Walking toward Chicago’s Federal Plaza a few months ago, I saw what appeared to be a rather large aggregate of people engaging in aerobic exercises. On closer inspection, however, the group—many of them of Chinese background—proved to be performing the slow-motion rituals of the spiritual movement known as Falun Gong, which claims a worldwide following of around 100 million.
Released Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu said on April 21 he had been persecuted by the authorities in Israel because of his conversion to Christianity. “I want to tell those who say I am a traitor, I suffered here 18 years because I am a Christian,” Vanunu said after his release from 18 years in jail.
The Israeli government’s refusal to renew visas to Christian clergy in the Holy Land has precipitated a crisis with the Vatican and the entire Christian world, say Catholic representatives. All told, it is estimated that hundreds of priests, nuns and Christian volunteers have not been granted permission to remain in Israel.
Mel Gibson’sThe Passion of the Christ movie about the death of Jesus earned $17 million over the Easter weekend, making it the eighth-highest grossing film of all time. Gibson’s self-financed blockbuster had earned $354.9 million since it debuted on Feburary 25, Ash Wednesday.
The State Department’s annual report on the status of religious freedom worldwide is out, and its chief villains have familiar faces. The report says China, Burma and North Korea remain among the world’s most egregious and systematic violators of religious liberty.