Blasphemy and Apostasy Punished; Winter Olympics — Thawing of China’s Treatment of Religious Minorities? China May Restrict Religious Expression Following Olympics; Streaming Online a Godsend for Churches and the Isolated; City Restricts Church Homeless Outreach

Blasphemy and Apostasy Punished

Atheist Palestinian Poet’s Apostasy Sentence Reduced to 8 Years and 800 Lashes

Ken Mayer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In scores of countries around the world, laws against apostasy and blasphemy remain on the books – and many are enforced to various degrees. a new Pew Research Center analysis finds that 79 countries and territories out of the 198 studied around the world (40 percent) had laws or policies in 2019 banning blasphemy, which is defined as “speech or actions considered to be contemptuous of God or of people or objects considered sacred.” Twenty-two countries (11 percent) had laws against apostasy, the act of abandoning one’s faith. The analysis draws on the Center’s wider body of research on government restrictions related to religion. Article 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifically protect the right to change religion, and to freedom of speech.

Winter Olympics — Thawing of China’s Treatment of Religious Minorities?

2022 Winter Olympics By kremlin.ru, CC BY 3.0

2022 Winter Olympics By kremlin.ru, CC BY 3.0

The opening ceremonies of the 2022 Beijing Olympics showcased a Uyghur torch-bearer, which many found surprising in view of China’s suppression of the Uyghurs, Tibetans, ethnic groups and many different faiths. What it means is not clear, perhaps evidence that China does respond to outside criticism.

China May Restrict Religious Expression Following Olympics

Great Wall of China Image by Andy Leung

Great Wall of China Image by Andy Leung

China is set to impose new restrictions on online religious content that will essentially outlaw evangelistic scripture just days after the games conclude, according to Christian persecution watchdog China Aid. The new law, Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information, takes effect March 1 as China enters the fourth year of its five-year plan to Sinicize Christianity.

Streaming Online a Godsend for Churches and the Isolated
Will This Computer Teach Us About The Future Of Religion?A report on churches and technology during the pandemic found that by offering online services, churches were able to expand their reach, often connecting with people outside their community or reconnecting with former members who had moved away. Even small congregations that had once struggled to reach outside the walls of the church were able to expand their reach, according to “When Pastors Put on the ‘Tech Hat,” from the Tech in Churches research project, led by Heidi Campbell, professor of communication at Texas A&M University.

City Restricts Church Homeless Outreach
A Portland Church is a Building a Village for Homeless PeopleAn Oregon church is suing the coastal city of Brookings, arguing that an ordinance — which limits the church to offering free meals just twice a week, violates its religious freedom. St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon filed the lawsuit against the city on Friday (Jan. 28) in Oregon’s U.S. District Court. “We’ve been serving our community here for decades and picking up the slack where the need exists and no one else is stepping in,” said the Rev. James Bernard Lindley, vicar of St. Timothy’s, in a statement from the diocese. “We have no intention of stopping now and we’re prepared to hold fast to our beliefs. We won’t abandon the people of Brookings who need our help, even when we’re being threatened.”