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Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 8, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 8, 2010

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Clinton Bemoans U.S. Missions Mishap in Haiti
  • European Court Rules against Turkey's Religion ID
  • North Korea to Free American Missionary
  • Attacks on Christians in India's Karnataka Frequent, Furious

Clinton Bemoans U.S. Missions Mishap in Haiti

Religion News Service reports that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Feb. 3 said 10 U.S. missionaries' efforts to rescue Haitian children should have followed correct procedures for international adoptions. Clinton told reporters at the State Department that "it was unfortunate, whatever the motivation, that this group of Americans took matters into their own hands." The 10 Americans are now detained in Haiti. Their attempt to bring the children out of the devastation in Haiti to the Dominican Republic broke Haitian laws, which resulted in charges of kidnapping and criminal association being filed Thursday. If convicted, they could face five to 15 years in prison, according to the Associated Press. Clinton said her office is "engaged in discussions with the Haitian government" about their fate.

European Court Rules against Turkey's Religion ID

Compass Direct News reports that a European court on Feb. 2 ordered Turkey to remove the religious affiliation section from citizens' identification cards, calling the practice a violation of human rights. Religious minorities, in Turkey have faced discrimination because of the mandatory religion declaration on their identification cards, which was enforced until 2006. Since then, citizens are allowed to leave the "Religion" section of their IDs blank. The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights "is a good thing," said Zekai Tanyar, president of the Turkish Protestant Alliance, citing prejudices against Christian converts. "[Religion on the ID] can cost people their jobs," he said. "It has been known to affect whether they get a job or not, how people look at them, whether they are accepted for a post or an application of some sort. Therefore I think [the ruling] is a good and appropriate thing."

North Korea to Free American Missionary

The Associated Press reports that an American Christian who illegally entered North Korea on Christmas Day will be released, North Korea announced Friday. Robert Park was arrested after he crossed into North Korea from China carrying letters demanding the country close its concentration camps. State media in Pyongyang said Friday that North Korea "decided to leniently forgive and release" Park after "taking his admission and sincere repentance of his wrongdoings into consideration." Christian advocacy groups in the U.S. criticized the 28-year-old's decision to enter the country so brazenly, saying his actions could only make the plight for North Korean Christians worse. "We are ecstatic over this news. Very, very excited and happy. Overjoyed," the Rev. John Benson, pastor at the Life in Christ Community Church in Tucson who ordained Park as a missionary.

Attacks on Christians in India's Karnataka Frequent, Furious

Compass Direct News reports that Karnataka state recorded the highest number of anti-Christian attacks in India last year, and it is keeping pace this year. Christians in Karnataka are being attacked "at rapid regularity" and "with near impunity," said Dr. Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. Much of the violence occurs under the vigilante pretext of rounding up Christians supposedly involved in "forcible" or "fraudulent" conversion efforts. On Feb. 1 in Thagadur village, Kodagu district, Hindu extremists dragged 11 Christians - including four women - from their homes and colluded with police to arrest them on such false charges. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that all of the Christians were tortured at the Siddapur police station to pressure them to admit to the charges. Police denied torturing the Christians, but like many people in India easily confused by Hindu extremist propaganda, Inspector Ratan Singh of the Siddapur police station seemed to erroneously believe that laws against fraudulent conversion apply to any kind of proclamation of faith.