Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- New Worries for Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani as Attorney is Headed to Prison
- Wycliffe Responds to Criticism of Bible Translations for Muslim Readers
- Planned Parenthood Funding Ban Becomes Law in Arizona
- Low Birthrate Expected to Continue in China
New Worries for Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani as Attorney is Headed to Prison
Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's attorney -- called by many a hero for his representation of religious minorities -- may find himself serving a nine-year prison sentence soon, leaving Nadarkhani without a lawyer, Baptist Press reports. Attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah -- a Muslim -- said he was convicted of acting against national security, spreading propaganda and keeping banned books at home. He has represented Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity, since the case began in 2009. "This development only reinforces the fact that Iran has no regard for basic human rights," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice. "It also raises further concern about the fate of Pastor Youcef. With his attorney facing nine years in prison, and no other lawyer likely to take the case, Pastor Youcef has no legal advocate, which places him at greater risk." Dadkhah previously told the ACLJ that if he himself were jailed, "no attorney would be willing" to take Nadarkhani's case for fear of "being imprisoned or disbarred" for representing him. Dadkhah represented 12 Christians in Iran in April who had been charged with several crimes, including apostasy, or leaving Islam.
Wycliffe Responds to Criticism of Bible Translations for Muslim Readers
With the help of the World Evangelical Alliance, Wycliffe Bible Translators is reviewing a controversial translation of Scripture which was designed to help Muslims understand the nature of God, ASSIST News Service reports. In various translations, "God the Father" and "Son of God" were replaced with the Arabic equivalents of "Lord" and "Messiah," because, according to Wycliffe president and CEO Bob Creson, "there is sometimes a misunderstanding" in Islamic cultures "when you translate directly or use common terms [such as] 'Son of God' that God the Father actually had a sexual relationship with Mary to produce his Son, Jesus." After controversy about the translation, Wycliffe has submitted to an independent review of its work by a panel appointed by the World Evangelical Alliance. Meanwhile, it will discontinue publishing the translations in question, Creson said. While Wycliffe maintains it is trying to present the gospel message to a diverse array of audiences, some say that is no excuse. "We should not change the words of the Bible in order to accommodate a particular religious group," said Dr. Barrett Duke of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. "The Spirit inspired those words. The Spirit gave them to the writers for a specific reason. ... If the Spirit of God wasn't troubled with using these terms, we shouldn't be either, and we need to lay out the Trinitarian nature of God for all cultures and all people."
Planned Parenthood Funding Ban Becomes Law in Arizona
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a measure preventing Planned Parenthood from accessing taxpayer money for non-abortion services in Arizona, CBN News reports. Already in Arizona, public money can't be used for abortions except to save the life of the mother, but pro-life legislators and supporters of the new law say it is needed to make sure no taxpayer money indirectly supports abortion services. Planned Parenthood Arizona says the funding ban will "interrupt its preventative health care and family planning services," and the organization is considering a legal challenge. The law is just one of several pro-life bills Brewer has recently signed, including a measure decreeing that abortion providers cannot qualify for a tax credit given to the working poor, a bill banning "wrongful cause of life" lawsuits against doctors who fail to diagnose birth defects in unborn children, and a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Low Birthrate Expected to Continue in China
China, the world's most populous country, expects to keep its low birthrate and maintain a population of fewer than 1.4 billion through 2015, according to its latest five-year plan issued by the State Council, Baptist Press reports. At the end of 2011, China had more than 1.34 billion people. The communist nation has prevented a larger population through its coercive population-control program for more than 30 years -- known as the one-child policy -- which has resulted in many reports of forced abortions, sterilizations and infanticide and produced a gender imbalance because of the Chinese preference for sons. The State Council report said in five years there will be more than 200 million people over 60, while the labor force will begin declining steadily after it peaks during the next five years. That could result in massive government spending on pensions and health by about 2028, said Lu Jiehua, a sociology professor at Peking University. China Daily reported April 11 that police in Hubei province broke up a ring believed to be conducting an illegal ultrasound operation -- charging for the tests in order to identify the sex for mothers who wanted to abort girls.
Publication date: May 9, 2012