Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Iran Sentences American Pastor Saeed Abedini to Eight Years in Prison
- Stanford Law Opens Country's First Religious Liberty Legal Clinic
- Creflo Dollar Free After Anger Management Training
- S.C. Episcopal Diocese Claims a Victory in Secession Struggle
Iran Sentences American Pastor Saeed Abedini to Eight Years in Prison
American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran on charges of evangelizing, was sentenced Sunday morning to eight years in prison, Fox News reports. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, Abedini was verbally sentenced in Tehran by Iran's infamous "hanging judge" to eight years in prison for threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in house churches. He will serve the time in Iran's notorious Evin Prison, known as one of the most brutal. The evidence was based on Abedini's activities primarily during the early 2000s, when house churches were not considered a threat in Iran, the ACLJ said. "With today's development I am devastated for my husband and my family," Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, said Sunday after learning about the court action. "We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil." ACLJ executive director Jordan Sekulow said: "Here's the troubling reality: we have a U.S. citizen, who has been beaten and tortured since his imprisonment last fall, now facing eight years in Evin Prison, one of the must brutal prisons in Iran. A harsh sentence in a notorious prison -- likely facing life-threatening torture and abuse at the hands of the Iranian regime. Simply because of his Christian faith."
Stanford Law Opens Country's First Religious Liberty Legal Clinic
As religious freedom litigation has ballooned in the United States, especially over the last year, Stanford Law School has opened the nation’s first legal clinic devoted exclusively to religious freedom cases, WORLD News Service reports. "It’s not needed because the United States is uniquely persecuting — it’s not," said former U.S. circuit judge Michael McConnell, a professor at Stanford Law who argues many religious liberty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. "I believe we are the freest and most welcoming country in the world … but we still need to fight and to think and to litigate and protect."
Creflo Dollar Free After Anger Management Training
Georgia megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar avoided a court appearance on charges that he assaulted his 15-year-old daughter last June, WORLD News Service reports. Instead, according to The Fayette County Citizen, "state court prosecutors allowed Dollar to enter a pre-trial intervention program which required him to complete an anger management program and pay $1,072 in fees and court costs." During the three-month program, Dollar had to meet regularly with a probation officer and avoid "violent contact" with others. Dollar is the of World Changers Church International, and was the subject of an investigation by the Senate Finance Committee several years ago.
S.C. Episcopal Diocese Claims a Victory in Secession Struggle
The breakaway Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has won the latest round in its fight to secede from the national church, the Religion News Service reports. A South Carolina judge on Jan. 23 issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the national church from using the name or seal of the diocese, which espouses a more traditional theology and disapproves of the national church's acceptance of same-sex marriage and gay bishops. The order, as diocesan officials understand it, essentially tells the national church it may not preside over the existing diocese. "We believe what the judge has said is what we have been saying for quite some time," said Jim Lewis, a top aide to Bishop Mark Lawrence. "The Episcopal Church is more than free to establish a new diocese in South Carolina. What the ruling says, though, is that they can't do that and claim to be us." Though 44 of the 71 parishes in the diocese support secession, according to the diocese, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has said that differences of opinion within the church should be tolerated but unilateral secession is not permitted. Secession must be approved by the church's General Convention, she said, which next meets in 2015.
Publication date: January 28, 2013