Seventeen were killed and 10 wounded on Monday after Muslim rebels in the Central African Republic attacked a church which had provided refuge for thousands of the country's beleaguered citizens. The Rev. Thibault Ndemaguia confirmed the number to the Associated Press several hours after the attacks.
Residents believe that the fighters attacked the Catholic Church compound in Bambari seeking revenge for the death of a young Muslim man, reported Reuters. Between 4,000 and 6,000 Christians are believed to have taken shelter at St. Joseph Cathedral of Bambari.
The Rev. Firmin Gbagoua, a priest at St. Joseph's, told Reuters that he believed the attackers assumed the cathedral was hiding members of the Christian militia, or anti-balaka. more >>
Zhang Shaojie, a prominent church leader from central China, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for gathering crowds to "disturb public order." A U.S. campaign group has said that the decision constitutes religious persecution and the Chinese government's attempt to hold back the growth of Christianity.
"This case shows the Chinese government continues to cover up religious persecution with fabricated criminal charges against an innocent church leader," said Bob Fu, the head of China Aid, according to The Telegraph.
Liu Weiguo, a rights lawyer who has worked with the pastor in the past, said that he was shocked at the severity of the sentence. more >>
Sudanese Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim is facing a new lawsuit after her Islamic relatives submitted a case on Thursday trying to prove that she is a Muslim, which would make her marriage to a Christian man illegal under Islamic Shariah Law. The lawsuit could further delay Ibrahim's hopes to travel with her husband and children to the U.S. and seek refuge.
Abdel Rahman Malek, the lawyer hired by Ibrahim's Muslim family, said that the Khartoum Religious Court will be reviewing their case "asking to prove that Meriam Ibrahim belongs to her (Muslim) father and family," according to Reuters.
The 27-year-old woman was spared the death penalty after an appeals court overturned the sentence in June, which was originally imposed on her for marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American. Ibrahim was briefly detained last week following her release from prison, with Sudan's government accusing her of attempting to travel with falsified South Sudanese documents. more >>
Witnesses claim that Sudanese government officials recently destroyed a Christian church in the area of North Khartoum as congregants looked on.
Members of the Church of Christ in the Thiba Al Hamyida area of the country's capital told CNN journalists stationed in the area that they were given notification by government officials during their mass on Sunday that their church would be destroyed. One day later, a reported 70 security personnel, some dressed in plain clothes and armed with guns and tear gas, arrived at the church at around 10 a.m. and prevented congregants from entering. Church members then watched from outside as a bulldozer demolished their house of worship.
Security officials reportedly threatened to beat any church members who tried to stop the demolition. "They wanted to beat us or throw tear gas on us," one witness told Morning Star News, adding that no one was injured during the demolition that left the church in rubble by Monday afternoon. more >>
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 >>