Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Americans Still Giving Despite Economic Downturn
- Kazakhstan: Restrictive Religion Law Still in Parliament
- North Korea Hits Back for Gospel-Bearing Balloons
- CIA Lied about Shoot-Down of Missionary Plane
Americans Still Giving Despite Economic Downturn
The Associated Press reports that Americans' generosity doesn't seem tied to how the economy is managing, a new World Vision study conducted by Harris Interactive. On the contrary, some are actually giving back more than previous years. The study found that seven in 10 adults plan to spend less money on holiday presents this year, but about half say they are more likely to give a charitable gift than a traditional present such as clothing or an electronic toy. "At a time when people have things and they know that other people don't, Americans' generosity wins out," said Justin Greeves, senior vice president of Harris Interactive, which regularly polls Americans about their charitable giving. World Vision hopes this perspective will motivate Americans to purchase items such as chickens and bicycles from their holiday gift catalogue to donate to poverty-stricken families worldwide.
Kazakhstan: Restrictive Religion Law Still in Parliament
Mission News Network reports that new additions to a pending religion law in Kazakhstan will further restrict Christian freedom if passed. The parliament has refused to release the exact wording of law, but amendments include a mandatory fine of 50 times the minimum monthly salary for those found guilty of worshipping, building or opening places of worship, as well as publication or distribution of religious literature without government permission. Christians would be forbidden from not only sharing but even expressing their faith outside designated places of worship. According to Andele Konyndyk with Voice of the Martyrs Canada, the draft's vague wording contributes to "fear as to how the government might use this to decrease Christian activity."
North Korea Hits Back for Gospel-Bearing Balloons
The Christian Science Monitor reports that North Korea's military will "strictly restrict and cut off" traffic across the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, apparently retaliating for balloons that landed while carrying leaflets which denounced the regime and its prison system in addition to Gospel tracts. The balloons were launched by activists in South Korea, whose government refused to stop them. "It's not illegal in terms of South Korean law," says Ha Tae Keung, president of Open Radio for North Korea. "North Korea regards the balloons as South Korea's effort to force regime change in North Korea," says Paik Hak Soon, senior fellow at the Sejong Institute in South Korea.
CIA Lied about Shoot-Down of Missionary Plane
The Los Angeles Times reports that several CIA officials covered up agency negligence in Peru in the 2001 shoot-down of a missionary plan mistaken for an aircraft involved in a drug trade. According to an internal investigation and report, officials lied to Congress and withheld crucial information from investigators and the Bush administration. Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter were killed and three others were injured when a Peruvian warplane associated with the CIA shot it down, violating rules of engagement which would have avoided fatalities. Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, called the findings a "dark stain" on the CIA, as other findings showed the "continuous efforts to cover the matter up and potentially block criminal investigation."