Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Chick-fil-A Supporters Line Up for Appreciation Day
- Government Attacking Religious Freedom in 'Nearly Half the World's Countries'
- Netanyahu: Time Running Out to Stop Iran
- Official Beats Christian Pastor in Buddhist Bhutan
Chick-fil-A Supporters Line Up for Appreciation Day
People across the country flocked to Chick-fil-A Wednesday in support of remarks by the restaurant's CEO backing traditional marriage, ABC News reports. Many of the chain's stores reported record crowds, and the local outlet in Augusta, Ga., ran out of food and had to close early. At one Atlanta location, the line for the drive-thru looped twice around the building and out onto the street, and in Crystal City, Va., a steady line went down the block for three hours. Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy appeared at a Fayetteville, N.C., location to thank customers for eating there. More than 630,000 supporters had signed up to celebrate Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee created to counter a boycott launched by gay-rights activists after Cathy said his company supported the biblical definition of marriage. On Friday, August 3, supporters of gay marriage are planning a "kiss-in" at Chick-fil-As across the country, encouraging gays and lesbians to share a public display of affection in the middle of the restaurants.
Government Attacking Religious Freedom in 'Nearly Half the World's Countries'
Attacks on Christians are rising in Arab Spring countries, anti-Semitism is growing around the globe, and people worldwide are paying with their lives for their religious beliefs, according to the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report, released this week at the State Department, CNSNews.com reports. "[In] nearly half of the world's countries, governments either abuse religious minorities or did not intervene in cases of societal abuse," said Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. In all eight countries named last August as "countries of particular concern" -- Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan -- religious freedom deteriorated during the last year, according to the report. In North Korea, "genuine religious freedom does not exist," Cook said, while religious freedom in Iran "has deteriorated from an already horrible situation." Other countries, especially in the Muslim world, are "increasingly using blasphemy and apostasy and dissent laws to curb religious freedom," she said.
Netanyahu: Time Running Out to Stop Iran
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday that time was running out for the international community to halt Iran's nuclear program by peaceful means, bringing back to the forefront of speculation the question of whether Israel will unilaterally strike against Iran's nuclear sites in the coming months, The Guardian reports. He explained: "However forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them. Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program." Panetta, the fourth senior U.S. official to visit Israel in recent weeks, told the prime minister: "We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, period. We will not allow them to develop a nuclear weapon, and we will exert all options in the effort to ensure that that does not happen."
Official Beats Christian Pastor in Buddhist Bhutan
A government official on Tuesday beat and threatened to kill a Christian pastor in the tiny Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, located between India and China, the Christian Post reports. Pema Wangda, a sub-divisional officer, hit pastor Pema Sherpa on his forehead and chest, and also took out a local sword and threatened to kill him. Sherpa was among four pastors the official had summoned to ask them not to conduct worship services in their homes. Wangda attacked Sherpa after the three others had left. "[Wangda] said he would send the pastor to jail, and called police," a friend of Sherpa's said. "The pastor said he was willing to go to jail, but police eventually didn't detain him." Of the just-under 700,000 people in Bhutan, around 75 percent are Buddhist and a little over 20 percent are Hindu. Christians, who are yet to be recognized legally in the country, are estimated to number around 12,000. The government does not allow Christians to construct church buildings, though Christians are generally allowed to meet within their homes.
Publication date: August 3, 2012