President Obama's faith advisory council recently voted to require churches that receive federal funds to establish separate non-profit corporations as a "necessary means of achieving church-state separation."
The vote was 13 to 12 in favor of the requirement.
The 25 members, who were appointed last year to advise the revamped White House faith-based office, placed their votes on what Melissa Rogers, chair of the council, says are "non-consensus issues" earlier this month. more >>
A group of leading international human rights specialists urged the United Nations on Thursday to help find one of China’s top Christian human rights lawyers.
Gao Zhisheng, who was once named by the Chinese government as one of the country’s ten best lawyers, has been missing for one year as of Thursday. He was reportedly seized by a dozen police officers and last seen in public on Feb. 4, 2009. The Chinese government has made vague references to Gao’s detainment, but many times it has also denied knowing where he is.
“We urge China to let Gao Zhisheng’s family know where he is being held and why he is being detained, in accordance with Chinese law,” said Jerome Cohen, a professor at New York University Law School and one of the nation’s foremost expert in Chinese law. “He should immediately be granted access to council and either charged with a crime or released.” more >>
The ten American Baptists who tried to take 33 Haitian children across the border to the Dominican Republic were charged Thursday with abduction and criminal association.
Haitian Deputy Prosecutor Jean Ferge Joseph announced the charges and said that the case was being sent to an investigative judge. The charges carry prison terms of up to 15 years. After the announcement, the U.S. missionaries were led back to their prison cells.
Last Friday, the ten-member team, made up mostly of members from an Idaho Baptist church, was arrested while trying to take a bus full of Haitian children across the border. The leader of the Baptist team, Laura Silsby, 40, said the group was bringing the children to a 45-room hotel in the Dominican Republic, where they would stay until a permanent orphanage could be constructed. more >>
International Christian aid agency World Vision is encouraging Americans this month to especially pray for the critical needs of children in Haiti.
The agency proclaimed February to be the month of prayer for Haiti’s children, who are susceptible to diseases, infection and exploitation in addition to homelessness and hunger in the aftermath of last month’s devastating earthquake.
“We are especially concerned about children’s needs and vulnerabilities in this disaster,” said Steve Haas, World Vision’s vice president for church relations. “We know it is going to be a marathon – and not a sprint – to help them and their families recover and rebuild their lives.” more >>
A Baptist church in Idaho whose members were detained in Haiti for attempting to move children to the Dominican Republic said Sunday that its team was “falsely arrested” and it is working to “clear up the misunderstanding.”
A ten-member team from several Baptist churches in the United States was arrested by Haitian officials Saturday after trying to take 33 children across the border to the Dominican Republic. The church members say they are bringing the children to an orphanage where they will be given medical and emotional care.
But authorities are concerned about child trafficking, a serious problem in quake-devastated Port-au-Prince where thousands of children are without parents or guardians. more >>
U.N. agencies and an association representing over 80 NGOs are calling for an “immediate opening of Gaza’s crossing,” asserting that the continuing closure of the Gaza Strip is putting at risk the health of 1.4 million people.
“It is causing on-going deterioration in the social, economic and environmental determinants of health,” reported Max Gaylard, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
“It is hampering the provision of medical supplies and the training of health staff and it is preventing patients with serious medical conditions getting timely specialized treatment outside Gaza,” he added in a statement released on the one-year anniversary of Israel’s military offensive on Gaza. more >>