Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 7, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 7, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • As Cuban Economy Sputters, Evangelicals Rise
  • Pakistan Will Not Amend Blasphemy Law
  • Church in Egypt Bombed, Security Officials Say
  • Valentine's Day Dinners to Support Persecuted Women

As Cuban Economy Sputters, Evangelicals Rise

Christians in Cuba are increasingly going public with their faith as the country confronts hard economic times. "The crisis is an opportunity for faith," said Pastor Marcial Miguel Hernandez, president of Cuba's National Council of Churches. "Crisis is God's opportunity for the church to show its solidarity and love for our neighbor." Cuba is expected to cut more than a million government jobs, or about one-tenth of the workforce. Churches hope to provide some financial support as well as hope for those who will be cut. "You can't be romantic about the situation," Hernandez told CNN. "There are going to be a million people, maybe more, who will be unemployed. The church is getting ready for this."

Pakistan Will Not Amend Blasphemy Law

Christians and other minorities in Pakistan have learned that their government will not be amending the country's controversial blasphemy law. ASSIST News Service reports the decision follows massive protests by Islamic and mainstream opposition parties against any changes. The protestors had demanded that the Pakistani government makes clear its stance over the issue of blasphemy law, which uses its penal code to prohibit and punish blasphemy against Islam. Christians say the law is used arbitrarily and with little evidence to discriminate against them. An accusation of blasphemy commonly subjects the accused, police, lawyers, and judges to harassment, threats, and attacks.

Church in Egypt Bombed, Security Officials Say

Coptic Christians saw their fears confirmed Saturday when an empty church was bombed in Egypt. According to The Christian Post, no one was injured and the church sustained minimal damage. The explosion follows almost two weeks of protests in Egypt calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Christians have ceased meeting in their churches during that time, fearing for their safety amid the unrest. Christians, who make up eight to 12 percent of the population, have been calling for more protection from the state. Amid the ongoing protests, they are praying for a new Egypt, with democracy and freedom for the persecuted minority.

Valentine's Day Dinners to Support Persecuted Women

Release International is encouraging women in Britain to remember those suffering for their faith this Valentine's Day with a special dinner. "We're aiming to get back to the real meaning of Valentine's Day," said organizer Emma Dipper, of Release:women. Christian Today reports that "Love, St. Valentine" dinners will highlight the persecution still being experienced by Christian women in different parts of the world. They include Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy, and women separated from husbands and other family members because they have been imprisoned for being Christians. Tradition honors Valentinus as a church leader who secretly married couples despite an imperial ban, and also helped persecuted Christians.