Amid the usual news stories this Easter Sunday – accounts of the president’s family attending church and the pope addressing multitudes – there is this startling and vastly hopeful headline:
China on course to become 'world's most Christian nation' within 15 years
According to Tom Phillips, writing in the Telegraph:
Christian congregations ... have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao's death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution. Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world's number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.
China is, of course, still a one-party state following the transition from Madman Mao to the more technocrat totalitarians of today. While they may be less ferocious than the Dear Leader, they still recognize a threat when they see one:
China's leadership worry about how the religious landscape might shape its political future, and its possible impact on the Communist Party's grip on power, despite the clause in the country's 1982 constitution that guarantees citizens the right to engage in "normal religious activities".
As a result, a close watch is still kept on churchgoers, and preachers are routinely monitored to ensure their sermons do not diverge from what the Party considers acceptable.
They may also be wise enough to realize that they are on the losing side of something even larger than history.
The anti-Christian violence in Egypt is "a modern pogrom," David Brog, the executive director of Christians United for Israel, says in a statement.
"Events in Egypt this week highlight yet again the tragedy facing the Christians of the Middle East. Once again, Christians are being targeted for murder. Once again Christian schools, businesses and churches are being attacked. And once again, the world is largely silent," Brog says.
A band of Muslim raiders sacked Rome in 846 a.d., plundering the city’s churches and getting clean away with their loot. They had come from Palermo, in Sicily, which had been in Muslim hands for 15 years. Sicily was then on its way to becoming a predominantly Islamic and Arabic-speaking island, and it remained under Muslim rule for over two centuries, until the Normans conquered it in the late 11th century.
In an interview that aired this morning, President Obama was asked whether he'd have too much influence over an American pope. He didn't answer the question, but he did say he hopes the next pope carries the "central message of the Gospel":
Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts has banned a Christian group from campus because the group requires student leaders to adhere to "basic biblical truths of Christianity." The decision to ban the group, called the Tufts Christian Fellowship, was made by officials from the university's student government, specifically the Tufts Community Union Judiciary.
Just in time for the nearly 2 million member Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly this week, which will consider anti-Israel divestment, some prominent Christian activists have released a new anti-Israel salvo, called Kairos USA.
Last Sunday, CBS’s 60 Minutes broadcast “Christians of the Holy Land,” by Bob Simon, largely blaming Israel for an exodus of Christians from the Holy Land. The showing coincides with a growing international campaign to portray Israel as anti-Christian, showcasing Palestinian Christians as evidence.
Fyodor Dostoevsky once purportedly wrote that the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. As many in the mainstream media have reminded us since his April 21 death at age 80, Charles W. Colson first did so in 1973, as President Nixon’s “hatchet man” sent to prison for seven months after his role in exposing Daniel Ellsberg. His subsequent contributions to improving the lives of prisoners—and to setting in motion entirely new prison paradigms—will endure for decades to come.
It’s widely reported that Charles Colson once said he'd walk over his grandmother to get Richard Nixon elected to a second term. In the Nixon White House he was considered smart, effective, and ruthless—Nixon's "hatchet man." Then came Watergate, a prison sentence, and a conversion nearly as dramatic as St. Augustine’s or St. Paul’s.
In Nigeria, thousands of people have been killed in recent months, and tens of thousands in the last decade. It is a fissiparous country whose conflicts have been exacerbated by the increased influence of radical Islam—beginning with attempts to apply Islamic law, then the growth of militias, and now the depredations of the vicious al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram movement.