Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Atheists Sue to Stop `In God We Trust' Engraving
- Refugees Return to Swat Valley; Aid Still Needed
- American Child Sex Slaves Being Arrested, Not Rescued
- Muslims Order Halt to Church Building in Indonesia
Atheists Sue to Stop `In God We Trust' Engraving
Religion News Service reports that the nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday (July 14) to exclude "In God We Trust" and "one nation under God" from the new Capitol Visitor Center. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based church-state watchdog group, claimed the engravings are unconstitutional. Further, they say, the phrases would exclude the 15 percent of Americans who identify themselves as non-religious. The House and Senate passed resolutions this month approving the inscription of the mottos in prominent areas of Capitol Visitor Center, which serves as the entrance and security screening for tourists. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said historical references to God should not be censored for political correctness.
Refugees Return to Swat Valley; Aid Still Needed
Christian Today reports that Pakistani refugees from the Swat Valley began the slow trickle home Monday, but few believe the area is truly safe. At least 1.7 million people were displaced by the fighting between Pakistan's military and the Taliban. Government-provided buses have only taken a few hundred people back, by some reports, leaving aid agencies wondering how to logistically manage those still in refugee camps and private residences. Even with aid relief difficult to access, many displaced people are wary of returning. "The army promised us twice before that they cleared the area, but then Taliban came again and again to Swat,” shopkeeper Shamsher Ali, 55, told Agence France-Presse. “Perhaps this time the Taliban will come again to Swat.”
American Child Sex Slaves Being Arrested, Not Rescued
Christian News Wire reports that many young victims of sex trafficking in America are "misidentified and labeled as prostitutes," a new study by Shared Hope International shows. "The horror is that our children are victimized twice -- first by the prostitution and then by the broken system that treats them like criminals while the buyers are given a slap on the wrist, if anything at all. What kind of message is this sending?" asked Founder and President of Shared Hope International, Linda Smith. The average child sex trafficking victim will be raped 6,000 times over the course of five years. Shared Hope International will release its full report at the Congressional Human Trafficking Briefing on Capitol Hill on July 21.
Muslims Order Halt to Church Building in Indonesia
Compass Direct News reports that several Muslim organizations joined on June 27 to demonstrate against the construction of a Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) church building. The church, located in Plaju, outside of Palembang, capital of South Sumatra Province, had verbal permission from Gov. Alex Noerdin to proceed. The South Sumatra Muslim Forum, however, demanded the group secure permission from the local Interfaith Harmony Forum and complete their permit process. The demonstrators destroyed a bridge leading to the church before demanding that the government ban the building project. They group also carried a copy of a mayoral decree dated May 2009 ordering the construction to halt.