Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Vietnamese Evangelists Severely Beaten in Police Custody
- Prophecy Expert: Scripture Foretells Europe's Rise as America Declines
- Mission Moment: Tortured For Peace in India?
- No Tax Dollars to Preserve Historic Missions, Group Insists
Vietnamese Evangelists Severely Beaten in Police Custody
Law enforcement authorities in Vietnam are subjecting house church leaders who confront injustice to relentless harassment, according to sources in Ho Chi Minh City. On March 2 at the Ho Chi Minh City home of Rev. Nguyen Hong Quang, an official in the Mennonite Church, Quang and evangelist Pham Ngoc Thach discovered two undercover security police spying on them. The policemen attacked Quang and several other Christians before retreating and calling in a number of officers from different groups. Armed with guns and electric cattle prods, they surrounded the Quang home and ordered the 12 Christian workers gathered there to remain inside the house. Police then tried to incite neighbors to attack the Christians. A church elder was taken to the police station, and when three young evangelists went to inquire about him, they were viciously beaten. Sources say that authorities had threatened the leaders of the Vietnam Evangelical Fellowship with harsh treatment during a meeting on December 12, 2003.
Prophecy Expert: Scripture Foretells Europe's Rise as America Declines
Chad Groening, Agape Press
A biblical scholar and best-selling author says it is quite apparent that Europe is gaining economic influence while the United States is losing its economic clout. Dr. Hal Lindsey has written about the end of the age for more than three decades. The author of The Late Great Planet Earth says while the U.S. has been the dominant power of the world since the end of World War II, the Bible clearly indicates that Europe has to return to dominance before the Second Coming. Lindsey says current world events appear to be moving in that direction, with the power once concentrated in the U.S. shifting toward Europe. "All indicators are that that's happening right now," he says. "The European Union is really gaining momentum. For instance, the euro is now more valuable than the U.S. dollar." "The United States has been the leader of the West and of the world since World War II, and yet there's absolutely nothing about a power like the United States even implied in prophecy in the days just shortly before the return of Christ," Lindsey says, "so that means something dramatic has to happen to the United States." But what that dramatic turn of events will be, whether America as a nation will be destroyed or will merely be dramatically reduced in power, the author says he does not know. "But I do know that that power has to shift to Europe," he says.
Mission Moment: Tortured For Peace in India?
Christian Aid Mission
Anti-conversion laws in India have been at the center of much anti-Christian activity in recent weeks. Radicals in the state of Orissa forcibly shaved the heads of seven Christian women last month in an attempt to coerce them to commit to Hinduism. Hindu politicians defended the action by stating that "the torturing of Christians was a part of the peace agreement," apparently trying to present their actions as a valiant defense of their Hindu culture and laws. Hindu violence against those embracing Christ's message in this state has a long history; one need only think of the martyrdom of Graham Staines and his two sons who were burned alive in 1999. Scores of anti-Christian incidents have taken place in Orissa and in other areas of central India. In Orissa, the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act has restricted Christian evangelization among India's unreached. The All-India Christian Council is now attempting to use this very legislation as a test of the State's impartiality and good faith to take action against those behind the forcible Hindu conversions. (www.ChristianAid.org)
No Tax Dollars to Preserve Historic Missions, Group Insists
Susan Jones, CNS News
A Senate panel plans to hear testimony Tuesday on a bill that would provide taxpayer dollars to restore California's 21 historic missions – all founded by the Catholic Church, starting in the late 1700s. While the bill has bipartisan support in Congress, it doesn't pass muster with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which says 19 of the 21 missions are still owned by the church and function as places of worship. "It violates the First Amendment to force taxpayers to pay for church repairs," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "I believe the people of California would voluntarily donate enough money to preserve these mission buildings without passing the collection plate to Uncle Sam," Lynn said in a press release. The Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands will consider the California Missions Preservation Act (S. 1306) on Tuesday. The bill would provide $10 million in federal matching grants to "restore and repair the California missions, and to preserve associated artworks and artifacts." The $10 million in federal grants would be matched by millions of dollars in private donations. The measure passed the House last fall with the support of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, among others.