Religion Today Summaries - June 21, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 21, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • NBC Apologizes for Cutting 'Under God' from Pledge
  • Pakistan Court Acquits Suspects of Christian Massacre
  • Oregon Strips Faith-Healing Parents of Legal Defenses
  • China Urged to Release Blind Activist


NBC Apologizes for Cutting 'Under God' from Pledge

NBC broadcasters and executives have been trying to backpedal since the network aired a segment on Sunday that cut "under God, indivisible" from the Pledge of Allegiance. According to CNN, the omission happened in a video montage during the U.S. Open golf coverage and incited almost instant criticism. NBC's Dan Hicks apologized for the edit on air just three hours after it happened. "It was not done to upset anyone and we'd like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it," he said. Chris McCloskey, vice president for NBCUniversal Sports and Olympics, addressed the incident again in a statement Monday. "We are aware of the distress this has caused many of our viewers and are taking the issue very seriously... This was a bad decision."

Pakistan Court Acquits Suspects of Christian Massacre

Worthy News reports that a Pakistani court last week acquitted 70 Muslims suspected of killing Christians in one of the country's worst sectarian clashes. At least eight Christians burned to death in August 2009 in what became known as the "Gojra Massacre," named after the town where the killings took place. Two others also died in separate attacks on Gojra's Christian colony by Muslim extremists, and churches and homes were reportedly set on fire. Despite the atrocities, the 70 suspects were acquitted on June 16. The anti-terrorism court cited the absence of Christian witnesses in the courtroom and a lack of evidence. Christians, however, say they have been intimidated from coming forward. Many believers fled the area. "It is apparent that justice was denied. The Church was vigilant in pursuing the case but Christians were afraid to follow up," explained Catholic priest Yaqub Yousaf of the Sacred Heart Church in Gojra.

Oregon Strips Faith-Healing Parents of Legal Defenses

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has signed a new law that removes the remnants of Oregon's legal protection for parents who rely solely on faith healing for their children. Religion News Service reports that Kitzhaber signed the bill on June 9. Just two days prior, jurors found Timothy and Rebecca Wyland guilty of criminal mistreatment for not seeking medical treatment for a massive growth that left their infant daughter nearly blind. The Wylands are members of the Followers of Christ, an Oregon City church with a long history of children dying from treatable medical conditions. The bill, which passed with overwhelming support in the legislature, eliminates spiritual treatment as a defense against all homicide charges, and subjects parents to mandatory sentencing if convicted.

China Urged to Release Blind Activist

Christian Solidarity Worldwide has renewing its call for an end to the persecution of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng. The demand follows a letter from his wife, Yuan Weijing, detailing the horrific beatings and the poor medical condition of Chen’s family, who are facing severe conditions under house arrest. In February this year, a video was released showing the severe conditions in which the Chen family was kept in their home in Shandong province, including surveillance cameras watching their house and mobile phone jamming equipment preventing the family communicating with the outside world. Following the video’s release, the family was reportedly beaten up by police and plain-clothed thugs. Despite international attention, his situation has deteriorated. He has been under severe house arrest since September 2010 when he was released from prison.