Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Evangelistic Festival Expected to Draw 500,000 in Haiti
- UN Religious Defamation Resolution Losing Ground
- Multi-Site Church Cleared to Leave PC(USA)
- UK Government Pledges to Support UN Burma Inquiry
Evangelistic Festival Expected to Draw 500,000 in Haiti
Christian Today reports that more than 500,000 people are expected to attend the first major Christian festival in Haiti since the Jan. 12 earthquake. The free event, "Hope Alive!", will take place in Port-au-Prince, where many buildings still lay in rubble. The venue by the presidential palace sits close to a tent city of 50,000 people. "Our whole purpose in going down there is to bless the people," said evangelist Ben Cerullo. "They've been through so much. We want to entertain them, take their minds off of it, [and] bring in some music groups." He continued, "We believe that God will shift something while we're there. To shift a nation that is known to be one of the most demonically controlled in the world to being a nation that serves the Lord." More than 212,000 people died in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake and the following aftershocks. An estimated three million people were affected by the disaster.
UN Religious Defamation Resolution Losing Ground
Mission News Network reports that the Defamation of Religions Resolution has been approved again by the United Nations Human Rights Council, but the non-binding motion is losing steam. "For the past three years, this resolution has been losing support," said Open Doors Advocacy Director Lindsay Vessey. "It's pretty exciting this year--a number of countries changed their votes. It looks like it might take another year or so to completely defeat the resolution." The bill ostensibly protects religions from blasphemy and defamation, but only mentions Islam as a protected religion. Open Doors notes that current blasphemy laws is countries such as Pakistan have landed many Christians in prison or worse. This year, a coalition of 17 mostly-Western nations, including the United States and the Netherlands, opposed the resolution, but 20 states, including China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, voted in favor. Eight states abstained.
Multi-Site Church Cleared to Leave PC(USA)
The Christian Post reports that a multi-site church in Pennsylvania has peacefully left its parent denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), for a more conservative denomination. First Presbyterian Church will leave the Beaver-Butler Presbytery to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, paying the PC(USA) $133,700 to take property and assets through the move. "We praise God for His blessings and guidance through this process, and ask Him to enable us to be even more faithful in ministry, service, and maturity as we move forward as part of the EPC," the church states on its website. The church voted to leave the PC(USA) in February, and worked for more than a month with presbytery officials to ease the process. "Our elders have consistently attempted to maintain a posture of forward-thinking throughout this process, knowing that many exiting churches carry scars and back-ward ways of thinking," said Senior Pastor Jeff Arnold.
UK Government Pledges to Support UN Burma Inquiry
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that the British Government has decided to support the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes perpetrated by the Burmese regime. Britain's Ambassador to the United Nations, Mark Lyell Grant, said March 24 that Britain would support the referral of a case to the International Criminal Court (ICC). He urged that the UN Security Council carefully gather support for the inquiry. Earlier this month, CSW released fresh evidence of the regime's gross violations of human rights in eastern Burma following a fact-finding visit to the Thailand-Burma border. CSW's East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said, "It is vital that in the run-up to the regime's fake elections, its crimes against humanity and the prevailing culture of impunity in Burma are addressed by the United Nations, and action is taken to end the regime's campaign of rape, forced labor, torture, destruction, killing and terror."