Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Behind Smokescreen of 'Reforms,' Burma's War on Christians
- Police-Sponsored Gang Attacks Church in Central Vietnam
- Nigeria: Islamic Gunmen Open Fire at Church Vigil
- 'Personhood' Proposition Divides Mississippi Religious Leaders
Behind Smokescreen of 'Reforms,' Burma's War on Christians
While the West is lauding Burma for its reforms, the so-called democratic reforms are little more than a smokescreen behind which the country's war against the Christian Kachin people continues unabated, according to ASSIST News Service. Burma's regime is intent on advancing its interests as the country's geo-strategic value has risen in line with China's economic and military ascendancy. Some analysts speculate that China might be behind Burma's intent to ethnically cleanse Kachin State of its 90-percent-Christian population, and it has been reported that China is blocking the delivery of food, emergency shelter and medical aid for the 30,000 displaced Kachin residents. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has downplayed the situation, but the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma reports that more than 15,000 displaced Kachin are confined to a remote mountainous area on the Chinese border in "perilous" conditions. Meanwhile, Burma's Buddhist-supremacist regime continues to impose severe restrictions on Christianity in many towns in Kachin State, cracking down on the freedoms to hold Bible studies and prayer, as well as burning churches and killing, enslaving and brutalizing Christians.
Police-Sponsored Gang Attacks Church in Central Vietnam
A gang said to be following police orders attacked a Central Vietnam pastor's family with iron bars and wooden clubs, seriously injuring some, Compass Direct News reports. On the same Sunday that local authorities disrupted pastor Thien An's house church service, a gang of about 20 men attacked his family -- who locked Pastor Thien away in a secure room because they believed the gang wanted to kill him -- twice, at 1 p.m. and then again at 8:30 p.m. During both attacks, Pastor Thien called four levels of police and security officials for help, but his calls went unanswered; church members said "even a child" could figure out the connection between the public security police and the gang who attacked them. Police had visited his home the week before to "investigate" his house church, whose application for registration had been denied twice by authorities.
Nigeria: Islamic Gunmen Open Fire at Church Vigil
An armed gang opened fire at a church in Nigeria's Kaduna state Thursday night during an overnight vigil, killing two people and wounding 11, the Christian Post reports. According to the BBC, the attack was likely connected to a revenge initiative by two Muslim extremist groups, Hasus and Fulanis, fighting back after many were displaced earlier this year when Kaduna's first-ever Christian governor was elected. Kaduna State is divided among religious and political lines -- Christians occupy a large part of the south and Muslims are concentrated in the north, similar to the way Nigeria as a whole is divided -- and the situation has led to numerous violent clashes throughout the country.
'Personhood' Proposition Divides Mississippi Religious Leaders
People of faith in Mississippi are split on a "personhood" initiative that will be decided on Tuesday's ballot, the Mississippi Sun-Herald reports. Initiative 26, known as "The Personhood Amendment," would amend the state constitution to declare that life begins at the moment a human egg is fertilized and give any unborn child the same human and legal rights afforded to all citizens. The state's largest Christian group, the Mississippi Baptist Convention, supports the proposal, as does the Tupelo-based American Family Association. Members of the Baptist Convention's lobbying group have campaigned for the initiative, telling voters to vote "yes" for life because it's a moral and spiritual issue rather than a political one. However, some religious leaders are not supporting the initiative: The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi said that while he believed in the sanctity of life, he was concerned about "the unintended consequences of this legislation," and the General Conference of the United Methodist Church wrote that it had "never affirmed that abortion is always wrong."
Publication date: November 7, 2011