As the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act that was signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964, a lesser known Civil Rights Act was signed into a law almost 100 years before, in 1866.
The 1964 document barred discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and national origin, and was followed by other federal legislative civil rights measures like the Voting Rights Act (1965) and Fair Housing Act (1968).
Pope Francis argued on Monday that the 21st century has seen more Christians under siege for their faith than during the time of the early church.
"There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians," said the pope during a mass in honor of Christian martyrs who were killed under Roman Emperor Nero. "Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an 'elegant' way, with 'white gloves:' that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries."
Pope Francis' words come at a time when Iraq's small population of Christians, which trace their roots back to the earliest days of Christianity, have had to flee their homes as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have taken over the city of Mosul. On Sunday, Nigerian Christians were once again targeted by the Boko Haram, which killed scores of worshippers and burned down four churches in a major attack in Kwada and Kautikari villages. more >>
North Korea has said it will put on trial two American tourists charged with "perpetrating hostile acts" against the country. One of the tourists was detained for leaving a Bible behind in his hotel room.
"The significance of these arrests and trials cannot be overstated: North Korea is choosing to publicly blame Christian missionaries for its human rights problems and internal difficulties," Seoul USA CEO Pastor Eric Foley told The Christian Post in an email on Monday.
"There are important lessons to be learned from the arrests by Christians seeking to reach North Korea in the future. Now is not the time to comment on the strategies of those being detained. But what we can conclude with certainty is that there is no 'back door' into North Korea – no strategy for sharing the gospel there that does not involve paying the highest of personal prices. This is what North Korean underground Christians have known and practiced for years." more >>
Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman recently released from a Sudanese prison after facing the death penalty, has sought refuge with her family at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum while they attempt to leave the African country.
Ibrahim was originally facing the death penalty for charges of apostasy and adultery, as she was accused of converting from Islam to Christianity as an adult and marrying a Christian man. After an intense international outcry, Ibrahim's charges were dropped when an appeals court found the lower court's death sentence ruling to be unfounded.
After Ibrahim and her family, including her husband, an American citizen, and their two children arrived at the Khartoum airport earlier this week to leave the country, they were reportedly re-arrested by 40 security agents over an issue regarding her emergency travel documents. Sudanese officials claimed Ibrahim was attempting to use documents from South Sudan when she needed a passport to leave the country. more >>
Some 10,000 people fled this week from predominantly Christian communities in Qaraqosh, Iraq, a neighboring city to Mosul where members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have reportedly overrun and are now viciously attacking Christians who fail to pay a poll tax.
"Community leaders say the residents of Qaraqosh fled by bus, car and taxi into northern Iraq's Kurdistan region on Wednesday night. Many are women and children. They are now staying with families, relatives and in schools and community centers. Most are in Erbil. They fled in a rush, with little time to bring belongings with them," said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a report Friday morning.
Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida, is a historic Assyrian town of 50,000 people, located approximately 30 kilometers south-east of Mosul, which is Iraq's second largest city, according to the UNHCR. more >>
Persecution watchdog Open Doors is sending food, water and humanitarian aid to close to 3,000 Christian families that have fled the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was recently taken over by Islamic extremists looking to enforce Sharia law.
"The immediate needs were very obvious – water and food," an Open Doors field worker said.
"Because many of the refugees were placed in schools or empty buildings, they were sleeping on a piece of cardboard; there were no mattresses and pillows. And with temperatures reaching 113 degrees during the day, a third need made itself known – air coolers, especially important for families with young children or the elderly." more >>