Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.
In today's edition:
- Vatican Blasts FDA over Stem Cell Ruling
- Christians Bring Relief as Pakistan Floods Kill Over 1,200
- Iranian Officials Conduct Mass Arrest of New Christians
- With Asterisks, Kansas City Church Welcomes Sex Offenders
Vatican Blasts FDA over Stem Cell Ruling
Religion News Service reports that a top Vatican official has criticized a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to allow the world's first clinical trials using stem cells derived from human embryos. "Despite the efforts that are made to deny it, science continues to show us that the embryo is a human being in the making," Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for life, told Vatican Radio on July 31. He added that embryos would be "sacrificed to extract the stem cells," arguing "from an ethical point of view, (it) can only receive a negative judgment." California-based Geron Corp. announced Friday the FDA had given it a green light to carry out tests on volunteer patients who are paralyzed by spinal cord injuries. The Vatican views stem cells drawn from human embryos as a form of abortion, arguing it destroys another form of nascent human life.
Christians Bring Relief as Pakistan Floods Kill Over 1,200
Christian Today reports that aid groups are trying to reach the 1.5 million Pakistanis who have been affected by devastating monsoon rains in the north-west. At least 1,200 people have died in the flooding, and some estimate that toll could increase to 3,000. Christian aid group Church World Service says the flooding far exceeds normal seasonal rainfall. The group is distributing food packages and temporary shelter material, and is struggling "to be good stewards of limited available resources." World Vision, another aid group, says the widespread flooding increases the risk of water-born illness. "There is now a real danger of the spread of water-borne diseases and possibly cholera, as well as complications such as respiratory problems and skin allergies," said Shaharyar Bangash, World Vision's program manager, from Peshawar.
Iranian Officials Conduct Mass Arrest of New Christians
ASSIST News Service reports that government security forces in northern Iran recently rounded up and arrested a group of new believers. On July 18, a group of 15 newly-converted Christians were traveling to the town of Bojnoord to meet and fellowship with other believers when they were arrested in Masshad city, in the north-eastern province of Khorasan. Thirteen of the Christians were released after one week, when they agreed to sign promissory notes and post bail. Two others, 48-year-old Reza and 23-year-old Ehsan Behrooz, did not agree to sign any forms and post bail, and remain in detention. Their families say they don't know where the two are being held, and have only spoken to their relatives a couple times over the phone.
With Asterisk, Kansas City Church Welcomes Sex Offenders
The Kansas City Star reports that one church in Kansas is trying to welcome registered sex offenders with open arms - and open eyes. One man, convicted of child pornography, received an email from security officers at a Leawood megachurch a few days after attending. He could continue to worship at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, but was not allowed to come early to the service or stay afterwards. He was also expressly forbidden to enter the children's wing of the church. "While we're a very inclusive church family, at the same time, we feel we have a responsibility to have a safe environment for our members and visitors," said Peter Metz, communications director for the Church of the Resurrection. "It's a practical solution, much better than denying them access to the church."