Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Zimbabwe Police Crush Prayer and Protest Rally
- Evangelicals Condemn Torture
- Four Christians Missing in Sri Lanka
- Christians 3,500-strong from 48 States to Protest War at National Cathedral, Risk Arrest at White House
Zimbabwe Police Crush Prayer and Protest Rally
One person was killed, a number injured and over 35 arrested in Harare on Sunday, March 11, after hundreds of armed riot police used shotguns and teargas to shut down a prayer meeting about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, ASSIST News Service reports. Church and civil society groups were reportedly among the organizers of the event. The emphasis on prayer was partly a way of trying to avoid the current ban on public demonstrations against the rule of President Robert Mugabe. Organizers of the prayer meeting decided to go ahead with the rally despite police warnings on Saturday that it would not be permitted. An Ekklesia story went on to say, “There is growing unrest across Zimbabwe, especially in urban areas... Many basic foods and commodities are either not available or are far too expensive for average citizens.
Evangelicals Condemn Torture
The National Association of Evangelicals has endorsed an anti-torture statement saying the U.S. has crossed "boundaries of what is legally and morally permissible" in its treatment of prisoners in the fight against terror, says a story in The Church Report. The document alleges that human rights violations committed in the name of preventing terrorist attacks have made the U.S. look hypocritical to the Muslim world, and that Christians have a scriptural obligation to help Americans "regain our moral clarity." The document is titled: "An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture: Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Terror." 17 evangelical scholars, writers and activists calling themselves Evangelicals for Human Rights wrote the statement under the umbrella of the NAE, which endorsed the document. The Rev. Rich Cizik, the NAE's Washington policy director who has recently drawn criticism from James Dobson and others for his environmental activism, was one of the document's co-authors. Cizik insisted the statement was not a critique of the Bush administration, but a message to the world that evangelicals and other U.S. citizens do not support torture.
Four Christians Missing in Sri Lanka
A pastor, his two sons and another young man were reported missing on March 2 after they disappeared en route to a bus stop in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Compass Direct News reports. Pastor Victor Emmanuel Yogarajan, 51, from the Gospel Missionary Church in Vavuniya, along with his sons – Daniel Yogarajan, 22, and David Yogarajan, 20 – along with 20-year-old Joseph Sugandakumar, had stayed overnight in Negombo. Other members of Pastor Yogarajan’s family filed a missing persons’ report. Increased disappearances and a general climate of impunity are sparked by clashes between government forces and Tamil rebels.
Christians 3,500-strong from 48 States to Protest War at National Cathedral, Risk Arrest at White House
Christian Peace Witness for Iraq will begin with a worship service on Friday, March 16 at Washington National Cathedral to be attended by more than 3,500 Christians from 48 states, followed by a candlelight procession through the center of the District, where thousands of Christians will surround the White House bearing the light of peace. 700 will risk arrest by remaining in prayer in front of the White House. The service begins at 7 p.m., and the White House vigil will begin at 10:30 p.m. It will be the largest Christian peace demonstration, as well as the largest single civil disobedience action at the White House, since the beginning of the Iraq war four years ago. Well-known participants in Christian Peace Witness for Iraq include: Jim Wallis, Taylor Branch, Bernice Powell Jackson, and Rick Ufford Chase.