Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Canada's Largest Protestant Denomination Elects Openly Gay Leader
- Tanzania: Christian Teen Sentenced to Two Years in Prison
- Amish Fastest-Growing U.S. Religious Group
- Germany Ponders More Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships
Canada's Largest Protestant Denomination Elects Openly Gay Leader
Canada's largest Protestant denomination elected its first openly gay leader at its 41st General Council on Thursday, Christianity Today reports. After nearly eight hours and six rounds of voting, the 350 members of the United Church of Canada selected Gary Paterson from a pool of 15 nominees, including three other openly gay candidates. "Among mainline denominations, as far as I know this is probably a first," Paterson told council members following the vote. According to the Ottawa Citizen, he "added that he was heartened that his sexuality had been a non-issue with those who voted." Paterson, who begins his three-year term August 18, will serve as the church's primary spokesman and preside over General Council meetings.
Tanzania: Christian Teen Sentenced to Two Years in Prison
A 17-year-old girl in Tanzania was sentenced to two years in prison after being accused of desecrating the Quran, Voice of the Martyrs reports. After Eva Abdullah converted from Islam to Christianity three years ago, her parents disowned her and a group of radicals in her hometown of Bagamoyo tried to persuade her to renounce her faith. When she refused, they falsely accused her of urinating on a Quran. Many Christian leaders were afraid to defend Eva because of Muslim dominance in the district, and on July 26, she was sentenced to two years in prison by a judge who was allegedly bribed by the Islamic militants. Tanzania has seen increased hostility to Christians because of radical Islamic influences.
Amish Fastest-Growing U.S. Religious Group
According to a new census by researchers from Ohio State University, the Amish are the fastest-growing religious group in America, WORLD News Service reports. The study, released July 27 at the Rural Sociological Society, says nearly 250,000 Amish now live in the U.S. and Canada, and the Amish double their population every 22 years. The growth can be attributed to the fact that Amish families have many children; some branches, such as the Old Order or "Wenger" Amish, average eight children per family. Another key component is that Amish children tend to remain within the faith when they reach adulthood. The U.S. states with the highest Amish populations are Ohio, with 60,000 Amish residents; Pennsylvania, with 59,000; and Indiana, with 25,000.
Germany Ponders More Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships
A group of lawmakers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats called this month for same-sex couples in civil partnerships to be given the same tax breaks as heterosexual married couples, WORLD News Service reports. This continues a trend in Europe toward legal recognition of same-sex relationships, but the idea faces skepticism among some of Merkel's traditionally-minded German colleagues, who may be wondering about the long-term effects of the European experiment with sexual radicalism. Granting same-sex couples the same income tax breaks enjoyed by heterosexual married couples would add to a string of departures from conservative orthodoxy under Merkel's leadership, which have included abandoning military conscription and speeding up Germany's exit from nuclear power. In Germany, same-sex couples have been able to register civil partnerships that legally fall short of formal marriage since 2001. Heterosexual married couples can, unlike same-sex couples, reduce their tax burden by filing joint income tax returns, thus paying less than single taxpayers.
Publication date: August 20, 2012