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Religion Today Summaries - March 20, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 20, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • China: New Law Feared to Exacerbate Persecution of Christians
  • Government Launches Prison LGBT Affirmative Action Plan
  • Utah Legislature Passes 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period
  • Christians Win Legal Challenge Brought by Muslims for Ownership of Indonesia Village


China: New Law Feared to Exacerbate Persecution of Christians

A newly unveiled draft law in China that would legalize the secret detention of suspects seen as a possible threat to national security would make Christian leaders and Christian human rights campaigners likely targets, Inspire Magazine reports. The Criminal Procedure Law, introduced with claims that it would "respect and safeguard human rights," would require police to notify the families of suspects who were detained, but would not obligate authorities to tell suspects' families where they are. "We fear the disappearances [of Christians] are set to continue," said Andy Dipper of Release International. "All too often Christian pastors and human rights activists are regarded as political dissidents and branded a threat to state security. Christians have been arrested, kept under surveillance and even tortured. Christian human rights lawyers have 'disappeared' in an attempt to intimidate and silence them. ... The more Christians and others campaign for basic human freedoms in China, the more the authorities arrest them."

Government Launches Prison LGBT Affirmative Action Plan

The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced this month a new plan to begin recruiting employees who will serve as lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) representatives for each prison facility, CBN News reports. The LGBT representatives will serve as members of each prison's affirmative action committee, and will devote 20 percent of their workday to "coordinat[ing] activities and programs designed to cultivate LGBT cultural awareness both within and outside the institution." Pat Nolan of Prison Fellowship Ministries said: "No sex is allowed in prison, so why on earth would the central office require that there be a person in every prison to promote the sexuality of one part of the population? It's truly bizarre and it makes no sense at all from a management-of-the-prison perspective. It seems to us this is just a political move; it has nothing to do with running better prisons."

Utah Legislature Passes 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period

The Utah legislature has approved a bill to lengthen the waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion from 24 to 72 hours, Baptist Press reports. The state Senate passed the bill with a 22-6 vote March 8, two days after the House of Representatives approved it, 59-11. Republican Rep. Steve Eliason, the bill's sponsor, said before the House vote: "An abortion cannot be undone. ... Why would we not want to afford a woman facing a life-changing decision 72 hours to consider ramifications that could last a lifetime?" If enacted, the legislation would tie Utah with South Dakota for the longest waiting period in the country, though a federal judge has blocked South Dakota's 72-hour waiting period from taking effect.

Christians Win Legal Challenge Brought by Muslims for Ownership of Indonesia Village

Christians in Horale, Indonesia have won a lengthy battle over the ownership of their village against neighboring Muslims who virtually razed it to the ground nearly four years ago, ASSIST News Service reports.  In May 2008, Horale was destroyed in an attack by a Muslim mob from the nearby village of Saleman, who burned down 120 houses, three churches, the village school and acres of crops, killed four Christians and injured 56. One week later, the Saleman Muslims brought a legal challenge over the ownership of Horale, claiming the land was part of their territory. A county-level court ruled in favor of the Saleman villagers and the Christians appealed to the provincial court, which overturned the verdict, prompting the Muslims to take the matter to the Supreme Court. "[The Supreme Court] has now ruled that the 10 square miles in question rightfully belongs to the Christian residents," according to Barnabas Fund, which has helped finance the reconstruction of Horale, assisting in rebuilding the damaged churches and providing other resources for the villagers.

Publication date: March 20, 2012