Religion Today Summaries - August 1, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 1, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
 
In today's edition:

Judge Tosses Out San Francisco's Circumcision Referendum
House Church Alliance Leader in China Sentenced to Labor Camp
Cuba: Pastor Granted Asylum but Blocked from Leaving Country
Coalition Defends Charitable Giving


Judge Tosses Out San Francisco's Circumcision Referendum

According to Religion News Service, a proposed circumcision ban will not appear on San Francisco's citywide ballot in November, a Superior Court judge tentatively ruled Wednesday. Judge Loretta Giorgi has determined that as "a widely practiced medical procedure," circumcision cannot be banned by the city, since California law forbids municipalities from regulating medical procedures allowed by the state. She was expected to make the ruling official July 28 at a hearing on a lawsuit against the proposal. The proposed ban is an attempt by those who consider circumcision cruel and harmful to end the practice in the city for any male under 18. They were led by "intactivist" Lloyd Schofield. "Today's ruling is a win for religious liberty, a win for American values and a win for all San Franciscans," said Howie Beigelman of the Orthodox Union, the nation's largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella group.

House Church Alliance Leader in China Sentenced to Labor Camp

Authorities this week sentenced Shi Enhao, deputy leader of the Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA), to two years of “re-education through labor” – a sentence that requires no trial or conviction, according to the China Aid Association (CAA). Compass Direct News reports that Shi was officially charged with holding “illegal meetings and illegal organizing of venues for religious meetings,” due to his leadership of a house church movement of several thousand people meeting in several venues around Beijing, CAA reported. Zhang Mingxuan, president of the CHCA, has also faced multiple arrests and detentions since founding the alliance in 2005. Police have since ordered Shi’s church members to stop meeting for worship and confiscated musical instruments, choir robes and some 140,000 RMB (US$21,740) in church donations.

Cuba: Pastor Granted Asylum but Blocked from Leaving Country

A Cuban pastor who was imprisoned on bogus charges has been granted asylum by the United States, but refused permission to leave Cuba, ASSIST News Service reports. Omar Gude Perez is the second high-profile protestant pastor to be granted asylum in the US this year. Pastor Perez, who was imprisoned in May 2008, and his wife Kenia and their two children, learned on July 18 they had been granted asylum. However, two days later, Cuban immigration officials in Camaguey informed them they would not be issued exit visas. Authorities justified their decision to the family by saying Perez must serve out the remainder of his prison sentence in Cuba, despite the Cuban government allowing scores of political prisoners to go into exile last year without completing their sentences. As part of the conditions of his conditional freedom, Perez is prohibited from pastoral work, including preaching.

Coalition Defends Charitable Giving

According to World News Service, a coalition of 23 large non-profit organizations wrote a letter to Congress July 14 expressing concern that reducing or capping the value of itemized deductions for charitable contributions will hurt charities and those who need their services. The coalition’s letter, signed by the leaders of the organizations and sent to Senator Max Baucus, argues that proposed caps of itemized deductions at 28 percent will result in a decrease in charitable donations. Among the organizations involved in this coalition are the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, the American Red Cross, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and United Way Worldwide. The letter says that American charities are still hurt from the decrease in donations during the 2008-2009 recession. The IRS reported a drop of 20 percent in giving during those years.

 

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