicted on them. One recent death was that of a Christian woman, Migsti Haile, who died on Sept. 5, 2007, after being severely tortured for refusing to recant her faith. ICC sources from inside Eritrea said that Christians in the town of Agordat have also been imprisoned, as well as six other Faith Missions members from the small town of Nakfa.

North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran are World's Worst Persecutors

For the sixth consecutive year, North Korea has been named the world's worst violator of religious freedom, according to a leading Christian watchdog organization. reports that Open Doors' 2008 "world watch list" is dominated by Muslim-majority countries, which account for 14 of the 20 most egregious persecutors; and communist nations, which make up four of the remaining six. The last two are a Buddhist monarchy and a region of Russia. Saudi Arabia, ruled by a Sunni Wahhabist royal family, was in second place for the fifth straight year, while Shi'ite Iran was in third place for the third year in a row. Rounding out the top ten offenders, in order, were the Maldives, Bhutan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Laos, Uzbekistan and China. Open Doors says it ranks countries based on the intensity of persecution Christians face for actively pursuing their faith, after putting 50 questions to contacts, religious believers and fieldworkers in the various countries. "There is no other country in the world where Christians are being persecuted in such a horrible and systematic manner," Dr. Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, said of Kim Jong-il's North Korea.

Dobson Endorses Mike Huckabee

The Associated Press reported that evangelical leader James Dobson backed Mike Huckabee's presidential bid Thursday night, giving the former Arkansas governor a long-sought endorsement. In a statement first obtained by The Associated Press, Dobson reiterated his declaration on Super Tuesday that he could not in good conscience vote for John McCain, the front-runner, because of concerns over the Arizona senator's conservative credentials. With Mitt Romney's campaign suspended, Dobson said "The remaining candidate for whom I could vote is Governor Huckabee. His unwavering positions on the social issues, notably the institution of marriage, the importance of faith and the sanctity of human life, resonate deeply with me and with many others... I believe he is our best remaining choice for president of the United States." Dobson's statement said he would "support Governor Huckabee through the remaining primaries," but it wasn't clear whether that meant campaigning for him. A Huckabee campaign spokeswoman said late Thursday he was unavailable for comment, but confirmed that he and Dobson had spoken.

Canadian Teacher May Lose License for Defending Christian Beliefs

According to, British Columbia teacher Chris Kempling was cited in 2003 by the College of Teachers for professional misconduct after he wrote in to a local newspaper outlining Christian teachings on homosexuality. Kempling was found guilty of the charges, and his teaching license was suspended for a month. Kempling appealed that decision in the Canadian court system, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. In the process he spent "well over" a hundred-thousand dollars in legal fees, he says. In the end, the Supreme Court denied his appeal. And now Kempling has discovered that he is facing yet another citation from the College; and this time around, says Kempling, it is possible that he could lose his teaching license altogether. Kempling told supporters that he received a letter informing him that he is being cited on numerous counts for conduct "unbecoming" of a teacher. One of the counts on which he has been cited, he says, is simply for being a candidate for the federal political party, the Christian Heritage Party. "They have cited me for participating in a CBC radio interview where I quoted the Bible saying that homosexual behaviour is a barrier to salvation," he wrote.