Commission identifies which groups were singled out in 2020
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released its 2021 report April 21, focusing on the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on religious groups in several countries around the world. “We certainly understood and supported countries’ restriction of activities for their country, which also included religious church services,” said chairman Gayle Manchin. “What we found to be unacceptable were where minorities were targeted in a much stricter fashion, and their activities restricted much more harshly than other religions across the country.”
The group said Pakistani Shiites, religious minorities in North Korea, many Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere, and religious minorities and women in India were among those harassed, physically attacked, and arrested in 2020.
New Indiana law designates churches as essential services
Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a measure into law April 22 that notes, “Religious organizations provide essential services that are necessary for the health and welfare of the public during a disaster emergency.” Indiana’s new law prohibits the state government from treating a religious body worse during a public health emergency than secular entities.
More expected to return to worship as confidence grows
Lifeway Research found 66% of people who attended church weekly pre-COVID attended in person less frequently, if at all, in January 2021. And 25% attended weekly prior to the pandemic say they didn’t physically attend at all this January, even though their church offered in-person services.
Still, Lifeway reported, “These statistics indicate that one of pastors’ biggest concerns during the pandemic—that churchgoers won’t return—should be assuaged soon as more Americans become vaccinated, COVID-19 cases decline, and local health and safety guidelines allow for more gatherings.”
Pro-life advocates denounce change on fetal tissue research
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced April 16 it will no longer maintain a Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board to review proposals for external experiments using tissue from elective abortions. The decision by the Biden administration was decried by pro-life advocates including Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “This sort of research should be banned,” he said. “Human life and human bodies are not means to an end.”
Sources: Baptist Press, ERLC, Christian Post, Lifeway Research