Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Fort Worth, Texas, Bans Religious, Atheist Bus Ads
- New York Mosque Named Top Religion Story of 2010
- At UN, US Raises Concern for Welfare of Iraqi Christians
- 10 Iranian House Church Members Arrested
Fort Worth, Texas, Bans Religious, Atheist Bus Ads
Believers and atheists will receive equal treatment in Fort Worth, Texas, after the New Year, when a ban preventing either group from using billboard messages goes into effect. The Houston Chronicle reports that the ban comes after an atheist bus ad campaign sparked a counter-campaign from area churches. The atheists' "Good without God" campaign ran on just four of the city's 150 buses, but motivated some pastors to call for a boycott of public transportation. Several transit employees also refused to drive the buses. Terry McDonald, the coalition's organizer, called the new ban a "secular victory" as it prevents local churches from taking out bus ads. While some ministers support the transit authority's ban as a compromise, not all secular groups or religious leaders do.
New York Mosque Named Top Religion Story of 2010
The protracted and contentious debate over plans to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York was the top religion story of 2010, according to a survey of religion journalists. Religion News Service reports that the imam piloting the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, was voted the Religion Newswriters Association's top newsmaker of 2010, besting Pope Benedict XVI, Sarah Palin, and aid workers in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Though the mosque project, known as Park51, is far from completion, the story dominated headlines for weeks, especially as the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 approached. President Obama weighed in, saying Muslims have a right to build houses of worship, but other political leaders called the proposal insensitive to Americans still grieving over the loss of friends and family.
At UN, US Raises Concern for Welfare of Iraqi Christians
Christians in Iraq received a smattering of attention from the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, when the Council discussed lifting key sanctions against Iraq. According to The Christian Post, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden commended Iraqi forces for securing the country, but noted that "Attacks by extremists remain an unacceptable aspect of daily life in Iraq." He continued, "We're particularly concerned about recent attempts to target innocents because of their faith, including both Christians and Muslims, and to lash out at security forces working to keep the country safe." AsiaNews reports that over the weekend, the United Nations Commission for Refugees condemned the forced repatriation of five Iraqi Christians by the Swedish government after the group sought asylum in Sweden.
10 Iranian House Church Members Arrested
Ten members of a home fellowship in Iran were arrested on Nov. 14 when security officials swept their meeting place, ASSIST News Service reports. Two of the Christians, Mohammad Mohammadi and Ali Keshavarz, are still in detention without charge and have not been allowed to contact their families. Officials reportedly waited until all Christians in the town of Varamin in Tehran province were gathered at Mohammadi's house before they intruded. They confiscated and took away a few Bibles, Christian literature, and a personal computer. Mohammadi's wife and seven-year-old son were freed with conditions at an intelligence office, but all the others were allegedly interrogated for several hours.