Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- North Korea Tops List of Countries Persecuting Christians
- Christian Prison Program in Minn. Will Continue Without State Funds
- Lutheran Committee Calls Ban Against Active Gay Clergy 'Bad Policy'
- Hong Kong Roman Catholic Cardinal Slams Beijing
North Korea Tops List of Countries Persecuting Christians
The "World Watch List," compiled annually by Open Doors USA, ranks countries according to the intensity of persecution Christians face for pursuing their faith. For five years running, North Korea has topped that list. In six of the top ten persecuting countries, the predominate religion is Islam. The communist nation of North Korea, under the dictatorial hand of Kim Jong-il, has once again topped a list of countries that persecute Christians, AgapePress reports. "Nothing has changed" for the North Korean people, says Open Doors, despite media attention focused on the country last year because of the regime's missile and nuclear testing.
Christian Prison Program in Minn. Will Continue Without State Funds
The Christian Post reports that a Christian prison program that has drawn criticism will continue in Minnesota prisons, but without state funds after the Department of Corrections ended a $100,000 yearly subsidy. Corrections officials said Thursday that they won't pay the InnerChange Freedom Initiative this year after Corrections Commissioner Joan Fabian learned that the program wasn't charging the state of Texas. "I found out after we negotiated the second (two-year) contract that Texas wasn't paying at all," Fabian said. "And just the day before yesterday, one of the board members called and said yes, it would be OK if we didn't pay them any more, either." InnerChange uses Christian teachings to prepare inmates for life outside prison.
Lutheran Committee Calls Ban Against Active Gay Clergy 'Bad Policy'
The Christian Post reports that the largest Lutheran denomination in the nation plans to reconsider its policy on barring active homosexuals from ordained ministry after it recently defrocked one such clergy member. While the ruling committee made its decision in alignment with ELCA's policy on homosexual ministers, it called the policy a "bad" one. If the requirement were removed, the committee said that it would "almost unanimously" have kept the defrocked individual as a clergy member. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest homosexual group, called the committee's suggestions "encouraging," while some evangelicals spoke out in disappointment.
Hong Kong Roman Catholic Cardinal Slams Beijing
According to ASSIST News Service, the head of Hong Kong's Roman Catholic Church has urged the Vatican to end its search for a compromise with Beijing. Cardinal Joseph Zen told Britain’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) the ordinations last year of three bishops without Vatican approval were "illegitimate" and "acts of war." As Zen returned from a trip to Rome he said Beijing's refusal to recognize the Vatican's authority has overturned two decades of compromise efforts. Pope Benedict XVI is due to make his position clear in the coming months.