Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- NYC Councilman Wants to Overturn School Nativity Scene Ban
- American Teens Report on Christian Persecution in Vietnam
- Mob Attacks Christians in Bangladesh
- 15,000 Students Converge in South Korea to Initiate Global Campaign
NYC Councilman Wants to Overturn School Nativity Scene Ban
It's not yet July 4, but the debate over displaying religious symbols at New York City public schools over the Christmas season already has begun. Under previously approved policy, Christmas trees are displayed alongside the Jewish menorah and the Islamic star and crescent. But according to CNSNews.com, New York City Councilman Tony Avella, Democrat, is calling on the city's Department of Education to amend the current policy by replacing the Christmas tree with a nativity scene. He plans to introduce a formal resolution in the fall. "Right now, the law calls for a menorah, star and crescent, and Christmas tree but specifically prohibits a nativity scene," Avella noted. "A menorah and a star and crescent are religious symbols. A Christmas tree is not." Avella, who represents the northeast section of Queens, said the issue was one of fairness. "I think it's disgraceful to allow other symbols of religion but discriminate against the Christian faith. My resolution is purely about inclusion." The city's Education Department currently says the three approved symbols must be displayed together, or not at all.
American Teens Report on Christian Persecution in Vietnam
As Vietnam’s president, Nguyen Minh Triet, visits the United States, his focus will be on advancing trade and technology between his country and the U.S. Nguyen will try to avoid discussing human rights and religious freedom in his country. But eight teens—six Americans and two Australians—discovered that persecution in Vietnam is real for Christians. Voice of the Martyrs reports that the teens interviewed a pastor whose house church has been repeatedly torn down by the police. They were forced to flee from a Christian youth camp when police suddenly arrived. Their adventure—Underground Reality: Vietnam—was captured on film last year and is now available on DVD from The Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry dedicated to helping persecuted Christians in nations like Vietnam.“The president of Vietnam calls evangelical Christians law-breakers and says they should be punished,” says Todd Nettleton, spokesperson for VOM. “But the reality is these are simply Christians who want the freedom to worship God according to their conscience. They love their country; they pray for their government leaders. These aren’t trouble-makers or rebels, yet they are arrested, beaten and imprisoned. We’ve received a list of more than 100 Christians currently held in Vietnamese prisons.” The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) listed Vietnam in its May, 2007, report as a “Country of Particular Concern” in regards to religious freedom.
Mob Attacks Christians in Bangladesh
A dispatch from Compass Direct News reports that Muslim villagers armed with bricks and wooden clubs savagely beat 10 Christian converts in Nilphamari district, Bangladesh, on Tuesday (June 26). The Muslims also threatened to burn down their homes if they did not leave. The mob gave the Christians an ultimatum on Wednesday (June 27) to leave the village within 24 hours, threatening more beatings along with home burnings; that deadline expired today without incident. Muslim extremists also threatened to kill two Christians. A human rights advocate working on behalf of the Christians who requested anonymity said he had contacted local police and government officials, including the district commissioner, but “they are very slow to respond.” Police rejected the Christians’ attempt to file a complaint, instead threatening to arrest them for “converting Muslims.” After receiving news of the beating, the advocate traveled to Durbachari Bhatiapara and Laksmirdanga villages to find that the mob had bound both male and female converts with ropes in their homes and “seriously wounded” them. Several victims required hospital treatment, and one house was destroyed in the attack. The attack came after 42 men and women from Muslim backgrounds were baptized at a local river on June 12.
15,000 Students Converge in South Korea to Initiate Global Campaign
Throughout history, college students have been at the forefront of change around the world - from Berkeley in the '60s, to Tiananmen Square in the '80s, to the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in the 21st century. This week, 15,000 students will gather in Busan, South Korea to initiate a worldwide effort to deliver a message of hope to college campuses around the world. The students at Campus Mission 2007 (CM 2007) will represent 127 nations, as diverse as Albania and Zimbabwe. More than 1,700 Americans are expected to attend. "History shows that college students have been at the center of change in the world’s societies regardless of race or culture," said Dr. Park Sung-Min, national director of Korea Campus Crusade for Christ. "We look forward to welcoming the students of the world to Korea, where they will be challenged to consider how God could use them to help bring His message of love to those students who have never heard it." Through CM2007, Campus Crusade for Christ will challenge and equip students to launch programs this year on 365 new campuses worldwide, where Christian communities do not currently exist.