Religion Today Summaries - June 8, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 8, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Activists Call for Prisoners' Release on Tiananmen Anniversary
  • Uzbekistan: Church and Former Prisoners Threatened
  • Nepal Churches Growing Despite Tensions, Group Says
  • NC Church's Garden Provides Fresh Veggies to Food Banks

Activists Call for Prisoners' Release on Tiananmen Anniversary

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and other activists observed the Tiananmen Square anniversary by calling for the release of many still in prison. CSW specifically called for the release of Alimujiang Yimiti, serving a fifteen-year prison sentence, and missing Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who disappeared for the second time in April 2010. Both men faced detainment or trials that failed to follow Chinese and international law. CSW's Advocacy Director Tina Lambert said, "Whilst recognising the progress in human rights since the tragedy of Tiananmen Square twenty-one years ago, there are still significant concerns to be addressed before China meets internationally agreed standards... It is also imperative that we see the release of all prisoners of conscience including Alimujiang Yimiti and Gao Zhisheng, whose cases represent many other victims of ongoing repression."

Uzbekistan: Church and Former Prisoners Threatened

Forum 18 reports that Uzbekistan continues its religious crackdown, threatening three Christians previously imprisoned. Uzbek authorities warned the three members of Tashkent's Protestant Church of Christ that their church could lose its legal status as a registered church if members continue to protest the detainments. Two other Christians were forced to leave their homes after threats. "In one instance one of them was told by a police officer that they will always breathe down their necks, as long as they continue their Christian activity," Forum 18 was told. Uzbekistan's strict religious policies require all churches and mosques to obtain permits through onerous paperwork, often arbitrarily denying permits. Church members have been subject to raids, arrests, fines, jailings, book and equipment destructions and confiscations, as well as interruption of their worship service.

Nepal Churches Growing Despite Tensions, Group Says

Nepal's churches are not shutting down despite the political turmoil in the country, Worthy News reports. International Christian Concern (ICC) says that churches in Nepal are actually growing while the Maoist party continues strikes and protests. "Churches are growing by leaps and bounds everywhere," amid difficulties, said Build International Ministries (BIM) President Sandy Anderson, who spent the last 25 years working with Christians in Nepal. "We have had a heavy transition in Nepal, but despite the difficult situation the church continues to thrive." The church presence has grown from tiny numbers in the 1950s for more than 100,000 active members today, according to BIM statistics.

NC church's Garden Provides Fresh Veggies to Food Banks

One North Carolina congregation is doing more than a Thanksgiving food drive for local food banks. Volunteer gardeners at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in North Asheville, NC, have already harvested hundreds of leafy greens for Steadfast House women's shelter, according to the About 25 families from the church spend a few hours in the garden each week, donating 50 percent of the produce to food pantries or community kitchens. Summers are particularly tough for pantries in the area, said Joshua Stack, with MANNA FoodBank, which provides food to pantries in 16 counties around Asheville. "It seems to me that the enthusiasm is just from people who pass by," said Kathy Meacham, a church and garden member.