We've compiled the top stories of the week. Here's what you need to know:
Open Doors: Over 9,000 churches, Christian buildings attacked worldwide in 2019
Leading Christian persecution watchdog nongovernmental organization Open Doors USA released it’s 2020 World Watch List Wednesday, an influential annual data report that this year highlights a drastic increase in attacks against Christian buildings and the imprisonment of Christians.
The report ranks the worst 50 countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians and is based on data compiled by Open Doors’ operations in 60 countries.
Open Doors USA CEO David Curry said China represents the “greatest threat” to human rights as it seeks to control the Chinese people and churches through surveillance.
“Churches must be sacred places. If the government was monitoring you, your every move, scoring your citizenship based on how often you went to church or didn’t go to church, how would you feel? That’s what’s happening in China.” — David Curry
President Trump issues new guidance to protect prayer in public schools
On National Religious Freedom Day Thursday, President Trump announced several new rules and memos designed to roll back "discriminatory" federal regulations as well as promote teachers' and students' right to pray in public schools.
The goal is to "further safeguard students’ constitutionally protected right to pray in school" and to let public school administrators know that they can lose federal funding if they violate students’ religious freedom.
"In public schools around the country, authorities are stopping students and teachers from praying, sharing their faith or following their religious beliefs. It is totally unacceptable. You see it on the football field, you see it so many times where they are stopped from praying. We are doing something to stop that." — President Trump
Christian film ‘Breakthrough’ gets Oscar nomination; Chrissy Metz lands record deal
The 2019 blockbuster hit “Breakthrough” was nominated for an Academy Award on Monday, putting faith-based content on a platform where it’s rarely recognized.
The movie, which is based on a true story, was nominated for Best Original Song for the emotional tune, “I’m Standing With You,” performed by lead actress in the film Chrissy Metz and written by award-winning songwriter Diane Warren.
Universal Music Group Nashville, the label behind the soundtrack for the 20th Century Fox picture also announced that they offered a record deal to Metz, who is now working on her debut country album.
March for Life Chicago sees record turnout; organizers witnessing 'hearts and minds change' on abortion
The Illinois-based pro-life group March for Life Chicago said this year's march drew a record numbers as the organization estimated that at least 9,000 people participated in Saturday's march, the largest attendance yet for their annual event in the Windy City.
March for Life Chicago is one of multiple demonstrations held by pro-life groups in the U.S. each January in response to the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
Decided on Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that there was a constitutional right to abortion. The decision has remained controversial over the decades as more than 60 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. since that ruling.
"It’s just a matter of time for us to continue to change the minds and hearts of people to realize that we're talking about humanity. This is a human being and science has proved that. A human being at the moment of conception." — Dawn Fitzpatrick, president of March for Life Chicago's board of directors
The family of executed pastor Hussein Soodmand and other political dissidents
Alexandria Levin Amazed (Jan. 17)
A Little Book for New Preachers by Matthew D. Kim (Jan. 14)
The Handwriting on the Wall by Dr. David Jeremiah (Jan. 14)