The U.S. government needs to enhance the religious literacy of its foreign service officers and diplomats so that they can better address foreign policy challenges, a report advised.
Task force members of the report “Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for U.S. Foreign Policy,” sponsored by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said for too long the government has ignored the fact that religion plays a large role in the lives of the people its officers interact with overseas.
It is imperative that representatives of America engage with local religious communities and receive training on how to relate to these religious groups in order to fulfill its foreign interests, the task force said. more >>
Less than a quarter of the 1.3 million Haitians who need shelter have it. And with the rainy season upon the quake-stricken country, aid groups are urgently asking for help.
"It is raining almost every night, forcing thousands of Haitians to seek out shelter by standing under half-destroyed buildings in order to escape the elements," Tim Rickel, vice president of communication for World Gospel Mission, reported Tuesday.
Rickel received a report from a missionary on the ground in Haiti revealing that more than 1 million people affected by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the island nation last month are either sleeping in tent cities or out in the open. more >>
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 >>