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Religion Today Summaries - May 11, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 11, 2009

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Sudan Allows Remaining Aid Agencies to Expand Work
  • Church Leaders Remember Tiananmen Square in Declaration
  • Months after Hurricanes, Haiti Is Worse Than Ever
  • China Cited for Religious Rights Abuses

Sudan Allows Remaining Aid Agencies to Expand Work

Reuters reports that U.N. agencies and relief agencies will be allowed to expand their operations in Sudan to help compensate for the 13 aid agencies that were kicked out two months ago. About 4.7 million people rely on humanitarian aid in Darfur, and much of the country has been scarred by civil war between its largely Muslim north and mostly Christian south. The country is due to hold elections next year, which includes a U.S.-supported referendum on southern independence set for 2011. But the situation remains tenuous, as seen in the recent appointment of Ahmed Haroun from the cabinet to governor of a sensitive north-south border province that contains key oil fields. Haroun, like Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, is wanted by International Criminal Court on Darfur war crimes charges.

Church Leaders Remember Tiananmen Square in Declaration

The Christian Post reports that Christian leaders across China and America are calling for simultaneous forgiveness and truth as the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre approaches. “This was an open display to both God and man the viciousness and hypocrisy of a tyrannical political system, and the deepest sin and darkness of man,” the leaders stated. More than 80 signatories signed the groundbreaking declaration, including Bob Fu, president and found of ChinaAid; Zhang Boli, a pastor in Virginia who was a student activists during Tiananmen; and other house church leaders in China. The document urges a day of prayer to mark the June 4 incident in order "to pray for the salvation of lost souls in our home country, for social justice and for the future of our race."

Months after Hurricanes, Haiti Is Worse Than Ever

Mission News Network reports that conditions in Haiti have not improved since several major hurricanes hit the country last year. According to Eva DeHart of For Haiti With Love, conditions are worse than ever. "The roads are worse, getting around is worse, obstacles in trying to help are worse... It is worse than it was 40 years ago," she said. "The needs basically are the same." Government incompetence and red tape has only exacerbated the situation, preventing relief groups from bringing many supplies into the country. "People are starving to death, they haven't recouped the loss of their gardens and their animals and stuff from the hurricane, and it's just really, really bad." DeHart said the country cannot withstand another hit from hurricanes this year.

China Cited for Religious Rights Abuses

Compass Direct News reports that after the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) last week recommended China remain on the U.S. Department of State’s list of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said USCIRF’s report was “an attempt to smear China.” The commission acknowledged that “the freedom to participate in officially-sanctioned religious activity increased in many areas of the country,” but noted that abuses of members of unregistered religious groups had extended to a small handful of lawyers who dared to defend them. In at least 17 provinces, some 764 Protestant leaders and house church members were arrested last year, 35 of whom were sentenced to prison for a year or more, the report said. According to the state department, the total number of Protestant house church members and “underground” Catholics arrested last year may be in the thousands.