Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- California Gay Marriage Ban Goes On Trial
- 19 Christians Arrested in Xinjiang, China
- Sudan Archbishop Calls for Action to Stop New Conflict
- Ugandan Lawmaker Will Not WithdrawAnti-Gay Bill
California Gay Marriage Ban Goes On Trial
NPR reports that California's ban on gay marriage came under federal scrutiny on Monday in the first federal trial to determine if the ban is unconstitutional. California's Proposition 8 received a majority vote in a November 2008 referendum, reversing the state supreme court's original decision. The case's plaintiffs have the backing of many who funded opposition to Proposition 8. "What's at stake in this case is not only the definition of marriage in California but the potential that Americans will be forced to forfeit the core of our democracy by allowing a small group of wealthy activists to impose their will on a state - or an entire nation - through the courts," Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defense Fund, told The Christian Post.
19 Christians Arrested in Xinjiang, China
ASSIST News Service reports that Han and Uyghur Christians faced a new wave of persecution recently in the religiously-charged Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. On Dec. 25, 2009, farm leaders and police broke into the home of Wang Qiyue, a 71-year-old widow, disrupting the Christmas gathering and ransacking her home. According to ChinaAid, these "People's Police" burned Ms. Wang's furniture, as she was thrown against a police car by the Korla Chief of Security, Yu Fagan. ChinaAid goes on to say that six farm leaders next barged into the home of 69-year-old hemiplegic He Cuiying, and confiscated more than 30 Bibles and Christian books. The leaders then burned the materials in a bonfire outside her home, as a means of public humiliation. Later, five elderly Christians were arrested with no cause and fined 5,000 Yuan each.
Sudan Archbishop Calls for Action to Stop New Conflict
Christian Today reports that the Archbishop of Sudan joined protesters Saturday in the United Kingdom to plead for intervention in Sudan. The Most Rev. Daniel Deng joined 10 aid agencies, including World Vision, Tearfund and Oxfam, all calling attention to Sudan's deteriorating political scene. Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which officially ended the country's genocide and civil war, seemed on the verge of collapse in 2009 and must give way to national elections in 2010. About 2,500 people were killed last year, many of them women and children, and another 350,000 were displaced by ongoing violence. "It is not yet too late to avert disaster, but the next 12 months are a crossroads for Africa's largest country," said Maya Mailer, Policy Advisor for Oxfam. Deng and the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams met yesterday with Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the issue.
Ugandan Lawmaker Will Not Withdraw Anti-Gay Bill
The Christian Post reports that the sponsor of a Ugandan bill that would extend the death penalty to some homosexuals says he "will not withdraw it." Member of Parliament David Bahati said, "The process of legislating a law to protect our children against homosexuality and defending our family values must go on." On Sunday, Uganda's Minister of State for Investment Aston Kajara asked Bahati to withdraw the bill, acknowledging rising international outcry against it. "Ever since the bill was tabled, there have been a lot of outcries not only here but from all over the world," Kajara said. The bill would expand the current ban on homosexuality to the death penalty in some cases and would require Ugandans to report anyone they know who is gay.