Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Iranian Authorities Shut Church in Tehran
- Creflo Dollar's Daughter's 911 Call: Not the First Time It's Happened
- Lee Greenwood Offended by 'God Bless the USA' Ban
- New Research on Children of Same-Sex Parents Suggests Differences Matter
Iranian Authorities Shut Church in Tehran
Iran's Revolutionary Guard's intelligence branch last week ordered the closure of a church in the capital, Tehran, amid a government campaign to crack down on the few recognized churches offering Farsi-speaking services, Compass Direct News reports. The church in Tehran's northwestern district of Janat-Abad belongs to the Assemblies of God (AOG) Church in Iran. "Due to an increasing number of Farsi-speaking believers -- mostly MBBs [Muslim Background Believers] -- it has become a cause of concern for the authorities and they now ordered it to be shut down," said Monsour Borji, an Iranian Christian and advocacy officer for the London-based rights initiative Article 18. If no reverse decision is made, the church will close its doors immediately, and only three churches will remain in Tehran offering Farsi-language services: the AOG Central Church of Tehran, Emmanuel Protestant Church and St. Peter's Evangelical Church. Though Emmanuel Protestant Church and St. Peter's Evangelical Church were ordered to shut down Friday services in February, they have continued to offer Sunday services in Farsi.
Creflo Dollar's Daughter's 911 Call: Not the First Time It's Happened
In an audio tape of the 911 call made by megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar's 15-year-old daughter early Friday, she told the operator she was punched and choked by her father and that it wasn't the first time such an incident had happened, the Christian Post reports. "I just got an altercation with my father," the girl is heard telling the operator. "He punched me and ... [inaudible] choked me. It's not the first time it's happened. I feel threatened by being in this house." Dollar's daughter told the operator they were arguing about her going to a party on Saturday. When she started crying and told him, "I do not want to talk to you," he allegedly started to get physical. "He came, put his arm around my neck, choked me and bent me over the table," the girl said. "I threw him off of me. He threw me on the ground and punched me in my face. And this is going on for a good two, three minutes. And my mom came in the room and he stopped. And then my mom asked him what happened and he said that I hit him first, which is a lie." Creflo Dollar, who was arrested Friday then released on $5,000 bail, has admitted to "spanking" his daughter, according to the police report. He told a deputy that after she became disrespectful, he tried to restrain her. He said when she began hitting him, he reportedly wrestled her to the floor and spanked her bottom and the back of her legs. On Sunday, Dollar denied before his 30,000-member World Changers Church International punching or choking his daughter. "The truth is that a conversation with our daughter got emotional and things escalated from there," he said. "I should have never been arrested."
Lee Greenwood Offended by 'God Bless the USA' Ban
Kindergarten students at a New York City elementary school were recently banned from performing the song "God Bless the USA" at their June 20 graduation ceremony after principal Greta Hawkins said the song was not age-appropriate and could end up "offending other cultures" -- but the song's author, country music artist Lee Greenwood, said he was offended by Hawkins' decision, CBN News reports. "I wrote 'God Bless the USA' about the love I have for this country and the struggle we have gone through to remain free," Greenwood said. "Personally, denying the children of PS 90 to sing 'God Bless the USA' offends me as a Christian. My song is about hope, faith, spirit and pride. How could that be wrong on any level?" Meanwhile, the American Center for Law and Justice is working to have the song ban reversed, saying banning the song violates First Amendment free speech rights. More than 23,000 people signed a petition in favor of the song being performed, which was sent, along with a letter from the ACLJ, to the school superintendent, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and several other school officials.
New Research on Children of Same-Sex Parents Suggests Differences Matter
A number of studies and articles have suggested that research shows no difference in outcome between children whose parents have same-sex relationships and those raised by heterosexual parents, but two peer-reviewed articles published Sunday in the academic journal Social Science Research challenge the validity of the "no difference" assertion, the Heritage Foundation reports. One study, conducted by a Louisiana State University family scholar, concluded that data from previous research showing no difference in outcomes between children with gay parents and those with heterosexual parents was insufficient to support a strong generalizable claim either way. To make a generalizable claim, many representative, large-sample studies are needed -- such as the one supplied in the New Family Structures Study, conducted by a University of Texas-Austin sociologist. The NFSS screened more than 15,000 young adults (ages 18 to 39) nationwide to identify nearly 3,000 participants, including 175 respondents whose mothers had a romantic same-sex relationship and 73 whose fathers had. The results showed that young adults whose mothers or fathers had a same-sex relationship tended to fare worse than their peers in intact biological families. Those whose mothers had a same-sex relationship were far more likely to report being sexually victimized, to be on welfare or to be currently unemployed, and those whose fathers had one were significantly more likely to have contemplated suicide, to have a sexually transmitted infection or to have been forced to have sex against their will.
Publication date: June 15, 2012