President Bush in January authorized sanctions against Belarus for its religious intolerance and electoral and human-rights abuses. The Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act of 2006 bars top Belarus officials from entering the United States. The sanctions also fund independent media, democratic political parties, trade unions, youth groups, and other non-governmental organizations in the former Soviet Republic.

The Evangelical Local Council of Churches of the Holy Land (ELCCHL) joined the World Evangelical Alliance in early December. By joining the evangelical umbrella organization, the ELCCHL hopes to raise awareness of the hardships faced by Palestinian Christians. The ELCCHL comprises about 20 evangelical pastors, mostly from the Bethlehem area.

Christians in southern India suffered a number of attacks in the closing weeks of 2006 and early 2007, Compass Direct reported. A group of seven youths asked a pastor in Karnataka state to "pray for a sick friend" before they beat him on January 7. Hindu extremists beat four pastors of an Assembly of God church in Kerala state in early November. About two weeks later, a Hindu mob in nearby Andhra Pradesh state vandalized a Catholic school and abused the nuns, threatening to parade them naked. Hindu extremists also set fire to three Andhra Pradesh churches, according to International Christian Concern. Still other groups beat four pastors in Andhra Pradesh in late December and early January. Many of the attacks appear to stem from anger over Christian evangelism. Violence and persecution have increased during the past five years in India's southern states, formerly considered safe for Christians, said Compass Direct..

Related Elsewhere:

Other Christianity Today articles on Belarus include:

More Money, Less Liberty | Observers parse motives behind new tax exemption. (March 1, 2006)
Restricting Faith | New law makes it harder than ever to be non-Orthodox (November 18, 2002)
Pastor Charged with Speaking for Unregistered Organization | Case dismissed on technicality for pastor from Minsk, but courts are still deciding the fate of the Association for Religious Freedom in Belarus. (January 2001)

The US Department of the Treasury explains the sanctions against Belarus.

The BBC has a profile of Belarus, including a timeline of key events in the country's history.

The World Evangelical Alliance issued a press release welcoming the ELCCHL.

Compass Direct reported the New Year attacks in southern India, as well as more recent ones, in news briefs from February 2, 5, 9, 12, 13, and 20.

Christianity Today articles on India are collected on our site.

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