Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Christian Bookstore Owner Released from Chinese Prison
- States Caught in Crossfire over Guns in Churches
- Suit: U.S. Catholic Leaders Failed to Protect Kids
- Pakistan Minorities Minister Retains His Position
Christian Bookstore Owner Released from Chinese Prison
Open Doors USA reports that Christian bookstore owner Shi Weihan has been released from prison in China. Shi was released Feb. 9 and returned home Feb. 10. "Many brothers and sisters from his church welcomed him and celebrated with him when he arrived at his home," one Christian said. He asked other Christians to pray for Shi and his wife Zhang Jing that God will refresh their spirits together in a "quiet place" after a separation of approximately three years. Chinese authorities arrested Shi for "illegal business activities" in June 2009. Shi's store operated legally and sold only books for which he had obtained government permission. His other venture, Holy Spirit Trading Company, printed Bibles and Christian literature without authorization but only for free distribution to local house churches.
States Caught in Crossfire over Guns in Churches
Pastor Jonathan Wilkins wants members of his Baptist church in Thomaston, Ga., to have the right to carry guns into worship services. He says he wants to protect the congregation. Religion News Service reports that Wilkins' Baptist Tabernacle and other group are challenging a new state law that prohibits weapons in houses of worship. A lower court ruled against them in January; the case is now headed for appeal. "What we're fighting for is not that just any old body can carry guns in church," Wilkins said. "We would be responsible. We would want people who are trained, and so forth, to carry, people that we designate for protective purposes." State legislatures in Georgia, Michigan and Louisiana are all debating the merits of weapons in houses of worship.
Suit: U.S. Catholic Leaders Failed to Protect Kids
The Associated Press reports a new suit against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has brought renewed attention to clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania. The 28-year-old "John Doe" plaintiff is one of the first to take advantage of a 2002 law that gives child sex-abuse victims until age 30 to press charges. The law bypasses the normal statute of limitations in Pennsylvania to give child victims more time to come forward. "It's only now that he's been stable enough to weather a lawsuit," said the man's lawyer, Dan Monahan of Exton, who has been working with the client for a year. "I think we have a window of opportunity here ... that the other suits have not had." A grand jury report last week charged three priests, a former priest and a teacher with abusing children or helping cover it up emboldened the victim.
Pakistan Minorities Minister Retains His Position
ASSIST News Service reports that Christians in Pakistan are thankful the country's Minorities Minister was not sent packing during a recent government reshuffling. Shahbaz Bhatti will remain the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs. Bhatti has become a lightning rod for extremists in Pakistan, who have issued multiple death threats against him, including beheading, because he had proposed an amendment to the country's controversial blasphemy law and also his recent request for a pardon for Asia Bibi, the 45-year-old mother of five, who was been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy. The international community has pressured Pakistan's government to take notice of the growing violence against religious minorities in the country.