International human rights group Amnesty International has obtained satellite images of North Korea that expose some of its largest prison camps, where hundreds of thousands of people, including children, are believed to be kept "in horrific conditions."
"The gruesome reality of North Korea's continued investment in this vast network of repression has been exposed. We urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those prisoners of conscience held in political prison camps and close the camps immediately," said Rajiv Narayan, Amnesty International's East Asia researcher.
Amnesty's detailed report said that the new findings are of "grave concern," as it shows that North Korean authorities are investing in and maintaining political prison camps – described as places of "systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations, such as forced hard labor, denial of detainee's food quota as punishment, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment." more >>
Since 1998, the conflict and humanitarian crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have ravaged the country's population of 65 million. Close to five and a half million Congolese have perished and nearly 45,000 die monthly because of related incidents. Women are vulnerable in the country — a 2011 study asserted that 48 women are raped every hour.
In a conflict that's lasted over a decade, what will bring peace?
While the country is currently trying to figure out how to address the problem on a broader, federal level, part of the hyper-local answer lies in the work of Marcel Serubungo. A Congolese pastor, and Church Mobilization Director for the Christian humanitarian group World Relief, Serubungo first found his start in community development work when he organized relief efforts after a 2001 volcano erupted in the area. more >>
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins led seven members of Congress known for their strong ties to evangelical Christians on a nine-day swing through Israel's Holy Land earlier this month, touring the country's most important religious sites and meeting with top-level Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The trip, sponsored by the U.S. Israel Education Association with grants from several Christian and Jewish organizations, included Congressmen Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Steve Scalise (R-La.).
The delegation spent the majority of their time behind what is known as the "green line," or the areas near Samaria that mark the line between Israel territories captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. While experiencing the Holy Sites helped the Congressmen gain an appreciation for Israel, Perkins noted the most important aspect of the trip was time spent with Netanyahu and other government officials and their concern for the recent agreement the Obama administration reached with Iran over the country's nuclear arsenal. more >>
Christian persecution and the cultural fear of public expressions of faith are signs of the end times, Pope Francis declared in a homily on Thursday.
"You must obey the orders which come from worldly powers – You can do many things, beautiful things, but not adore God. Worship is prohibited – this is at the center of the end of time," Pope Francis said in his daily homily in the chapel of the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse. Once we "reach the fullness of this pagan attitude…truly the Son of Man will come in a cloud with great power and glory," Francis declared, according to the Albany Tribune.
The pope preached on Jesus' speech in Luke 21 about the end times. In that passage, Jesus foretells the destruction of Jerusalem, and trials and tribulations that precede the end times. more >>
Time and again, Muslims, especially those in Egypt, project Islamic thinking onto Christians: thus the Coptic church has been accused of smuggling and storing weapons in its churches to take over the nation (when in fact mosques are regularly exposed housing illegal weapons for the jihad); of kidnapping and torturing Coptic girls who convert to Islam (when in fact Muslim converts to Christianity-apostates-are regularly beat, imprisoned, and sometimes killed); and even of supporting suicide-attacks when the church speaks of Copts being martyred (because in Islam being "martyred" so often means actively sacrificing one's life in "holy war").
Now a well know cleric in Egypt-the same who insists that Muslim husbands must hate their non-Muslim wives-has just proclaimed that Jesus was against the idea of separation of church and state and that he supported the idea of jizya, the Koran-mandated tribute conquered non-Muslims, or dhimmis, are required to pay their overlords, "with willing submission," per Koran 9:29.
Sheikh Yusuf Burhami, the most visible leader of Egypt's Salafi movement-which, since the ousting of the Brotherhood, has become the primary Islamist party imposing Sharia in the new constitution-recently issued an Arabic-language fatwa arguing that the biblical statement attributed to Jesus-"Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.'" (Matt 22:21)-could not, as widely held by Christians, have meant that Jesus supported the separation of church and state, "because," in Burhami's words, "a separation between state and religion contradicts the texts of the Koran." more >>
Who were the Pilgrims that we remember every Thanksgiving? What factors led them to leave behind their lives in England and Holland? To what extent do the religious freedom motives that many in our country assign them actually factor into their motives to start the Plymouth colony? Answering these questions is the heart of Wheaton history professor's Tracy McKenzie's latest book, "The First Thanksgiving," where he attempts to set the record straight about our country's beloved, and at times misunderstood, holiday.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Can you take us through some of the ways that the Pilgrims defy or exceed the expectations that we have historically put on them? more >>