Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Alive, Execution Looming
- Judge: NYC Churches Can Meet in Schools
- Marco Rubio = (A) Catholic (B) Non-Denominational (C) Mormon (D) All of the Above
- Richard Dawkins Says He's Not Entirely Sure God Doesn't Exist
Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Alive, Execution Looming
Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian Christian pastor sentenced to death for "apostasy" and leaving Islam, was confirmed alive as of Sunday, FOX News reports. Iran's government backtracked over the weekend, saying that no execution order had been issued for Pastor Nadarkhani, and that he was being held not for apostasy but for rape and "other crimes," according to the Islamic Republic's state-run TV. Nadarkhani's attorneys said they believed the government toned down its rhetoric in response to an international outcry, but said his execution order still remained in effect. Nadarkhani's family and friends fear he could be executed at any time; death sentences in Iran are sometimes carried out immediately and sometimes dragged out for years, and often occur in secret. Around the world, human rights organizations continue to fight and petition for Nadarkhani's release.
Judge: NYC Churches Can Meet in Schools
A federal judge gave New York City churches a major victory Friday, issuing a preliminary injunction that will allow congregations to continue meeting in rented public school space while a lawsuit proceeds to overturn a NYC Department of Education rule preventing school buildings from being used for "religious worship services," Baptist Press reports. District judge Loretta Preska made it clear that all churches -- not just the named plaintiff, Bronx Household of Faith -- will be able to meet in schools. Unlike her previous order that was to last only 10 days, the latest ruling contains no expiration date, meaning it will remain in effect while the case proceeds -- or until a higher court decides differently. Represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, the Bronx Household of Faith contends the city's rule amounts to a constitutional violation toward churches, because the city allows non-religious groups to meet in schools.
Marco Rubio = (A) Catholic (B) Non-Denominational (C) Mormon (D) All of the Above?
According to a Buzzfeed exclusive, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, the Roman Catholic who attends a nondenominational church in Miami, was baptized with his family into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when he was 8 and remained active in the Mormon church for several years. He and his family ultimately returned to the Catholic church, but Rubio has never requested that his name be removed from the LDS rolls, meaning he is probably still technically considered a member. The revelation could complicate Rubio's political future at a time when many Republicans consider him a top pick for the 2012 vice presidential candidacy. Mitt Romney's Mormonism and Rubio's Catholicism would be the first two members of minority religious traditions on a Republican ticket in American history -- and Rubio's Mormon roots could further complicate the equation.
Richard Dawkins Says He's Not Entirely Sure God Doesn't Exist
Richard Dawkins, the controversial Oxford University professor billed by many as the "world's most famous atheist" now says he is not 100 percent sure God doesn't exist -- but just barely, the Religion News Service reports. In a debate with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams Feb. 23, Dawkins conceded a small bit of doubt that there was no such thing as a creator; the evolutionary biologist quickly added that he was "6.9 out of seven" certain of his long-standing atheist beliefs. "I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing [is] very, very low," he said. Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and other bestsellers, is a leader of the "new atheist" movement that aggressively challenges belief in God and religion. "What I can't understand is why you can't see [that life started from nothing] and is such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing, why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a God?" he said.
Publication date: February 28, 2012