Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- US Panel Names 13 Nations for Violating Religious Freedoms
- China Moves Uyghur Christian Prisoner, Allows Family Visit
- Oklahoma Demands Full Disclosure in Abortion Law
- New Figures Show Catholic Growth Is Outside Europe
US Panel Names 13 Nations for Violating Religious Freedoms
Voice of America reports that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom cited 13 countries in its annual report for severe violations of religious freedom. Thursday's report named Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam as human rights hot spots. "The annual report documents how, in many countries, religious communities continue to experience severe persecution," said Leonard Leo, chairman of the commission. "Notably, we have found that in majority-Muslim countries, it is oftentimes those governments that repress the free practice of Islam the most." The panel also recommended Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba and Egypt be closely monitored for increasing violations.
China Moves Uyghur Christian Prisoner, Allows Family Visit
Compass Direct News reports that authorities in Xinjiang Province recently moved Uyghur Christian Alimjan Yimit from a prison in Kashgar to a prison in the provincial capital Urumqi. They also allowed the first visit from family members since his arrest in January 2008, according to Compass sources. Alimjan (Alimujiang Yimiti in Chinese) was noticeably thinner but in good spirits, the family told friends after their brief visit to him in Xinjiang No. 3 prison on April 20, one source told Compass. They were allowed only 15 minutes to speak with Alimjan via telephone through a glass barrier, the source said. But Alimjan's lawyers, Li Baiguang and Liu Peifu, were prohibited from meeting with him, despite gaining permission from the Xinjiang Bureau of Prison Management. Officials have now granted Alimjan's wife Gulnur (Chinese spelling Gulinuer) and other close family members permission to visit him once a month. Alimjan and Gulnur pastored a Uyghur ethnic house church in Xinjiang prior to his arrest in January 2008.
Oklahoma Demands Full Disclosure in Abortion Law
Baptist Press reports that the Oklahoma legislature finished April 27 overriding vetoes of two pro-life bills, only four days after Gov. Brad Henry had rejected them. The Senate voted 36-12 on both measures. One of the bills requires an ultrasound before an abortion, and the other protects a doctor from a "wrongful birth" lawsuit for failing to persuade the mother to have an abortion. The latter is designed to protect unborn babies who are diagnosed with disabilities. "I am proud that the House moved quickly in support of the sanctity of life by overriding the veto of these important pieces of pro-life legislation. This is clearly not a partisan issue," House Speaker Chris Benge, a Republican, said in a statement. "We must move to stop the degradation of human life seen in recent years and stand up for those who cannot defend themselves."
New Figures Show Catholic Growth Is Outside Europe
Religion News Service reports that the world's Catholic population grew 11.55 percent between 2000 and 2008, from 1.045 billion 1.166 billion. That was slightly faster than the world's overall population growth of 10.77 percent, according to new statistics published by the Vatican. The 2010 edition of the Vatican's statistical yearbook shows that while the number of Catholics in Europe grew by 1.17 percent, in Africa growth was 33.02 percent, 15.6 percent in Asia and 10.9 percent in the Americas. Catholics in Europe make up a quarter of all Catholics while Catholics in the Americas account for nearly half of the world's total. The number of Catholic bishops grew from 4,541 to 5,002, while the number of nuns fell from 801,000 to 739,000.