Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Iran: Pastor Nadarkhani Released, Imprisoned Lawyer's Health Deteriorates
- Egypt's Morsi Boosts Islamic Presence in Cabinet
- Obama Pushes for New Gun Control Measures
- Federal Food Stamp Program Spent Record $80.4 Billion in Fiscal Year 2012
Iran: Pastor Nadarkhani Released, Imprisoned Lawyer's Health Deteriorates
Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who was re-imprisoned on Christmas Day, was released Jan. 7, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. In September 2012, Pastor Nadarkhani was acquitted of apostasy but received a three-year sentence for evangelizing Muslims. Since he had already spent close to three years in Lakan Prison in Rasht, the pastor was released after posting bail. However, in a highly irregular move, he was returned to jail on Christmas Day on the orders of prison authorities, who claimed he had been released too early due to the insistence of his lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah. Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer, was subsequently jailed for 10 years and disbarred in September 2012 for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime" and keeping banned books in his home. He was also banned from practicing or teaching law for 10 years. Dadkhah is currently being held in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, and concerns have been expressed for his well-being following reports that he is suffering from memory loss and is under pressure to make a televised confession of guilt.
Egypt's Morsi Boosts Islamic Presence in Cabinet
Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi appointed Islamists to key cabinet posts over the weekend, bringing new parts of the government under Muslim Brotherhood control, CBN News reports. Morsi swore in 10 new ministers in total, and handed the role of finance minister to an Islamic finance expert. According to Reuters, Morsi is taking steps to attempt to rebuild confidence in Egypt's economy ahead of a visit from the International Monetary Fund. The country's currency value has plunged more than 10 percent since the 2011 uprising brought the Muslim Brotherhood into power, and Egypt is seeking a $4.8 billion loan from the IMF to stop the currency crisis. Meanwhile, Egypt's minority Coptic Christians continue to flee the country as Islamists gain more control and persecution rises.
Obama Pushes for New Gun Control Measures
President Barack Obama plans to put his "full weight" behind the push for new gun control legislation in the aftermath of the shooting in Newtown, Conn., WORLD News Service reports. During an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, the president said he would make the new legislation one of his top priorities in 2013. Obama, who appointed Vice President Joe Biden to head a committee that will make recommendations about gun control measures and other safety initiatives in January, also said he planned to rally the American people to support the legislative effort. "I think there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognize that we can't have a situation in which somebody with severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high-capacity weapons that this individual in Newtown obtained and gun down our kids," Obama said. But National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, who appeared on Meet the Press before Christmas, said blaming guns for violence won't solve the problem. "You can't legislate morality," he said. "Legislation works on the sane. Legislation works on the law-abiding. It doesn't work on criminals. ... There are monsters out there every day, and we need to do something to stop them."
Federal Food Stamp Program Spent Record $80.4 Billion in Fiscal Year 2012
During fiscal year 2012, the U.S. government spent a record $80.4 billion on food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a $2.7 billion increase from fiscal year 2011, CNSNews.com reports. According to the Monthly Treasury Statement that summarizes the receipts and outlays of the federal government, $80,401,000,000 went toward SNAP during FY 2012, compared to $77,637,000,000 in FY 2011. The SNAP program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which also runs other food assistance programs under the auspices of the Food and Nutrition Service Agency. In total, nearly $106 billion was spent on food assistance in 2012, with $18.3 billion that went to "Child Nutrition Programs." Total federal spending on SNAP has increased each year during President Obama's first term in office. In FY 2009, when SNAP was still known as the "Food Stamp" program, the government spent approximately $55.6 billion. By FY 2010, SNAP spending increased to nearly $70.5 billion. Between FY 2009 and FY 2012, SNAP's budget jumped by approximately $24.8 billion.
Publication date: January 8, 2013