Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Saudi Islamic Leader: All Arabian Peninsula Churches 'Must Be Destroyed'
Saudi Arabia's grand mufti, the nation's highest Islamic authority, said no Christian churches should be allowed in the Arabian Peninsula -- which includes the nations of Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, CBN News reports. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, responding to a question by a delegation from Kuwait asking about a Kuwaiti parliamentarian's call to remove all churches there, said it was "necessary to destroy all the churches in the region." Abdullah cited an Islamic hadith quoting the prophet Muhammad, who said on his deathbed, "There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula," meaning only Islam could exist there; Abdullah later added in clarification: "Kuwait [is] a part of the Arabian Peninsula and therefore it is necessary to destroy all churches in it." Christianity is forbidden in Saudi Arabia and there are no churches there.
Laos: Christians Threatened to Recant or Leave
Christians in two provinces in Laos are facing an ultimatum: recant their faith or be expelled from their villages, ASSIST News Service reports. Khamla, a new believer and the only known Christian in the entire Viengphuka district of Luang Namtha Province, has been told to recant or leave his village, and 10 Christian families -- comprising some 65 believers -- in the Pakoo district of Luangprabang Province have been given until March 18 to comply with the same order. Other Christian families in other villages are at similar risk, and some who have already been expelled after refusing to recant are struggling to survive. Religious liberty is enshrined in the Laos constitution, but it is restricted by two laws forbidding anything that could cause social division. Virtually all religious activity must be approved by government officials, and Christians refusing to recant their faith are routinely punished by denial of services and ultimately expulsion from their village.
NASA Scientist Claims He Was Harassed, Demoted for Intelligent Design Beliefs
A Christian and former high-level computer systems administrator at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory says he was harassed and demoted by supervisors after expressing his belief in intelligent design to coworkers, his attorney told a judge this week, Fox News reports. David Coppedge, who filed a religious discrimination lawsuit in April 2010 after being demoted for allegedly "pushing religion" by loaning interested coworkers DVDs about intelligent design, says he was fired nine months later in retaliation for bringing the suit. JPL attorneys maintain that Coppedge was laid off as part of a staff reduction and that "the evidence will show that Mr. Coppedge was his own worst enemy because of his inability to listen" to a warning about "harassing coworkers with [his] religion," but Coppedge's lawyer, William Becker, argues his client was treated differently because of his religious views and that JPL's actions infringed on his religious freedom. The case is being heard in the Superior Court of Los Angeles.
Study: Liberals Most Likely to 'Unfriend' Over Political Disagreements
According to a new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, liberals are about twice as likely as conservatives or moderates to block, unfriend or hide someone on a social networking site, such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+, the Christian Post reports. Eighteen percent of all social networking site users have taken steps to block or hide someone because of political content -- 28 percent of liberals, 16 percent of conservatives and 14 percent of moderates. The most common reason liberals blocked, hid orunfriended someone was because that person posted something they disagreed with politically (16 percent of liberals, 8 percent of conservatives and 6 percent of moderates), or because someone posted too frequently about politics (14 percent of liberals, 9 percent of conservatives and 8 percent of moderates). Those who got blocked, unfriended or hidden were mostly likely (67 percent) to be a distant friend or acquaintance, and least likely to be a family member (18 percent).
Publication date: March 16, 2012