Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 28, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 28, 2008

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

  • China, N. Korea Reject UN Rights Abuse Charges
  • Turkey: Murder Case Aids Probe of ‘Deep State’ Criminals
  • China's Pastor 'Bike' Still in Trouble with Authorities
  • Kazakh, Kyrgz Religious Law Passes Parliament

China, N. Korea Reject UN Rights Abuse Charges

The Christian Post reports that a new document from the U.N. Committee Against Torture has incensed at least two countries it accuses of "systematic troture of political and criminal detainees." China and North Korea both issues statements crying foul, even saying that the independent experts who drafted the document "fabricated" their own information and "chose to ignore the substantial materials provided by the Chinese Government" in a statement by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qui Gang. The report documented "secret prisons," forced "re-education" through labor, torture, and and heckling human rights lawyers. The U.N. afterwards passed a resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses, which North Korea called an effort to "suppress the communist state."

Murder Case in Turkey Aids Probe of ‘Deep State’ Criminals

Compass Direct News reports that last week’s court hearing on the bloody murder of three Christians in Turkey’s southeastern city of Malatya paved the way for further investigations into the connection between the five defendants and shadowy elements of the Turkish state linked to criminal activities. The court prosecutor and plaintiff lawyers are pursuing proof that there are links between the murderers and Ergenekon, an ultranationalist cabal of retired generals, politicians, journalists and mafia members under investigation for conspiracy in recent murders. A sobering silence prevailed in the courtroom as those present watched video footage of defendants walking through the crime scene shortly after their arrest, describing how they attacked, stabbed and sliced the throats of the three martyrs. Suspected ringleader Emre Gunaydin described how Geske and Yukel, those murdered, offered prayer and cried "Messiah" as they were being stabbed.

China's Pastor 'Bike' Still in Trouble with Authorities

ASSIST News Service reports that Chinese house church leader Pastor “Bike” Zhang Mingxuan is in still trouble with Chinese authorities though he has been released from prison, apparently accused of giving out free silicon prayer bands that remind people to 'Bless China.' Zhang is accused of engaging in “illegal business operations” for distributing the wristbands, which were distributed to house church Christians and others as a gift during the Olympics as a reminder to pray for the country. ChinaAid says Pastor Bike was held by authorities from October 16 until October 27. During this time, his family was evicted from their homes, his sons were beaten, and his wife and her sister were also placed under arrest. Zhang told ChinaAid says he is currently in a perilous situation because authorities have already pressured seven major leaders of the Chinese House Church Alliance. He says these leaders are now under the authorities’ control.

Kazakh, Kyrgz Religious Law Passes Parliament

Baptist Press reports that new draft laws tightening government control over faith groups are a threat to religious freedom in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Kyrgyz parliament has passed a new draft requiring a religious organization to have at least 200 members before it can legally operate, a dramatic increase from 10 members previously required. The measure is awaiting the signature of Kyrgyzstan's president, Kurmanbek Bakiev, to take effect. "If the president signs the law as passed by the parliament, religious freedom will be eroded in Kyrgyzstan, which used to enjoy the reputation of being most democratic of the post-Soviet Central Asian republics," USCIRF chair Felice D. Gaer said in a written statement.  Kazakhstan has issued a similar draft law, which if passed would increase the minimum number of members of religious groups and decrease the number of groups.