Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- United Nations Urged to Call on Iran to Release Imprisoned American Pastor
- Obama Presses for More Spending, Gun Control
- LGBT Catholic Groups Call for Gay-Friendly Pope to Succeed Benedict XVI
- New Jersey Assembly Panel Approves Assisted Suicide Ballot Initiative
United Nations Urged to Call on Iran to Release Imprisoned American Pastor
The American Center for Law and Justice announced Tuesday that its European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice, is urging the U.N. Human Rights Council to call on Iran to immediately release American pastor Saeed Abedini, who is serving a prison sentence because of his Christian faith, ASSIST News Service reports. In a document filed with the HRC in Geneva, the ECLJ specifically addressed Iran's violations of international law and human rights in the case of Abedini, a 32-year-old U.S. citizen who is serving an eight-year sentence in Iran's notorious Evin Prison. "This filing with the United Nations represents a significant step forward in generating the international attention and pressure needed to secure the freedom of Pastor Saeed," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ and senior counsel of the ECLJ. "By bringing his story before a global audience, it's our hope that member states and other organizations will become a strong voice for Pastor Saeed -- raising the visibility of this troubling case and putting additional pressure on Iran to free him."
Obama Presses for More Spending, Gun Control
President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address Tuesday night to press for more government spending, challenge Republicans over Medicare and declare that victims of gun violence "deserve a vote" on a sweeping gun control package, Fox News reports. Obama also included a call to increase the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, up from $7.25, to pass immigration reform and to expand early education to all 4-year-olds in the country. Though Obama stated, "Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime," Sen. Marco Rubio, R.-Fla, countered in the GOP response that Obama's solution "to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more." More government, Rubio said, will "hold you back."
LGBT Catholic Groups Call for Gay-Friendly Pope to Succeed Benedict XVI
Several LGBT Catholic groups are calling for a new gay-friendly pope following news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation as head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Christian Post reports. "For the last three decades, Benedict has been one of the main architects of the Vatican's policies against LGBT people," said New Ways Ministry, a gay-rights group that seeks to "build bridges" between the homosexual community and the Catholic Church. The group said it was praying for a new pope that would "combine his intelligence with true and deep pastoral concern for the lives of the people of the world." Hoping for a new pope that will be less conservative, the group added that they placed their trust in the Holy Spirit to "guide our church in the days and years to come." Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic groups working on behalf of LGBT people and their families, also expressed wishes for a new pope that would be more gay-friendly. The group insisted that the Catholic Church needed to take this opportunity "to turn away from his oppressive policies toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, and their families and friends."
New Jersey Assembly Panel Approves Assisted Suicide Ballot Initiative
An Assembly panel in New Jersey has approved a measure that would place the issue of assisted suicide on the state ballot, the Christian News Network reports. The 7-2 vote by the Health and Senior Services Committee means the bill -- entitled the Death With Dignity Act -- will now move on to the House and Senate and if approved, would be placed on the 2014 ballot for a vote by the people. The Death With Dignity Act would allow citizens that have been diagnosed as being terminally ill with six months or less to live to end their lives through a lethal dose of medication. The individuals would be required to have two doctors certify that their illness is terminal, and would be given an opportunity to recant their death wish before being given the prescription. Similar legislation was also introduced in the Connecticut legislature last week and approved unanimously in a Vermont Senate committee the prior week.
Publication date: February 14, 2013