Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Longer Lifespan Lets People Delay Religion, Study Finds
- Blasphemy Trial of Iranian Christians Postponed Yet Again
- Suspected Islamists Attack Pakistan Church a Second Time
- Anglicans Tighten Rules to Prevent Sham Marriages
Longer Lifespan Lets People Delay Religion, Study Finds
As life expectancies in the developed world lengthen, people feel less pressure to make peace with God, according to a new study. "Many religions and societies link to some degree the cumulative amount of religious effort to benefits in the afterlife," Elissaios Papyrakis, an economist at the University of East Anglia and one of the study's authors, told Postmedia News. "We show that higher life expectancy discounts expected benefits in the afterlife and is therefore likely to lead to postponement of religiosity, without necessarily jeopardizing benefits in the afterlife." For instance, data from between 2005 and 2007 from Statistics Canada showed the average life expectancy in Canada is 80.7 years of age, up from 78.4 a decade earlier.
Blasphemy Trial of Iranian Christians Postponed Yet Again
The blasphemy trial of members of the Church of Iran, which was adjourned on April 5 to give the prosecution more time to gather evidence, has been adjourned once again. The delay is supposed to allow prosecutors to seek the assistance of Iran’s traditional churches in determining their guilt. Christian Solidarity Worldwide has learned that in addition to Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj, and Nazly Beliad, a sixth Iranian Christian, Amin Afsharmanesh, is also standing trial on blasphemy charges. In an earlier trial at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, the six members of the evangelical Church of Iran denomination were handed a one-year sentence for Crimes against the Islamic Order, which their legal team believes will be withdrawn on appeal.
Suspected Islamists Attack Pakistan Church a Second Time
ASSIST News Service reports that suspected Muslim militants once again targeted the Sarhadi Lutheran Church in the city Mardan in Pakistan's Khyberpakhtunkhwa province. The area is a hotbed of Islamic extremism. The church was first attacked on Sept. 13, 2010. This second attack occurred just lack week, on April 9, when a time bomb was placed by the church. The Rev. Ghulam Shad, pastor of the targeted Lutheran Church, said that the explosion from the time controlled explosive device “could be heard all over the Mardan city.” He added that an iron gate at the main entrance was uprooted by the intensity of the bomb and that “the bomb’s shock waves shattered the church’s window panes.” The Rev. Shad said that he was “grateful to God that no one [from the church] was injured or killed in “the big explosion."
Anglicans Tighten Rules to Prevent Sham Marriages
Couples suspected of using their wedding vows as a ruse to skirt immigration laws will be required to meet strict identity checks and face greater scrutiny under new Church of England guidelines to stop sham marriages. Religion News Service reports that the guidelines announced Tuesday target the practice of some vicars conspiring in fake weddings between British nationals and illegal immigrants as a means toward gaining legal residency. The church directives place the onus on clergy and legal officers to help stop the scam that has resulted in 155 police arrests around the country. In one case, one vicar was sentenced to four years in prison for his involvement in a sham marriage ring that helped hundreds of illegal immigrants remain in Britain.