Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- No Deaths Reported in Mexico 7.4-Magnitude Earthquake
- Supreme Court Shuns Christian College Groups Appeal
- China: Police Raid House Church in Xinjiang, Detain 70 Christians
- Uzbekistan Tightens Grip on Unregistered Churches With Series of Raids
No Deaths Reported in Mexico 7.4-Magnitude Earthquake
A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake that shook Mexico Monday afternoon damaged hundreds of homes and sent thousands of people running outside to the streets in fear, yet apparently didn't cause a single death, the Kansas City Star reports. As of Wednesday, there were no reports of any casualties from the quake -- centered near the border between the southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero -- even after 10 aftershocks. According to the Mexican government, two people were injured in Mexico City and nine in Oaxaca, hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, and about 300,000 were left without water because of two damaged aqueducts. Authorities said the absence of tall buildings in the mountainous, rural area was one reason for the lack of casualties. Mexico has sent emergency crews to the affected areas to help with cleanup.
Supreme Court Shuns Christian College Groups Appeal
The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a discrimination case filed by Christian college organizations at San Diego State University, CBN News reports. A Christian fraternity and sorority at SDSU had filed suit over a school "anti-discrimination" policy forbidding them from requiring members to follow certain standards, such as abstaining from pre-marital sex and defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The policy made Christian groups on campus ineligible for student funding and other privileges, such as reserving campus space for meetings, hanging posters and promoting their group on the university's website, but a lower court ruled that it didn't violate the Constitution. David Cortman of the Alliance Defense Fund, who argued the case for the Christian groups, said the court's decision would ensure that SDSU would "remain a stronghold of censorship."
China: Police Raid House Church in Xinjiang, Detain 70 Christians
Police in Xinjiang, China raided a house church on Sunday and took more than 70 Christians into custody, China Aid reports. The house church, which has been meeting for nearly 20 years, was stormed by more than 10 authorities around 10 p.m.; police announced that the meeting was "unapproved" and "illegal" and ordered an immediate end to it. After forcing each Christian there to be photographed, officials took them to local police stations for questioning, not releasing some for two days. Police also confiscated the Christians' Bibles, hymnals, notebooks and other materials, but refused to provide a receipt for the confiscated items as required by law. The pastor and his wife who were hosting the meeting were called into the local police station Monday for additional questioning and were threatened by police, who ordered them to stop holding meetings in their home.
Uzbekistan Tightens Grip on Unregistered Churches With Series of Raids
Uzbekistan was ranked on the Open Doors 2012 persecution watch list as the world's No. 7 worst persecutor of Christians, and according to Mission Network News, it has been living up to its ranking so far this year. During the last few months, basic religious rights have been defied multiple times. Last month, police raided an unregistered church, confiscating church property and fining the pastor more than $3,000 -- a cost of 100 times the minimum monthly wage. Just a few days before the church raid, police raided a Christian woman's home, fining her 20 times the minimum monthly wage and handing over her Christian books to the regional Muslim Board. A few weeks later, a Baptist church was also raided and will be fined. The increasing number of raids and fines -- routinely used by authorities to confiscate religious material -- has many concerned. "It really does seem like Uzbekistan is beginning to step up its campaign against unregistered churches and groups of any kind," said Joel Griffin of the Slavic Gospel Association. He said it could be an indication of even worse persecution to come; already, numerous pastors have been arrested across central Asia.
Publication date: March 22, 2012