Religion Today Summaries - May 27, 2010

Religion Today Summaries - May 27, 2010

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

In today's edition:

  • Pastor Chooses Prison over Exile in China
  • Arizona Tax-Tuition Program Goes to Supreme Court
  • Vietnam: Murdered Christian's Widow Could Lose Children
  • Fund Shortage Threatens to Close L.A. Homeless Center


Pastor Chooses Prison over Exile in China

ChinaAid reports that government officials have given the pastor of a Chinese church the choice of exile or lengthy imprisonment. Wang Dao, pastor of Liangren Church, told his lawyers on Friday that he refuses to be exiled to abroad, and that he has prepared his heart to be imprisoned instead. Wang was placed on criminal detention on May 9 and the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB) authorities illegally refused to let his attorney meet with him until May 21. Wang told his two lawyers that he denied every accusation the PSB waged against him, including that of gathering a mass of people that disturbed the public order. He asserted that the charges were completely fabricated, and that his case was founded in nothing other than religious persecution. Wang Dao's attorneys reported that he appeared physically and spiritually sound. He asked the attorneys to tell the Liangren Church members that they must not stop gathering.

Arizona Tax-Tuition Program Goes to Supreme Court

Religion News Service reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of an Arizona program that provides state tax breaks for donations to private school scholarship programs. As part of the 13-year-old tax-tuition program, taxpayers receive a dollar-for-dollar reduction in state income taxes for their donations to not-for-profit school-tuition organizations. Last year, 91.5 percent of the $52 million collected in Arizona went to religious schools. Opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union and others, argue the program violates the First Amendment, which prohibits government establishment of religion. "Arizona's convoluted scheme is a backdoor way of subsidizing religious education," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund will defend Arizona's tax-tuition program.

Vietnam: Murdered Christian's Widow Could Lose Children

ASSIST News Service reports that the widow of a Vietnamese Christian who was tortured and killed may be in danger of losing her two children to the state. H'Nguen, who was widowed after her husband K'pa Lot was jailed for publicly expressing his faith, was brought to a police station herself on May 3. "At the police station the security forces placed a document in front of H'Nguen," said Scott Johnson, a spokesman for the Montagnard Foundation. The Foundation monitors the situation for Montagnard Christians like H'Nguen. Vietnamese police tried to coerce her to sign documents giving custody of her children, but released her after six hours when she still refused to sign. "The document was some sort of proof they wanted to show she agreed to her children being taken," Johnson said.

Fund Shortage Threatens to Close L.A. Homeless Center

The Christian Post reports that the slow economy still threatens to shutter non-profits struggling to deal with decreased funds and increased needs. The nation's largest rescue mission for homeless women and children, the Hope Gardens Family Center, needs $2.8 million by June 30 to remain open. If not, the center's roughly 130 residents will have to move elsewhere. "You can't cry wolf every time there is a problem, but this is a serious challenge," said the Rev. Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission, which operate Hope Gardens. "We are in danger of closing something down that we fought so hard to open and gave everything that we had, and that I had, to get it open." Bales, who has worked for ministries and non-profits for more than 30 years, says the situation is more dire than anything he's seen. The center's donations have dropped 21 percent even as it experienced a 45 percent increase in need.