Pew: Restrictions, hostilities increase for people of faith

 
The world's religious adherents experienced greater government restraints and social animosities after two years of declines, according to a newly released study. The Pew Research Center reported on April 11th that the percentage of countries with "high" or "very high" levels of anti-religious policies or acts increased in 2015. The share of countries with such levels of government restrictions— including laws, policies and actions—edged up from 24 percent in 2014 to 25 percent in 2015. The percentage of countries with such degrees ...

Year after Pakistan Easter bombing, suffering lingers

 
Families are still struggling a year after a suicide bomber killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds others in an attack targeting Christians at Easter in Lahore, Pakistan, International Christian Concern (ICC) noted on the event's March 27 anniversary. At least 21 Christians were killed and 45 Christians injured when an Islamic State terrorist denoted a suicide vest, killing an estimated 75 people and injuring about 340 others during an evening Easter celebration in a public park. "The Easter day bombing left me alone," Tariq, ...

Religious liberty in China is 'rapidly deteriorating'

 
The persecution of Christians in China has increased, and is expected to continue to do so, as a result of a dramatic policy change by the communist government, according to the human rights organization China Aid. In its annual report released March 2, China Aid said Beijing's shift in how it seeks to manage religion and the adoption of that new policy by government agencies resulted in expanded persecution of individual Christians and greater oppression of unregistered house churches in 2016. Conditions ...

Christians in Egypt flee after killings in North Sinai

 
Hundreds of Christians continue to flood out of the Egyptian town of Al-Arish in northern Sinai after the third Coptic Christian in a week was gunned down on Feb. 23, reportedly by Islamic State-linked militants. The mass exodus comes after three Coptic Christians were killed in what appears to be the work of militants making good on Islamic State threats issued on a Feb. 19 video promising to rid the country of "idolaters." The latest slaying was the seventh killing of a ...

ANALYSIS: What to know about apostasy laws worldwide

 
When a Sudanese court handed down a death sentence to Meriam Yahya Ibrahim for converting from Islam to Christianity, her case sparked international outcry. The young wife and expecting mother was convicted of apostasy, a crime in Sudan. Although the furor died down after her 2014 release, the law she was found guilty of violating remains on the books today. As recently as one month ago in Sudan, a group of men, including three teenagers, was accused of apostasy for following ...

Baptist missionary fighting Russia's anti-evangelism law

 
A longtime Baptist missionary convicted under Russia's anti-evangelism law has returned briefly to his Illinois home as lawyers appeal his conviction and challenge the law's constitutionality. Donald Ossewaarde was compelled to end his ministry months ago after his arrest under the July 2016 law. He hopes other Baptists might find ways to continue to minister in Russia as his attorneys defend religious freedom in the nation more than 25 years after the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). "There's ...

Southern Baptist leaders call on Christians to pray for Aleppo

 
Southern Baptist leaders are exhorting Christians to pray for Aleppo, Syria, a city being destroyed in civil war between the Syrian government and rebels, including the Islamic State. The latest call for prayer follows the desperate pleas of residents who believed their death was imminent as the Syrian government reportedly made significant progress in overtaking and evacuating rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo. The United Nations received multiple reports of execution-style killings—although it was not clear whether the perpetrators ...

2nd 'Insanity' simulcast Nov. 13, DVD release Nov. 21

 
More than 1,000 churches have registered for two simulcasts of the feature documentary film, "The Insanity of God." The first simulcast was Nov. 9 and the last is Sunday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. Eastern. A DVD of the film on the persecuted church will be released Nov. 21. Produced by the International Mission Board and Cooke Pictures and distributed by LifeWay Films, "The Insanity of God" tells the story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken. After the death of their son, the couple ...

Russian anti-evangelism case appeal postponed

 
A Baptist missionary's appeal of a judgment against him for teaching a Bible study in his home in Oryol, Russia, was postponed in the middle of proceedings Sept. 19 when the judge said additional witnesses were needed to continue. Donald Ossewaarde, who appealed a $600 fine under Russia's new law prohibiting organizations from evangelizing outside church walls and without a government permit, said his attorney believes the postponement is a delay tactic designed to sidestep justice. "He [the attorney] was convinced that ...

Muslim rebels massacre Christians in Central African Republic

 
Muslim militants slaughtered 26 civilians in a predominantly Christian village in the Central African Republic on Friday (Sept. 16), the worst violence in the embattled country in months, sources said. Rebels from the former Seleka group attacked the village of Ndomete, about 220 miles north of the capital city of Bangui, at 8 p.m. and went door-to-door killing Christians, a source in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo told Morning Star News. Fighting between Seleka, officially disbanded in 2013, and Christian "anti-Balaka" militias has ...

Russian anti-evangelism law victim requests prayer

 
A Baptist missionary who ended his ministry in Russia after being arrested under a new anti-evangelism law is requesting prayer in advance of his Sept. 19 appeal hearing. Donald Ossewaarde was found guilty and fined 40,000 rubles, about $600, a month ago when Russian police interrupted a Sunday Bible study in his home, charging him with evangelizing outside church walls and without a government permit. "Please pray that these charges will be dropped," Ossewaarde pleads in the latest update on his webpage. "My ...

Second showing of 'Insanity of God' scheduled for Sept. 13

 
Response to the one-night premiere of "The Insanity of God" in movie theaters across the United States has prompted an encore showing for Tuesday, Sept. 13. The feature documentary produced by the International Mission Board and Cooke Pictures and distributed by LifeWay Films tells the story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken. After the death of their son, the couple traveled to 72 countries into the depths of the persecuted church to find out if God actually makes a difference in difficult ...

'Insanity of God' to be shown Tuesday in theaters across U.S.

 
"The Insanity of God," the true story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken and their work with the persecuted church, will be shown in 500 U.S. theaters Aug. 30 for a special one-night, feature event. The presentation will include International Mission Board president, author and speaker David Platt interviewing Nik Ripken, as well as a performance by music artist Todd Smith. The film is based on the best-selling book, "The Insanity of God" (B&H Publishing Group), which tells the ...

Report: Christian persecution rising in India

 
Persecution of Christians in India increased dramatically the first half of 2016 and is on pace to far exceed cases the previous two years, a new independent report found. The 134 incidents of violence against Christians in India chronicled Jan. 1-June 30 of this year were "just a fraction of the violence on the ground," the Evangelical Fellowship of India's Religious Liberty Commission (EFIRLC) noted in its report, Hate and Targeted Violence Against Christians in India. The incidents noted in six months compared ...

Priest killed in ISIS' first known attack on Western church

 
Islamic State jihadists slit the throat of an elderly Catholic priest who was celebrating Mass in Normandy, France, early July 26, marking the terrorist group's first known attack on a church in the West, The Associated Press reported. In the knife attack just before 10 a.m. in the rural community of Saint-Etienne-Du-Rouvray, two men forced 85-year-old priest Jacques Hamel to his knees, murdered him and filmed themselves making comments in Arabic while dancing around the altar, a nun who witnessed the ...

Saeed Abedini church worker near death in Iran prison

 
A female Christian convert who worked with Saeed Abedini planting house churches years ago in Iran is on a hunger strike and near death in the harsh Evin prison in Tehran, Iran, the freed pastor told Baptist Press. Nasim Naghash Zargaran, also known as Maryam, was one of the first persons who converted to Christianity under Abedini's counsel [16 years ago], he told BP, and shortly after Abedini's 2012 imprisonment was arrested because of her vigilant evangelism. Denied proper medical treatment for ...