Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Poll: Most in U.S. See No Divine Sign in Disasters
- Pakistan Backs Away from Defamation of Religions at UN
- Thousands Displaced in Anti-Christian Violence in Ethiopia
- Two Remained Jailed after Chinese Raid on House Church
Poll: Most in U.S. See No Divine Sign in Disasters
Most Americans — except evangelicals — reject the idea that natural disasters are divine punishment, a test of faith or some other sign from God, according to a new poll. The poll released today by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, was conducted a week after a March 11 earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan. Nearly six in 10 evangelicals believe God can use natural disasters to send messages — nearly twice the number of Catholics (31 percent) or mainline Protestants (34 percent). The poll found that a majority (56 percent) of Americans believe God is in control of the earth, but the idea of God employing Mother Nature to dispense judgment (38 percent of all Americans) or God punishing entire nations for the sins of a few (29 percent) has less support.
Pakistan Backs Away from Defamation of Religions at UN
The Defamation of Religions resolution has been condemned by human rights groups year after year at the United Nations, but the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has never made any changes to the resolution until this year. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that, in a dramatic shift, Pakistan did not continue the “combating defamation of religions” campaign at the United Nations last week. Instead, Pakistan presented a new resolution much more consistent with international human rights law and norms, calling for “a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs." The shift in tone comes after years of heated debate on the issue at the UN, and more recently a shift in voting on the issue away from the OIC’s position.
Thousands Displaced in Anti-Christian Violence in Ethiopia
Somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000 Christians in Ethiopia have been forced to flee their homes since March 2, Fox News reports. At least one Christian has been killed in the violence that began after the Christian community of Asendabo was accused of desecrating the Koran. At least 130 people have been arrested in the string of attacks. "We believe there are elements of the [Islamist] Kawarja sect and other extremists who have been preaching religious intolerance in the area,” said Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. “In previous times, we have cracked down on Kawarja because they were involved in violence. Since then they have changed their tactics and they have been able to camouflage their activities through legal channels."
Two Remained Jailed after Chinese Raid on House Church
ChinaAid reports that two house church Christians remain in police custody in central China’s Shaanxi province. The two were arrested two weeks ago. On March 13, a dozen Christians were worshipping in the home of Weng Zemei in Ma’an Village when the local police chief Xia Huashan and two officers burst into the home and took all 12 worshippers into police custody. Ten were released the same evening, but Weng and Zhang Yongkuan remained in detention. Police also confiscated all the Bibles and other books and publications. ChinaAid condemns the police chief for his illegal actions in violating the lawful rights of Christians to meet together.