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Religion Today Summaries - March 29, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 29, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • PETA: Don't Call Animals 'It' in the Bible
  • Cuban Pastor Released, Prohibited from Preaching
  • Christian Dissident Receives 10-Year Sentence in China
  • U.N. Passes Religious Freedom Resolution


PETA: Don't Call Animals 'It' in the Bible

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) hopes that increased gender neutrality in Bible translations will lead to more animal-inclusive translations as well. CNN reports that the group is asking translators of the New International Version (NIV) to remove what it calls "speciesist" language and refer to animals as "he" or "she" instead of "it." “When the Bible moves toward inclusively in one area ... it wasn’t much of a stretch to suggest they move toward inclusively in this area," Bruce Friedrich, PETA's vice president for policy, told CNN. “God’s covenant is with humans and animals. God cares about animals," Friedrich said. "I would think that’s a rather unanimous opinion among biblical scholars today, where that might not have been the case 200 years ago.”

Cuban Pastor Released, Prohibited from Preaching

A Cuban pastor has been released from his six-and-a-half year prison sentence, but was warned not to preach a condition of his release. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that pastor Omar Gude Perez was released in February and not informed of the preaching limitation until March. Perez is a leader of a fast growing network of independent churches, and was convicted in a summary trial in July 2009 on trumped up charges of “falsification of documents." pounds over the course of 56 days. As punishment for sharing his faith with his fellow prisoners, he was moved to a cell with the most violent criminals who told him they had been given the green light by prison officials to attack him physically.  Pastor Gude Perez’s experience matches that of other prisoners of conscience, who consistently report being intentionally housed with violent inmates.

Christian Dissident Receives 10-Year Sentence in China

A Christian political dissident has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of "inciting subversion" against "state power" for several articles he wrote calling for political reform. The Christian Post reports that Liu Xianbin's sentence is harsh even by Chinese standards. Although Liu has been in prison for almost a year, his sentence coincides with recent calls on the Internet for China's people to incite revolution. “Like what happened in Egypt, Yemen and Libya, China’s totalitarian government recently has acted with increasingly blunt disregard for its own citizens’ basic rights,” said Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid Association. “This should further alarm the free world and vividly demonstrates how dire the consequences of appeasement and inaction are.” In February 2010, Liu had written that "protests are key to democratic movements [because] they are an inevitable stage of the evolution of a democratic society.”

U.N. Passes Religious Freedom Resolution

Religion News Service reports that Pakistan's blasphemy laws were again condemned by the U.N. Human Rights Council on March 24. U.S. officials applauded the council's approval of a resolution voicing concern on "emerging obstacles" to religious freedom and growing "religious intolerance, discrimination and violence." Annual U.N. resolutions sponsored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference against the "defamation of religions" have steadily lost support in recent years. Even Pakistan has taken a different approach this year, offering a resolution that would propose "dialogue" instead of condemning "defamation" of Islam. The independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has helped marshal opposition to the blasphemy resolutions in the U.N., said Thursday's vote should prompt Pakistan to rescind its blasphemy law.