Church and State
August 7, 2014
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China has a growing number of Christians, and that's causing increasing tensions with the officially atheistic ruling Chinese Communist Party. China's solution is if you can't beat 'em, co-opt them.

"Over the past decades, the Protestant churches in China have developed very quickly with the implementation of the country's religious policy," says Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper. "The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China's national condition and integrate with Chinese culture," including its path of socialism.

Christians in China have to worship in state-approved and supervised churches, and official estimates number the country's Protestant population at 23 million to 40 million, with 500,000 more baptized each year. Wang was speaking at an event in Shanghai to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China. He didn't address the estimated 12 million Catholics in China, about half of whom illegally follow the lead of the Roman Catholic Church while the other half worship in the officially sanctioned, Vatican-rejecting Catholic church.

Wang didn't elaborate on this new "Chinese Christian theology," but the Three-Self Patriotic Movement's Gu Mengfei explained that the year-old Chinese push to promote correct Christian theology encourages pastors and laypeople alike to extract moral teachings in line with Biblical times and with other religious faiths. "This will encourage more believers to make contributions to the country's harmonious social progress, cultural prosperity, and economic development," Gu added. Peter Weber

Quotables
11:38 a.m. ET
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Saturday Night Live's Cecily Strong spared no one in Washington with her routine at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, but her most poignant barbs focused on race relations in America.

"Your hair is so white now it can talk back to the police," Strong said of President Obama.

Earlier, Strong earned mostly hushed grumbling when she combined into one punchline recent police shootings of unarmed black men and reports of Secret Service incompetence. Calling for applause for Secret Service agents in attendance, Strong called them, "the only law enforcement agency that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot."

You can watch Strong's full routine below. —Jon Terbush

2016 Watch
11:04 a.m. ET
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Saturday claimed Christians in America face persecution at the hands of intolerant liberals.

"Today's Democratic Party has decided there is no room for Christians," Cruz warned at Iowa's Faith and Freedom Coalition summit.

"There is a liberal fascism that is going after Christian believers," he added.

Counting Cruz, nine declared or potential Republican presidential candidates attended the event in hopes of wooing evangelical voters. Representing a range of experience and political positions, the presidential hopefuls all tailored their messages to fit the religious tenor of the evening. Jon Terbush

Bringing the lols
10:44 a.m. ET
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President Obama came to the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday with plenty of barbs about Washington lawmakers and the reporters who cover them.

Noting that host Cecily Strong plays a CNN anchor on Saturday Night Live, Obama quipped that it was "surprising because usually the only people impersonating journalists are journalists on CNN." And addressing Dick Cheney's recent media tour in which the former vice president lambasted Obama, the president said the feeling was mutual.

"He thinks I'm the worst president of his lifetime," Obama said, "which is interesting because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime." —Jon Terbush

Developing story
9:19 a.m. ET
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At least 2,263 people are dead and nearly 6,000 are injured after Saturday's catastrophic earthquake in Nepal, according to the country's Home Ministry.

A powerful 7.8 magnitude quake and a series of violent aftershocks — one an estimated 6.7 magnitude rumbling on Sunday — rocked the mountain nation, destroying historic buildings, buckling infrastructure, and leaving behind widespread devastation. Thousands of people squatted in the streets after the first seismic activity either because the quake leveled their homes or because it made them too afraid to go back indoors.

The earthquake also triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest that killed at least 18 people while injuring or trapping dozens more.

"I ran away," climber Nick Talbot told The New York Times. "I thought, 'There is no chance I can get away.' I just had my socks on." Jon Terbush

No justice no peace
7:55 a.m. ET
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Baltimore police on Saturday arrested 12 people after a dwindling protest over the police custody death of Freddie Gray descended into violence.

An estimated 2,000 people marched peacefully for hours hours before a small splinter group began hurling rocks, smashing windows, and scuffling with police. Protesters also tangled with bystanders and police outside Camden Yards during a game between the Orioles and Red Sox, prompting the city to ask fans to remain inside the venue until authorities cleared the scene.

"I am profoundly disappointed to see the violence in our city this evening," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

The city has suspended six officers while investigating how Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. Jon Terbush

Develop
April 25, 2015
Omar Havana / Getty Images

A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal Saturday, leveling historic structures, causing widespread damage, and killing at least 1,457.

The quake struck around noon about 50 miles from the capital, Kathmandu. The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers pick through the rubble in search of survivors.

"We never imagined that we would face such devastation," Minister of Information and Communications Minendra Rijal said.

The quake also triggered a fatal avalanche on Mount Everest that killed at least a dozen climbers while injuring or trapping several more. From Romanian climber Alex Gavan:

The U.S. said it would send a disaster response team and pledged $1 million in aid. Jon Terbush

Ongoing investigation
April 25, 2015
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An internal review of NBC anchorman Brian Williams' reporting has found several more alleged exaggerations, according to multiple reports. The New York Times on Friday reported NBC found a half-dozen such instances; CNN and The Washington Post later upped the tally to 10 and 11, respectively.

In February, NBC suspended Williams as it launched an investigation following his apology for embellishing details of his wartime reporting from Iraq. When completed, the investigation is expected to form the basis of NBC's decision to keep or cut ties with Williams. Jon Terbush

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