January 09, 2017
The South China Morning Post reports that the “state secrets” that Pastor Li Guozhi (also known as Yang Hua) allegedly “leaked” actually had to do with a crackdown planned against his own church by local authorities. [MORE]
January 06, 2017
Guizhou Province, China—House church pastor Yang Hua, detained over a year ago, has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for “divulging state secrets.” His lawyers say he suffered torture during his previous prison time.
Rome—An official Vatican document released for a “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” calls for co-celebration with Protestants of this year’s 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses, encouraging Catholics “to hear Luther’s challenge for the Church of today, recognising him as a ‘witness to the gospel.'” [MORE]
January 02, 2017
Pastor Andrew Brunson has been denied an appeal of his imprisonment in Turkey for alleged “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” North Carolina native Brunson, who has been in ministry in Turkey for 23 years, was detained in October and imprisoned Dec 9. Turkey has been widely criticized for arbitrarily linking undesirables to Muslim activist Fethullah Gülen (blamed for a failed coup in Turkey in summer 2016) without evidence.
The American Center for Law and Justice noted that it is still possible to appeal to a higher court, but expressed uncertainty regarding the result.
December 23, 2016
Two dozen students at the Antonio Provolo Institute in Argentina’s Mendoza province have come forward regarding abuse they suffered at the hands of priests Nicola Corradi and Horacio Corbacho as well as three other men. The accused were arrested in November. [MORE]
December 21, 2016
A Christian pastor who served in Turkey for 23 years was detained in October, and sent to Sakran Prison December 9. North Carolina native Andrew Brunson, pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church, was imprisoned on allegations that he is tied to the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen is a Muslim activist and influential cleric whom Turkish authorities blame for a July 15 coup attempt. Difficulties for Christian pastors in Turkey predates that failed coup, however; some 100 pastors have been forced out of the country in the past four years.
December 17, 2016
R. C. Sproul Jr. has been charged after an alleged driving under the influence incident in Indiana on November 29. He is facing charges on four counts, including operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a passenger under 18, and operating a vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of .15 or more. [MORE]
December 10, 2016
The Saturday ceremony was intended to ordain founder Akan Weeks as a bishop. Governor Udom Emmanuel was on hand. Both Weeks and Emmanuel survived the collapse.
December 07, 2016
Nepal adopted a new constitution in 2015, which outlawed anything perceived as evangelism. While this case may not have been considered sufficiently compelling as an example of proselytization, the religious freedom of Christians is under fundamental and widespread threat across the nation. Sources say that Christian orphanages and boarding schools may not have Christian booklets, pray with children, or allow them to attend Bible clubs.
November 28, 2016
The Christian Church is growing rapidly in Iran, but government suppression means the movement is underground. Reports are that converts are predominantly young people. A recent ceremony saw the baptism of some 200 Iranians and Afghans in one service.
Even as the Christian population in nearby Iraq has been decimated under persecution by militant Islamic groups, Iran’s evangelical movement is vibrant. Some experts estimate that Christians in Iran will top 7 million by 2020—10% of the country’s population.
November 23, 2016
The Patriarch added that while the Church does not condemn those “who have different sexual preferences,” and they should not be discriminated against or punished, “the Church can never redefine good and evil,” and “under no circumstances” should such different preferences “be accepted as a social norm.” Rather, “this new trend poses a significant threat to the existence of the human race.” The jailing of pastors who call same-sex marriage sin “is very reminiscent of what was happening under Soviet totalitarianism.” [MORE]
November 18, 2016
A new study shows that growing churches tend to have a higher view of the Bible and more conservative theology than those in decline. Growing churches also tend toward innovation in the service, such as contemporary worship.
Declining churches tend to think of their mission as “pursuit of social justice,” and only 50% of their pastors consider it important to call upon non-Christians to become Christians.
November 14, 2016
Vatican City—Four Roman Catholic cardinals are challenging Pope Francis over the pastoral care of divorced and remarried parishioners. The occasion is Francis’ April treatise Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), which calls for a case-by-case evaluation by a priest or bishop whether to commune remarried worshipers.
The cardinals’ document argues that the Church’s law forbids communion unless the partners forgo sexual intimacy.
November 11, 2016
NORTH KOREA—Despite a handful of places of worship in Pyongyang serving as “showcases on display for foreign tourists,” the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights reports that there is no religious freedom in country. Just 23% of worshipers detained survive religious persecution. About 80% of religious detainees disappear.
Most North Korean defectors who are religious believers identify as Protestant or Roman Catholic, although 10% identify as Buddhist.
November 01, 2016
Pope Francis says the current ban on Catholic women entering the priesthood is “forever.” In a news conference with reporters, Francis upheld the 1994 declaration by Pope John Paul which essentially closed the door on female priesthood.
Although the present pope is widely regarded as reform-minded, the statement indicates that for him too Catholic teaching and practice retain non-negotiable elements.