Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Sudan's Aerial Bombing Aims at Churches in Nuba Mountains
After Khartoum denied that it had bombed civilians earlier this month, Sudanese aerial strikes last week were aimed at church buildings and schools in Kauda, South Kordofan state, Compass Direct News reports. Planes dropped bombs on March 22 and 23, destroying some houses and cattle near the church buildings and schools but causing no casualties. Humanitarian agencies consider the Islamic government's targeting of civilians in the Nuba Mountains -- which has a large Christian population -- an "ethnic cleansing" against non-Arab people in the multi-ethnic state, with the added incentive of ridding the area of Christians, a humanitarian aid worker said. Churches in the Nuba Mountains are holding worship services early in the mornings and late in the evenings to avoid aerial bombardments; most of the bombings take place during daytime when visibility is better for pilots. Khartoum continues to actively recruit more security personnel and send them to South Kordofan to help kill or arrest Nuba civilians, including Christians.
Tennessee Legislators Push Bill to Protect Religious Campus Groups
State lawmakers in Tennessee are considering a bill that would protect faith-based organizations on state college campuses from nondiscrimination policies that many say actually discriminate against the groups themselves, the Christian Post reports. A state Senate committee last week unanimously approved SB 3597, which would prevent colleges from denying religious groups official campus recognition on the basis of their religious speech and give such organizations the freedom to operate within their "particular religious mission" in selecting members and student leaders. The bill comes at a time when several faith-based groups at Vanderbilt University are clashing with administrators over the university's nondiscrimination policy -- which could force Christian organizations to allow non-Christians as members or leaders if the groups want to be officially recognized by the school.
Christian Workers in Arab Gulf Warned About Saudi Cleric's Call to 'Destroy Churches'
A call by Saudi Arabia's top Islamic authority for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula has prompted an organization representing Filipino workers in the region to take caution, CNSNews.com reports. More than two million Filipinos live and work in the Middle East -- 1.2 million in Saudi Arabia alone -- and the majority of them are Christians or Catholics. John Leonard Monterona of the Migrante-Middle East organization urged non-Muslim Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia to be careful not to violate government restrictions in order to avoid being imprisoned. Churches are illegal in Saudi Arabia, but other countries in the Arabian Peninsula allow a limited number of non-Islamic places of worship, mostly for foreign Christians. Monterona said the Saudi government and religious leaders were "well aware that there are religious activities being held discreetly in homes and apartments by non-Muslims" and that a number of Filipinos and other foreign workers had already been apprehended by the Saudi religious police for illegal religious activity.
Poll: Mississippi Most Religious State, Vermont and N.H. Least
According to a Gallup survey about religion and church attendance, Mississippi is the most religious U.S. state and Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious, Baptist Press reports. The poll asked respondents if religion was important part of their daily life and if they attended religious services every week or almost every week, and found that southern states were the most religious while the northeast and northwest were the least so. Mississippi led the way with 59 percent of its citizens being labeled very religious, followed by Utah (57 percent) and Alabama (56 percent). Vermont and New Hampshire each had only 23 percent of respondents labeled as very religious. The pattern of religiosity, the survey said, has "remained stable in recent years." Nationwide, 40 percent of Americans are considered "very religious."
Publication date: April 2, 2012