Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 6, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 6, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Governor's Murder a ‘Great Loss' for Pakistan's Minorities
  • Iranian Christian's Father Released from Prison
  • Calif. War Memorial Cross Unconstitutional, Court Rules
  • India's Christians Suffer Spike in Assaults in Past Decade

Governor's Murder a ‘Great Loss' for Pakistan's Minorities

A Christian group has described the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer as an "act of terrorism" against Pakistan's Christians, according to Christian Today reports. Salman Taseer was killed on Tuesday by one of his bodyguards, who said he assassinated the governor for his vocal support of changes to Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Taseer was also an advocate for Asia Bibi, the first woman in Pakistan to recieve the death sentence for blasphemy. UK coordinator of The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), Nasir Saeed, said the murder signaled a "very dark day for Christians in Pakistan." He continued, "The killing is a terrorist act against the Christians of Pakistan and it is a serious attempt to stop any possible changes to the blasphemy law."

Iranian Christian's Father Released from Prison

ASSIST News Service reports that the father of a well-known Christian in Iran has been released and immediately transferred to a local hospital. Security agents reportedly entered Hashem Karimi's house on Dec.6 with the intention of arresting his son, Hossein Karimi. When they couldn't find the son, they arrested his father. In a television interview with Voice of America from Turkey, Hossein Karimi said his father has received harsh and violent treatment in prison. He said, "The prison authorities, due to my father's harsh and violent treatment received and also due to his critical physical condition, were forced to release him after 13 days. Immediately after his release, he was transferred to the hospital and until now he is in the ICU." Relatives say Hashem Karimi's body was covered with bruises on his arms, feet and abdomen. 

Calif. War Memorial Cross Unconstitutional, Court Rules

The Christian Post reports that a memorial cross honoring fallen soldiers is unconstitutional, a three-judge appeals panel of the 9th Circuit Court ruled Tuesday. Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Joe Infranco labeled the ruling in Trunk v. City of San Diego a tragedy. "It's tragic that the court chose a twisted and tired interpretation of the First Amendment over the common-sense idea that the families of fallen American troops should be allowed to honor these heroes as they choose," he said in a statement. The Mt. Soledad memorial cross was erected in 1954 along with six concentric walls bearing the names of Korean, World War I and II veterans. In 2008, U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns said the cross did not violate the separation of church and state.

India's Christians Suffer Spike in Assaults in Past Decade

Christians in India faced a spike in attacks in the past decade, suffering more than 130 assaults a year since 2001. Figures from 2007 and 2008 far surpass even that number, Compass Direct News reports. This year Christians suffered at least 149 violent attacks, according to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI). Most of the incidents took place in just four states: Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in south India, and two neighboring states in north-central India, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Of India's 23 million Christians, 2.7 million live in these four states. In 2009 there were more than 152 attacks across India. Three of the four states with the most persecution of Christians - Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh - are ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the EFI noted that the high number of attacks on Christians in those states was no coincidence. "While it cannot be said that the ruling party had a direct role in the attacks on Christians, its complicity cannot be ruled out either," the report stated.