South China Church leaders to get new trial
A Chinese appellate court has overturned the death sentences of five Christian leaders in a growing evangelical church movement. They will be given a retrial.
Pastor Gong Shengliang, his niece, and three others were sentenced last December for organizing the banned South China Church. The convictions were part of a Chinese effort to stamp out "evil cults."
The Christians' trial was held in secret. Gong and two others received death sentences and three others were given suspended death sentences. Dozens of church members were imprisoned or sent to camps for "re-education through labor."
Additional charges against Gong included rape, assault, arson, and endangering national security. No evidence was made public. Gong was scheduled to die on January 5 but international pressure pushed China to grant a stay of execution to appeal.
The case is due to re-open today. The appeals ruling comes only weeks before Chinese President Jiang Zemin attends a summit in Texas with President Bush. When Bush visited China in February, he made his position on religious freedom clear.
"Ninety-five percent of Americans say they believe in God, and I'm one of them," he said in a university speech. ''My prayer is that all persecution will end, so that all in China are free to gather and worship as they wish."
FDA appointment stirs debate
The nomination of the author of As Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring Women Then and Now to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel is stirring controversy this week.
W. David Hager, an obstetrician-gynecologist and University of Kentucky professor, is a Bush administration nominee to lead the 11-member Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee and its study of hormone-replacement ...1
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