The UN has taken over peacekeeping in the Central African Republic amid an upsurge of violence which has left scores dead, including two pastors, in early September.
The pastors were killed when armed men stormed a town, looting properties while people took refuge in the bush. Around 100 were killed a week later in the compound of an Elim church, again while terrified people hid in the bush or fled to neighbouring villages.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
The Colombian Constitutional Court upheld the right to conscientious objection, freedom of worship and religious freedom on September 16 in the case of Jhonatan David Vargas Becerra, who was forcibly inducted into the military in March 2013 and later arrested and imprisoned on charges of going absent without leave.
His right to object to military service should have been respected from the outset as he had made a verbal declaration of his status in 2013. The court has given the National Army 48 hours to free him.
Germany: taboo broken
The Christian Institute
Laws prohibiting incest between siblings in Germany should be removed, according to a top government committee which said, in early October, it is ‘not appropriate for a criminal law to preserve a social taboo’.
‘The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination is to be weighed more heavily than the abstract idea of protection of the family’, stated the German Ethics Council. Incest remains illegal in the UK and in most European countries.
India: abortion/cancer link
Twelve studies into the link between breast cancer and abortion have shown that, on average, women who have had a prior abortion have a 554% greater risk of developing the disease, it was reported in September.
The reports come from studies conducted in the Indian subcontinent between 2008 and 2013. Women in India provide valuable data for studies, as they marry early, do not use the pill, have multiple pregnancies, and breastfeed their babies, which removes all the ‘confounding factors’ for breast cancer, thus making the data reliable.
India: court to oppose
In a positive move for Christians, the Bilaspur High Court in India has been persuaded by Christian organisations to oppose a ban preventing non-Hindu religious missionaries from entering villages in Bastar district, it was reported in mid-September.
The wording of the ban appears to prohibit non-Hindu religious activities altogether, undermining religious freedom in the area. Due to the ban, ten Christians, including three pastors, have been assaulted by Hindu radicals.
Nepal: free to convert?
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
The Prime Minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala, has committed to guaranteeing religious freedom in the forthcoming constitution, a pledge included in his message to Muslims and people of other faiths on the occasion of the Muslim festival of Bakra Eid on October 6.
An anti-conversion clause for the new constitution had been proposed, and there were also calls by prominent political leaders in the last few months for a constitutional ban on all conversions from one religion to another.
Pakistan: appeal rejected
British Pakistani Christian Association
Asia Bibi’s appeal against her sentence imposed under Pakistan’s blasphemy law was rejected on October 16 by a two member bench of Lahore High Court.
Justice Anwar-ul-Haque decided to uphold the original verdict meaning that Asia, who has been in prison since 2009, will remain on a death / whole life sentence. Her last chance for justice will be to appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Her husband, Asiq, said: ‘This appeal was supposed to be a ray of hope, but the rejection has shattered our confidence.’ Please pray for Asia, her husband and their five children.
Spain: reforms dropped
The Right to Life Charitable Trust
The Spanish government has abandoned its plans to tighten the country’s liberal abortion laws, it was reported in mid-September.
Reforms were planned that would make abortion illegal except in the case of rape or where there would be a risk to the mother’s physical and mental health, as certified by two doctors. Due to lack of consensus, the only requirement will be that 16 and 17 year-olds have their parents’ permission in order to have an abortion.
USA: chicken out
Chick-ﬁl-A, a fast food chain, has, in September, been banned from donating meals to a high school fundraising event in California because of its support for biblical marriage.
The school’s principal, Val Wyatt, banned the donation, saying: ‘With their political stance on gay rights and because the students of Ventura High School and their parents would be at the event, I didn’t want them on campus’.