Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
De-Baptism Gains a Following in Britain
Time magazine reports that "certificates of de-baptism" from the London-based National Secular Society (NSS) are gaining in popularity. Former church members who were baptized as infants have downloaded the mock certificate from the NSS Web site to "reject baptism's creeds and other such superstitions," and distance themselves from the churches they were born into. More than 100,000 people have downloaded the document since it went online five years ago, and traffic has picked up to about 1,000 downloads per week. "Churches have become so reactionary, so politically active that people actually want to make a protest against them now," Terry Sanderson, the society's president, said. "They're not just indifferent anymore. They're actively hostile." The group is now following up with certificates for purchase on parchment, to further help people emphasize their public break with the church.
N.Y. Archbishop Dolan Pledges Orthodoxy at Installation
Catholic News Service reports that New York Archbishop Timothy J. Dolan officially assumed his new role yesterday (April 15). The former archbishop of Milwaukee noted that his new position "may take some getting used to" because of its prominence, but he promised not to compromise his stances despite the limelight. "Bishops are not into politics; we're into principles," he said at Cathedral High School in the New York Catholic Center, pledging to stand for traditional marriage. "I’ve often said our goal is to change our lives to be in conformity with Jesus and his church, not to change the teachings of Jesus and the church to be in conformity with what we want," he told reporters. Dolan noted that his gregarious and personal style varies from his predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan, but the "substance" won't change.
Uzbekistan: Muslim Extremism Could Account for Religious Crackdown
Mission News Network (MNN) reports that "practically anyone affiliated with any type of religious movement" may be targeted by the government in a recent crackdown in Uzbekistan. The country has recently seen a spike in militant Islam, and is using the threat as a pretense against all religious groups. "The government basically is concerned about extremism in any way, and they're concerned about Muslim extremism. To be able to justify a crackdown on that, then they have to crack down on everybody, whether they're extremist or not," said Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association. "I think that probably is what the government's mindset is. They don't want Islamic radicalism to get out of hand, but in cracking down on that, they basically feel like they have to keep their thumb on everything." Christians have frequently been singled out in the country, and religious freedom is severely restricted.
China Debuts First Human Rights Action Plan; Rights Groups Skeptical
The Christian Post reports that human rights groups aren't hopeful that China's first ever human rights action plan will bring positive changes. The plan, released Monday, designates concrete goals for avoiding mistreatment of minorities and and abuse of detainees. But even the country's government acknowledged these goals are not top priority. “While respecting the universal principles of human rights, the Chinese government, in the light of the basic realities of China, gives priority to the protection of the people’s rights to subsistence and development,” reads the introduction to the document released by the official Xinhua News Agency. Amnesty International's Roseann Rife notes the plan deemphasizes "civil and political rights," leaving China the excuse of "anti-government" and "subversive" charges for detainees.