Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Christians Celebrate Victory on UK Equality Bill
- More than 300 Arrested in Jos, Nigeria Violence
- Despite Democracy, Christians in Bhutan Remain Underground
- U.S. Passes 50 Million Abortion Mark
Christians Celebrate Victory on UK Equality Bill
Christian Today reports that Christians in the United Kingdom are breathing a sigh of relief after an amendment protecting religious groups was tacked onto the controversial Equality Bill. The bill would have prevented churches and other religious groups from discriminating against potential hires for reasons of sexuality, religion or belief. Lady O'Cathain's amendment, which passed the House of Lords on Jan. 25, allows churches to pick job candidates according to their values. "Surely churches should be free to employ people whose conduct is consistent with church teaching," said the Christian Institute's Mike Judge. "Surely that's not asking too much. It's called freedom of association, and it's a key liberty in any democratic society. The fact that the Government couldn't see this will concern many Christians."
More than 300 Arrested in Jos, Nigeria Violence
ASSIST News Service reports that more than 300 people suspected of being involved in last week's deadly religious clashes in central Nigeria have been arrested, according to police. Troops have been ordered to remain at their posts to avoid the army being dragged into the conflict, AFP reports. "Although an exact death toll is not known, 300 or more are thought to have died in the Muslim-Christian clashes," the BBC wrote. "Scores of bodies have been found in wells near Jos, a city straddling the Christian south and Muslim north. Many of those arrested were previously taken into custody during similar violence in November 2008, a state government spokesman said. "We are afraid the same situation will occur again. They were moved to Abuja last time, but they were never prosecuted," Plateau state government spokesperson Gregory Yenlong said. About 5,000 people fled last weekend's violence.
Despite Democracy, Christians in Bhutan Remain Underground
Compass Direct News reports that in Bhutan, an isolated nation in the eastern Himalayas known as the "Land of the Thunder Dragon," almost everything looks uniformly Buddhist. There are no visible signs of Christians' tiny presence, but they do exist. Christians, whose only official identity falls in the "others" category in the census, are estimated to range in number between 3,000 and 6,000. They live out their Christian lives underground - no church buildings, Christian cemeteries or Christian bookstores are yet allowed. Asked what would happen if authorities found out about his underground church, a pastor who requested anonymity said that before 2008 they would have been arrested because Christianity was banned. "Even now, there will be serious repercussions," he said. "What exactly will happen, I do not know. But no Christian worker will take the risk to find it out the hard way."
U.S. Passes 50 Million Abortion Mark
Baptist Press reports that at some point during the past two years the United States experienced its 50 millionth legal abortion. The statistic -- which spans the 37 years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 -- is based on data compiled by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute and tallied by the National Right to Life Committee. The 50 million mark was passed in 2008 and likely approached or reached 52 million in 2009, although data is not yet available for that year. In contrast, the combined number of military deaths in all of America's wars -- from the Revolutionary War to the second Iraq war -- is 1.2 million. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll from September 2008 showed that 10 percent of registered voters believed abortion should always be illegal and 37 percent believed it should be legal only in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother's life.