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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 30, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 30, 2009

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

  • Report: Myanmar's Minority Christians Badly Persecuted
  • Pope, Under Fire, Expresses Solidarity with Jews
  • China: Christian's Deathbed Plea Receives International Attention
  • Court: Christian School Can Expel Lesbian Students

Report: Myanmar’s Minority Christians Badly Persecuted

The Associated Press reports that Myanmar's minority populations face a hard road whether they stay or leave the country, according to a new report by the Human Rights Watch. "The Chin are unsafe in Burma [also known as Myanmar] and unprotected in India," the report said. The Chin, about 90 percent of which profess Christianity, have been forced to endure involuntary labor, torture, extrajudicial killings and religious persecution at the hands of the country's military junta. Those interviewed in the report also gave stories of forced service as unpaid porters for the army and unpaid work on infrastructure. Government officials have repeatedly denied that these situations occur. An estimated 100,000 have fled Myanmar into neighboring India, where they are not welcome. Many have been forced to return to Myanmar from India.

Pope, Under Fire, Expresses Solidarity with Jews

Seeking to quell an international uproar over his rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop, Pope Benedict XVI condemned the Nazi genocide of "millions of Jews" and expressed his "full and indisputable solidarity" with the Jewish people, Religion News Service reports. Benedict spoke Wednesday (Jan. 28) at the conclusion of his weekly general audience at the Vatican. His words were apparently a response to controversy over his decision last week to allow leaders of the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) back into the Catholic fold. One of the group's four leaders, Bishop Richard Williamson, recently told Swedish television that "historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler." On Tuesday (Jan. 27), Israel's highest religious authority reportedly broke off relations with the Vatican to protest Benedict's rehabilitation of Williamson.

China: Christian's Deathbed Plea Receives International Attention

Christian News Wire reports that Hua Zaichen, 91, whom authorities have repeatedly denied a final meeting with his imprisoned wife Shuang Shuying 79, was hospitalized on January 28. Sources report that officials are fearful they will be held accountable for his death because of the international attention to this case. Contacts report that the Beijing Municipal PSB was very angry at Pastor Hua Huiqi for releasing information to the media about their threats to him and their treatment of his mother in prison. They are also furious that Pastor Hua continually refuses to act as an informant for the PSB. Hua Zaichen and Shuang Shuying are Christians and have been persecuted for years by the Chinese government, because of their family's work in caring for the poor and oppressed and allowing persecuted Christians to stay in their home.

Court: Christian School Can Expel Lesbian Students

MSNBC reports that a California court has ruled in favor of the Lutheran school which expelled two female students for lesbian behavior in 2005. The girls' attorneys argued that the school should be compared to a business because it takes tuition, and therefore should not be allowed to discriminate. "The school's religious message is inextricably intertwined with its secular functions," wrote Justice Betty A. Richli in the appeals court opinion. "The whole purpose of sending one's child to a religious school is to ensure that he or she learns even secular subjects within a religious framework." Timothy J. Tracey, litigation counsel for the Center for Law & Religious Freedom, told the Los Angeles Times the ruling "preserves the right of Christian schools in California to make admission and discipline decisions consistent with their religious beliefs." The girls' attorney plans to continue the case to the state Supreme Court.