Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Ten Commandments Monument Removed in North Carolina
- Christians Falsely Blamed for Death of Buddhist Monk in Sri Lanka
- Lao Officials Threaten Death by Farm Tools
- Conservatives Applaud Bush's 'Strong Support' of Marriage
Ten Commandments Monument Removed in North Carolina
A Ten Commandments monument placed in front of the city hall building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has now reportedly been removed. One of the community's city councilmen, Vernon Robinson, along with four helpers, had placed the granite monument in front of the building on Monday when it was closed for the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. But now the city has removed the monument and taken it to a warehouse. Robinson, who is running for Congress, says he was inspired by Alabama's former chief justice, Roy Moore, who had installed a Ten Commandments monument at the state courthouse and lost his job over it. But the City of Winston-Salem says it had this latest monument removed not because of church and state issues, but rather because of safety concerns. A spokesman for the city says officials feared the one-ton, four-foot-tall monument would topple over. Robinson has not been reached for comment.
Christians Falsely Blamed for Death of Buddhist Monk in Sri Lanka
Charisma News Service
Christians in Sri Lanka were recently attacked after the death of a Buddhist monk. According to the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEARLC), although Soma Thero, who championed Buddhist nationalism, died of a heart attack while in Russia, Buddhist monks labeled his death the result of a Christian conspiracy. Rioting reportedly marked Thero's Dec. 24 funeral, when 15 Christians were wounded. On Dec. 28, two churches in Puvakpitiya were attacked as they ended morning worship. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but property damage was extensive. Security has been stepped up around churches, WEARLC said. Meanwhile, dozens of Buddhist monks protested "unethical conversions" by Christians on Dec. 29, demanding anti-conversion laws be enacted immediately in the southern Asian nation. On Jan. 5, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga warned she would deal firmly with anyone inciting Buddhists to attack Christians.
Lao Officials Threaten Death by Farm Tools
Christian Aid Report
Believers in villages of Laos's Attapue province are being told they must renounce their faith in Christ, leave their villages, or face being beaten to death with farm hand tools. A contact in the region said yesterday that the 11 believers who were released from prison January 9 are facing renewed pressure by authorities in Attapue province to renounce their faith. Along with them, 34 other believers who had fled but returned to their villages were facing similar pressure. The key men perpetrating the persecution are Mr. Bounlarb (deputy district head of Sanamsai district) and Mr. Sitad (head of religious affairs for Attapue province). On January 18 they started digging pits, saying if believers did not deny Christ, they would be buried. Believers in Dongsung village also were told they could deny Christ, leave the village, or face death. The next day these same two officials led non-Christian villagers to two other villages and threatened believers there the same way. The spokesperson thought Kang, Donthapad and Donphai villages would be next.
Conservatives Applaud Bush's 'Strong Support' of Marriage
Charisma News Service
Several pro-family Christian groups have praised President Bush's defense of traditional marriage during his State of the Union address this week. Bush "plunged squarely into the debate" over gay marriage Tuesday night, declaring that if "activist judges" insisted on redefining marriage, the nation must defend the "sanctity" of the institution by "the constitutional process." "I believe we should respect individuals as we take a principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization,” Bush said. He noted that the government already took a stand on the issue by passing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, a statute that protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, and declares that one state may not redefine marriage for other states. Christian leaders said they were pleased by what they saw as the president's embrace of the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment banning same-sex marriage--a step beyond his previous stand of supporting an amendment "if necessary." "He went over the top. I am very happy," Traditional Values Coalition chairman Louis Sheldon, said of Bush. Christian Coalition president America Roberta Combs added: "Christian Coalition particularly commends President Bush for his strong support for marriage only between a man and a woman." Concerned Women for America president Sandy Rios agreed. "The president's clarion call on the monumental importance of protecting marriage in this age of moral chaos can do nothing less than embolden Christians and conservatives," Rios said.