Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Senate Considers Resolution Condemning Iran for Imprisoning Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
- Evangelical Leaders Divided on Obama's New Immigration Policy
- Iranian Christian Released After Year-Long Imprisonment for Evangelizing
- Nativity Scenes Banned at Santa Monica Park After Atheist Dispute
Senate Considers Resolution Condemning Iran for Imprisoning Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
The U.S. Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), unanimously approved on June 19 a resolution calling for the exoneration and immediate release of imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the American Center for Law and Justice reports. With the committee's passage of S.Res. 385, sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, the measure will now be sent to the Senate floor to be considered by the full Senate. More than 120,000 people have signed an ACLJ petition to the Senate asking for unanimous approval of the resolution. "It is time for the full Senate to stand for religious freedom and with Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani," the ACLJ said in a press release. Pastor Nadarkhani is approaching his 1,000th day in jail on July 8, 2012, his only crime his faith in Jesus Christ.
Evangelical Leaders Divided on Obama's New Immigration Policy
Just a few days before President Obama issued an executive order allowing up to 800,000 illegal immigrants under age 30 to apply for work authorization -- a decision some are calling "back-door amnesty" -- the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) released a statement signed by more than 100 faith leaders calling for legislatively enacted immigration reforms that help keep families together. However, the president's plan divided the group, WORLD News Service reports. NAE president Leith Anderson seemed to support Obama's announcement, calling it "the right thing to do," but Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery criticized it, not because it is "back-door amnesty," but because it allows young immigrants to stay in the country while their parents are deported. Meanwhile, Reps. David Shweikert and Ben Quayle, both Arizona Republicans, filed separate bills to prevent what Quayle dubbed the "Back-Door Amnesty Act of 2012." Quayle said: "This end-run around Congress was a direct rebuke to the principle of three co-equal branches of government ... and more broadly, our entire system of laws. It's time for Congress to send a loud and clear message to the Obama administration that its efforts to circumvent the legislative branch and ignore our nation's laws will not stand."
Iranian Christian Released After Year-Long Imprisonment for Evangelizing
An Iranian Christian man who served about a year in prison for sharing his faith was released on June 10, Mission Network News reports. Mehdi "Petros" Foroutan, 27, was one of five Iranian Christians and ministers convicted of blasphemy and crimes against national security on March 8, 2011 for telling Muslims the truth about Jesus Christ. Although the judge ruled that the five were not guilty, the prosecutor appealed the verdict. Foroutan's time spent in prison was difficult and he was put in solitary confinement for a period about a month into his sentence. Although it is one small victory for the persecuted church in Iran, many others remain imprisoned for their faith -- including Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani on death row in Rasht, Iran.
Nativity Scenes Banned at Santa Monica Park After Atheist Dispute
The city council of Santa Monica, Calif., has voted to half unattended private displays in a public park after a fight last year between atheists and Christians who had set up Nativity scenes for decades, the Religion News Service reports. The June 12 vote came after the city first attempted to end holiday disputes by creating a lottery system in 2011 -- which resulted in atheists receiving all but three of the allotted 21 spaces for displays. Christians, who had previously used 14 spots, received two and an Orthodox Jew was given the other. "The city lacked the will to come up with a creative solution to the problem of accommodating the anti-religion agitators and caved in to their demands to remove a universally cherished symbol of the Christmas season from its traditional place in Palisades Park," said William J. Becker, Jr., a lawyer who represented the group seeking to maintain Nativity scenes in the park. However, the Freedom From Religion Foundation hailed the decision. "We want to congratulate the local freethinkers who played the religious game and outsmarted the churches," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, the organization's co-president.
Publication date: June 21, 2012