WASHINGTON — With over 11,000 ticketed guests gathered on the South Lawn, Pope Francis made his first-ever visit to the White House Wednesday morning, and called on the world to defend religious liberties and take better care of the environment before going to the Oval Office for a private meeting with President Barack Obama.
The leader of the Catholic Church was welcomed to the White House by the president and first lady Michelle Obama. After the playing of the Holy See's national anthem, the U.S. national anthem, and a short speech by Obama, the pope made his first direct address to the American people and challenged all Americans to be "vigilant" defenders of religious liberty.
"Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination," the pontiff asserted. "With countless other people of goodwill, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and the right to religious liberty." more >>
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini, has met with over 100 Parliamentarians from nearly 50 countries to urge them to sign a letter calling for her husband's release. This week marks Abedini's third anniversary in prison, as well as the 70th session of the General Assembly of the U.N. in New York, which Iran's President Hassan Rouhani will attend.
"We are alarmed by ongoing reports of violations of this fundamental freedom for religious minorities, including Christians and the Bahá'ís. We respectfully ask you to ensure that all individuals in Iran, be they Muslim, Christian, Bahá'í, Atheist, Zoroastrian, Jew or from another faith, can fully enjoy freedom of religion or belief without fear of violence or discrimination," states the letter, which was signed by 67 Parliamentarians following Abedini's speech.
"We are particularly concerned about Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been jailed for nearly three years. We understand he has been held in intolerable conditions for merely peacefully exercising his faith in private homes. We specifically request the release of Mr. Abedini, as well as other Christians," it continues. more >>
A devoted Christian from the village of Huey in Savannakhet province, Laos, has died after his release from prison, where authorities denied him vital diabetes medication and watched him visibly deteriorate without helping. Human rights groups have said that the man, Tiang Kwentianthong, was arrested nine months ago after he was caught praying for a sick woman.
"Mr. Tiang Kwentianthong, a Christian believer of Huey village in Atsaphangthong district of Savannakhet province ... died on Sept. 17 from his diabetic condition that had become very severe," Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom said in a statement, as reported by BosNewsLife.
The 61-year-old Tiang, who needed but was denied his diabetes medication on a regular basis, "continued to suffer severe diabetes. During his imprisonment ... he requested permission to be treated for his worsening diabetic condition but the prison officials denied his request," the group added. more >>
A mob of radicals in the capital city of Pakistan torched the home of a Christian family and attempted to burn them alive by locking them inside before setting it on fire, a Christian aid group is reporting.
Earlier this month, a large group of radicals in Islamabad arrived at the home of 38-year-old Christian Boota Masih and began banging on the door, shouting for him to come outside.
Masih told the British Pakistani Christian Association that when he answered the door, the mob's leader demanded that he and his family either give up their home, leaving all of their belongings behind, or suffer the consequences. more >>
The head of a Christian humanitarian organization reports that the Islamic State terrorist organization in has turned captured church buildings into torture chambers that are being used to coerce Iraqi Christians into renouncing Christ and converting to IS' brand of radical Islam.
Christian Freedom International, a Virginia-based aid organization that provides necessities to Christians living in nations that are the most hostile toward Christianity, has released a new video that reveals alarming statistics showing the number of Christians throughout the world who are being persecuted or killed for their faith.
The video, released ahead of the organization's day of prayer on Nov. 8, explains that there are over 200 million followers of Christ who face some form of persecution in 105 of the world's 196 countries. more >>
WASHINGTON — At a Religious Freedom Project summit Friday at the Catholic University of America, a Chinese evangelist told of how she was was forced to make Christmas tree lights and endured starvation, electrocution and beatings in Chinese prisons and "re-education" labor camps due to her refusal to renounce Christ.
Speaking at the conference organized by Baylor University, the largest Baptist university in the world, Chinese evangelist Sarah Liu, and Syrian Christian ministry leaders, Joseph and Hannah Sleman, gave their testimonies to the torture and persecution faced by Christians unwilling to compromise in two of the most hostile regions toward Christianity this world has to offer.
Liu, a born-again Christian who was baptized in 1991 in the dead of a winter night due to fear of a government crackdown, told of how she and ministry partners traveled through China's Hubei province, going village to village, to spread the word of Christ. more >>