Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- 'Underground' Project to Deploy Defectors Back to N. Korea
- Religious Freedom Panel Seeks Stepped-Up U.S. Role in Sudan
- Restrictive Religion Law Fails Muster in Kazakhstan
- Christian Groups Applaud U.N. Report on India's Intolerance
'Underground' Project to Deploy Defectors Back to N. Korea
The Christian Post reports that one ministry is working to put escaped North Korean Christians back where they came from -- and these persecuted believers are excited about the opportunity. The new Underground University project by Seoul USA puts North Korean Christians through a 12-month intensive training process in Seoul, preparing them with ministry tools to reach others in North Korea with the Gospel. "Many Americans have heard about the tens of thousands who are active in the underground North Korean Church, but an equally amazing trend is the growing number of North Korean exiles who are eager to return to China and North Korea to reach their countrymen," said H.S. Foley, the CEO of Seoul USA. These Christians will deploy to North Korea, China, and other countries where North Korean diplomats and students live.
Religious Freedom Panel Seeks Stepped-Up U.S. Role in Sudan
Religion News Service reports that a federal religious freedom watchdog panel is urging President Obama to step up efforts to maintain the fragile peace in Sudan. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on Wednesday (Feb. 11) asked the White House to appoint a Special Envoy to Sudan and to confront China over the flow of weapons into the war-torn country. Sudan's largely Christian south and Muslim north reached a tentative peace deal in 2005 after 21 years of brutal civil war. Commission members say the U.S. needs to take an aggressive role in ensuring compliance with Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Specifically, the Commission urged special attention on infrastructure and economic needs in southern Sudan, and greater religious freedom protection for non-Muslims in northern Sudan, which is governed by Islamic law.
Restrictive Religion Law Fails Muster in Kazakhstan
Mission News Network reports that Kazakhstan's Constitutional Council has declared a restrictive religion law unconstitutional, letting Christians breathe a temporary sigh of relief. Kazakhstan's president must still review the opinion, and may propose changes to the decision within ten days. The Council must approve his changes. The law would have banned unregistered religious activity, meetings and evangelism. The ruling may also help ease existing restraints on religious freedom. Many speculate that the decision comes as a political preparation for when Kazakhstan will assume chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010.
Christian Groups Applaud U.N. Report on India's Intolerance
A new U.N. report on India's religious violence has won the approval of two Christian rights groups, according to the Christian Post. The report, by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, notes the contradiction between the “religious diversity of India and the positive impact of secularism” that coexists with a “system of impunity [that] emboldens forces of intolerance.” All India Christian Council President Dr. Joseph D'souza praised the analysis, saying the report "painted a balanced and authentic picture of the state of religious freedom in India ... The increasing violence against religious minorities by religious fundamentalists urgently warrants this level of attention."