Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 28, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 28, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • U.S. 'Closely Monitoring' Activist Chen Guangcheng's Relatives in Chinese Custody
  • South Sudan Refugees Struggling Spiritually, Physically
  • Testimony to House Subcommittee Details Preborn Children's Pain
  • UNC Agrees to Recognize Christian Club as Religious Group


U.S. 'Closely Monitoring' Activist Chen Guangcheng's Relatives in Chinese Custody

State Department official Michael Posner said the United States was "closely monitoring" the situation of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng's friends and relatives who are now being held by Communist Chinese authorities, adding that the department would "raise our concerns" with Chinese officials, reports. Chen recently said he feared for the safety of his nephew, Chen Kegui, who is in police custody after defending himself from local officials who stormed his home and attacked his parents in their search for Chen Guangcheng. "We are closely monitoring what's happening with [Chen]'s immediate family, his brother, his nephew, the lawyers who've undertaken to represent his nephew, others who assisted him," Posner said. "We'll continue to have contact with Mr. Guangcheng and get his input." Posner also said there had been a "closing of space" for human rights activist in China over the past several years, which was concerning to the State Department. Chen faced years of imprisonment and abusive house arrest for fighting China's one-child policy and exposing more than 100,000 forced abortions in his area. After escaping from house arrest April 22, he sought refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing before traveling to the U.S. with his family May 19 to pursue a fellowship at New York University.

South Sudan Refugees Struggling Spiritually, Physically

The United Nations Refugee Agency warned Friday that a major humanitarian crisis is now underway in South Sudan, CBN News reports. At least 10,000 additional refugees crossed over the border from Sudan last week and another 50,000 are expected. More than 120,000 people in total have fled ongoing attacks by Sudan as it heads toward war with South Sudan, arriving at refugee camps in desperate need of food, shelter and water after walking for days in the heat. In the midst of the suffering, however, churches are gathering every Sunday morning in the refugee camps, often with only a tree to shelter them. Local pastors are working together to try to meet physical and spiritual needs of the thousands of refugees. "We need praying for faith in Sudan, and we need praying also for our communities," one pastor said. "With so many people, they are backsliding now because the situation is not good."

Testimony to House Subcommittee Details Preborn Children's Pain

On May 17, members of a U.S. House subcommittee heard graphic testimony on a bill prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy within the District of Columbia, explaining the extent to which preborn children feel the pain of being aborted, WORLD News Service reports. In D.C., abortions are currently allowed up until the moment of natural birth. H.R. 3803, heard by the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Judiciary Committee, would end those performed after 20 weeks. Three doctors, including a former abortionist, testified. Dr. Anthony Levatino, a gynecologist who estimates he performed more than 1,200 abortions before becoming pro-life, described in graphic terms abortions performed at the 22nd week. At that stage, a baby is about 10 inches long. Levatino said he would use a 13-inch-long stainless steel clamp with locking jaws to "pull hard" in order to dismember the baby and remove it -- piece by piece -- from the mother's body. "If you refuse to believe this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again," he said. H.R. 3803 has not yet been scheduled for a hearing before the full House Judiciary Committee.

UNC Agrees to Recognize Christian Club as Religious Group

The University of North Carolina-Greensboro has agreed to officially recognize a Christian student group and make clear that its policies permit campus religious groups to select members and leaders who share their beliefs, Charisma News reports. The university originally required the group to allow non-Christians to become members -- and even hold leadership positions -- in order to get official recognition on campus, and school officials had claimed the Christian group was not "religious" and therefore did not qualify for an exemption granted to other religious student groups. The Alliance Defense Fund filed a suit against the university, which has now been dismissed. "Saying that a Christian club isn't religious is not only absurd, it also means the government is playing theologian, which it is not constitutionally permitted to do," said ADF legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco. "The university has done the right thing in recognizing this club and clarifying that the university's religious policies permit religious and other belief-based student groups to be led by those who agree with their beliefs."

Publication date: May 28, 2012