India Joins 13 Other Violators of Religious Liberty
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom on April 28th released its 2020 Annual Report, documenting significant developments last year, including remarkable progress in Sudan but a sharp downturn of religious freedom in India. Last December, India passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which enables illegal immigrants of various religions to apply for citizenship, but excludes Muslims. India joins 13 other nations designated as “countries of particular concern.”

Buddhists Celebrate Imprisoned Panchen Lama’s 31st Birthday
In 1995, the Dalai Lama selected Gedhun Choekyi Nyima to be Tibetan Buddhism’s Panchen Lama, second only in importance to the Dalai Lama. However, the Chinese Communist government immediately took the then-six-year old boy and his family into custody and he has never been publicly seen since. The Chinese government named another Panchen Lama, who has never been accepted by the rest of the world. Late last month marked the boy’s 31st birthday and his 25th year in captivity, and Buddhists around the world demanded that he be released. China, meanwhile has become one of the world’s most flagrant violators of religious liberty, as documented by Bitter Winter.

Hasidic Jews in NYC Bring Social Distancing Conflict
Hasidic Jews in BrooklynHasidic Jews conducted several crowded weddings and funerals in New York City in violation of social distancing and other directives to hinder the spread of COVID-19. However, one writer said that while it was not a uniquely Jewish problem, one of the strengths of the Orthodox Jewish community is togetherness, but that togetherness is troublesome in regard to communicable diseases.

Indications that COVID-19 Antibody Therapy Might be Effective
Some 30 Houston Methodist COVID-19 patients, treated with blood-plasma antibodies from those recovered from the virus, have themselves recovered. In addition, the first patient to receive the so-called “convalescent serum therapy” in New York City has also recovered.

Most States Exempt Religions from Social Distancing Rules
While every state has instituted rules on social interactions, those rules vary when it comes to permitting or prohibiting religious gatherings, according to Pew Research. Ten states including California prohibit in person religious gatherings altogether, and Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsome has been sued by churches for an alleged violation of First Amendment rights. The Pew report contains a map of state restrictions.

Pandemic Has Strengthened Religious Faith
Hillsong’s Marty Sampson is Losing His FaithThe COVIID-19 pandemic has strengthened religious faith in the United States, even though most houses of worship are closed, according to a study by Pew Research. One-quarter of U.S. adults overall (24 percent) say their faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 2 percent say their faith has become weaker. The majority say their faith hasn’t changed much (47 percent) or that the question isn’t applicable because they were not religious to begin with (26 percent).