Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 26, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - April 26, 2013

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Pastor Saeed Abedini Praying for Boston Bombing Victims From Iranian Prison
  • Islamic Council Proposes Death Penalty for Apostates in Morocco
  • Defense Rests: Gosnell Won't Testify in Abortion-Murder Trial
  • Copts Call on Obama to Speak Out on Christian Persecution in Egypt


Pastor Saeed Abedini Praying for Boston Bombing Victims From Iranian Prison

U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini, who is currently suffering from internal bleeding in Iranian prison, said that he was praying for America in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and left more than 200 injured last week, the Christian Post reports. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, "Pastor Saeed told family members he had heard about the terrorist bombings in Boston on the prison radio, expressed his concern, and told them he is praying for the victims and their families during this very challenging time for our nation." The law group, which is representing Abedini's family back in America, noted that he has been allowed a brief visit with his family in Evin Prison in Tehran, where he has been kept since his arrest in September 2012. He was sentenced in January to eight years in prison for "endangering national security," but the ACLJ says all he was doing was building an orphanage for children in Iran. Abedini, who became a U.S. citizen in 2010, revealed that he has been beaten severely by prison guards who want him to convert back to Islam and abandon his Christian faith. The pastor has been suffering from internal bleeding, and has been told it would be two months before he receives proper medical care. 

Islamic Council Proposes Death Penalty for Apostates in Morocco

The Supreme Ulema Council in Morocco, a body of Islamic scholars headed by King Mohammed VI, published a fatwa in the Arabic-language daily Akhbar al-Youm this week declaring that Muslims who renounce their faith "should be condemned to death," International Christian Concern reports. Christians are concerned that the edict, which has sparked controversy in the country, will be used to "harass" and "harm" the church if approved. The Supreme Ulema Council, the only institution entitled to issue fatwas in Morocco, reportedly drafted the edict in April 2012, but only recently published it. Mahjoub El Hiba, a senior human rights official in the Moroccan government, denies that the government received a fatwa on apostasy, as Akhbar al-Youm had claimed. Yet media reports on the fatwa have provoked strong reactions from rights activists and religious minorities, including Christians, in the country. "There's a lot of confusion and discussion in Morocco right now about the fatwa," said a pastor near Marrakech. "We fear that if the fatwa is approved, the government will use it to harass us and even arrest us during our meetings and the fundamentalists will have an excuse to harm us." While apostasy is illegal in many Muslim countries and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, Moroccan law does not directly prohibit it. Article 220 of Morocco's Penal Code does state, however, that "attempting to undermine the faith of a Muslim or convert him to another religion" is punishable with six months to three years in prison.

Defense Rests: Gosnell Won't Testify in Abortion-Murder Trial

The defense in the trial of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell rested without offering any witnesses on Wednesday, saying they did so for "strategic reasons," reports. On Wednesday, Gosnell's defense attorney, Jack McMahon, had secured three charges dropped from the case for the murder of babies born alive. Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge Jeffrey P. Minehart dropped three first-degree murder charges against Gosnell, as well as five charges of "abuse of a corpse" for baby feet remains that Gosnell kept in jars, which were recovered from his Women's Medical Society clinic. Gosnell, 72, is still facing four counts of first-degree murder for the killing of babies born alive after abortions, and a third-degree murder charge in the overdose death of a mother. He is also charged with infanticide, conspiracy, abortion at 24 or more weeks, theft, corruption of minors, solicitation and other related offenses. During the trial, witnesses have testified that babies at Gosnell's clinic in West Philadelphia were routinely born alive, sometimes in the toilet or on the floor, surviving abortions only to have their spinal cords severed with surgical scissors. The grand jury report presented in the case said that Gosnell murdered "hundreds" of born babies over the years. Court will resume on Monday with closing arguments. 

Copts Call on Obama to Speak Out on Christian Persecution in Egypt

American Coptic Christians gathered in front of the White House last week to demand justice for Egyptian Christians, CBN News reports. The protesters say the United States should do more to pressure the Egyptian government to protect the Christian minority from increasing attacks. "We need justice! Obama, Obama, where are you?" said one demonstrator. The protesters also urged Christians around the world to pray and stand with them. "We don't want to see what happened in other countries in the Middle East also happen in Egypt," one said. "We need to come together as one and push to allow Coptic Christians to remain in Egypt. Again, they are the indigenous people of Egypt and they have a right to remain there." Tens of thousands of Coptic Christians have fled Egypt in the past two years.

Publication date: April 26, 2013