Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- China's President Acknowledges Work to Do on Human Rights
- Professor Settles over Religious Discrimination
- Iranian Pastor Sentenced to One Year in Prison
- Ala. Governor Apologizes for Remarks on Christians
China's President Acknowledges Work to Do on Human Rights
Chinese President Hu Jintao has acknowledged that "a lot still needs to be done" in China over human rights. ASSIST News Service reports that President Hu commented at a rare joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama on the first full day of his state visit to the US. When asked to justify China's human rights record, Hu said China had "made enormous progress recognized in the world." Hu said China was willing to continue a conversation about human rights on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference into China's internal affairs. President Obama admitted that differences on human rights issues were "occasionally a source of tension" between the US and China.
Professor Settles over Religious Discrimination
An astronomy professor has won a settlement after suing the University of Kentucky for religious discrimination, a case that could have national implications regarding religious intolerance in academia. Baptist Press reports that the university agreed to pay $125,000 to Martin Gaskell, who was represented in the case by the American Center for Law and Justice. "In bringing this case and successfully resolving it we believe we have shed some light on a problem that is by no means limited to the University of Kentucky," Frank Manion, senior trial counsel for ACLJ, said Jan. 18. Gaskell, now a research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, was one of two finalists in 2007 in the search for a founding director of the University of Kentucky's MacAdam Student Observatory. The search committee initially described him as "breathtakingly above the other applicants," but then discovered that Gaskell was "potentially evangelical." The committee chose a former student and employee of the university's physics and astronomy department.
Iranian Pastor Sentenced to One Year in Prison
ASSIST News Service reports that an Iranian pastor has been sentenced to one year in prison. Behnam Irani, pastor of a small church in Karaj, Iran, was leading a church service on April 14, 2010, when Iranian secret police interrupted. Irani was beaten in front of the believers, and then arrested. The believers present were detained for questioning but not arrested, said Jason DeMars, who runs Present Truth Ministries. Irani was released on bail, but faced trial on Jan. 16. Demars said he was "charged with action against the Order (government) and has been sentenced to one year in prison. He has 20 days to appeal the ruling before he begins to serve the sentence." Irani is married with two children.
Ala. Governor Apologizes for Remarks on Christians
The Associated Press reports that Alabama's new governor is already backtracking from a political faux pas, just a few days after being sworn into office. Gov. Robert Bentley apologized Wednesday for proclaiming to a Baptist church audience that only Christians were his brothers and sisters and vowed to work for people of all faiths and colors. Bentley, a Southern Baptist deacon, said, "If anyone from other religions felt disenfranchised by the language, I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone in any way." On Monday, Bentley attended a service honoring Martin Luther King Jr. at the civil rights activist's home church. During a speech there, Bentley said, "Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother. The former director of the Center For The Study Of The Law And The Church, Chris Doss, said he wasn't too worried about Bentley's slip. "He was talking to his own flock," Doss said.