Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Imam Offers Reward for Killing of Christian Woman
- Two More Christians Killed in Baghdad
- Clergy's Professional Reputation Hovers in the Middle
- 2 in 5 Pastors Believe Obama Is a Christian
Imam Offers Reward for Killing of Christian Woman
Open Doors USA has called for prayers for an imprisoned Christian woman in Pakistan after a hard-line Islamic imam offered a $6,000 reward for her murder. Asia Bibi was convicted of blasphemy last month and sentenced to death, drawing international attention to Pakistan's twisted blasphemy laws. The courts have prevented her pardon so long as the case remains in the appeals process. Last Saturday Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities Shabaz Bhatti condemned the announcement of the reward for killing Noreen and stated "every legal and constitutional means will be adopted" in her case. There are reports the Noreen case has already triggered threats on Christian churches, schools and hospitals by Islamic extremists. Christian relief centers set up for victims of the devastating Pakistani floods this summer have also been threatened.
Two More Christians Killed in Baghdad
Two more Christians were killed in Baghdad on Sunday evening, continuing a streak of deadly, anti-Christian violence in the country. Christian Today reports that gunmen shot and killed an elderly Christian couple in their home in Baladiyat, a predominantly Shiite area in eastern Baghdad. Extremists have killed dozens of Christians since late October, accelerating the religious minority's flight from the country. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, tried to encourage Iraqi believers in Rome last month, when several survivors of previous attacks were in attendance. "The church in fact does not diminish with persecution, rather it develops, and the Lord's field is enhanced by a more abundant harvest, when the grains of wheat which have fallen one by one, are reborn and multiply," he said.
Clergy's Professional Reputation Hovers in the Middle
According to American adults, nurses, soldiers, pharmacists, elementary school teachers, doctors, and police officers are all more ethical and honest than members of the clergy. The results of a Gallup survey show that slightly more than half of Americans (53 percent) rate the moral values of priests, ministers and other clerics as "very high" or "high." Religion News Service reports that this percentage is a slight bump from 2009, when only 50 percent of Americans said men and women of the cloth are ethical paragons, the lowest number in Gallup's 32 years of measuring professional reputations. Before the Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in 2002, two-thirds of Americans had regularly approved of ministers' morals, according to Gallup. "Stability is generally the norm in Americans' ratings of the honesty and ethics of professions, but Americans' opinions do shift in response to real-world events, mostly scandals, that reflect poorly on a profession," Gallup said.
2 in 5 Pastors Believe Obama Is a Christian
Glenn Beck may have a political following among conservative Christians, but most Protestant pastors aren't looking to him as a spiritual leader, according to a new LifeWay research survey. The Christian Post reports that, in a survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors, only 27 percent consider Beck a Christian. The survey also asked about Oprah Winfrey, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama. Just 19 percent think Winfrey is a Christian. "Most Americans consider themselves Christian and, for many of them, the Oprahfication of American spirituality has been a good thing," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. "Yet, the overwhelming majority of Protestant pastors don't view Oprah as a Christian." Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said they believe Bush is a Christian, and 66 percent believe Palin is a Christian. Only two in five pastors (41 percent) believe the president is a Christian.