Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Kazakhstan Delays Implementation of New Religion Law
- Judge Rejects Atheist Challenge to Inaugural Prayer
- Christian Girls in Pakistan Rescued from Sex Slavery
- Churches Mark 25th Sanctity of Human Life Day
Kazakhstan Delays Implementation of New Religion Law
Mission News Network reports that Kazakhstan's president has not signed a restrictive religion bill yet, delaying its impact to Christians. According to Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association, the president referred the bill to the country's Constitutional Council for review. "Kazakhstan is supposed to assume the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010. And, of course, any member of the organization is supposed to adhere to basic human rights standards. Some think perhaps that might be possibly why he referred this to the constitutional court," Griffith said. The bill is similar to a new Kyrgyzstan law, as it restricts proselytizing and requires both parents' permission for a child to attend any religious event.
Judge Rejects Atheist Challenge to Inaugural Prayer
Religion News Service reports that a U.S. District judge on Thursday (Jan. 15) denied a California atheist's request to halt references to God at President-elect Obama's swearing-in on Jan. 20. "I think it's highly questionable that I have such authority," said Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after a two-hour hearing Thursday afternoon (Jan. 15). Walton did not dismiss the case, but denied Michael Newdow's request for a preliminary injunction, saying the "ceremonial speech" at the presidential inauguration is "in substance" no different from legislative prayers that the Supreme Court has permitted. Newdow, an emergency room physician, made his third attempt to have religious references at presidential inaugurations declared unconstitutional.
Christian Girls in Pakistan Rescued from Sex Slavery
Baptist Press reports that two Christian girls in Pakistan have been rescued after more than a month of captivity as sex slaves to Muslim lawyers in Karachi. According to International Christian Concern, a human rights organization, Parvisha Alam, 18, and her 14-year-old sister Sanam of Gujranwala, Pakistan, were abducted Nov. 12 by a neighbor, Mohammed Irfan, who offered them training in cosmetology and jobs in his beauty salon. When the girls arrived he drugged them. Over the next month, the girls were raped repeatedly by Irfan and then Muslim lawyers. They were released after Sanam gained access to a cell phone and called police. The U.S. State Department estimates that about 500,000 young women worldwide are sold into sex slavery each year.
Churches Mark 25th Sanctity of Human Life Day
Churches across the nation observed the National Sanctity of Human Life Day Sunday with speakers, marches and other pro-life events, the Christian Post reports. The day came just two days before the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, who has promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act early in his term. President Bush marked the 25th anniversary of National Sanctity of Human Life Day as a special holiday to recognize "each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world." He continued, "We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us."