Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Iranian Pastor's Death Sentence Upheld
- Top 3 Bodies in Christianity Issue Evangelism Rules
- Egyptian Court Dismisses Muslim Case against Christian Woman
- Pope Sends First Tweet on iPad
Iranian Pastor's Death Sentence Upheld
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has learned that an Iranian pastor's death sentence for the crime of apostasy will stand. House church pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was convicted in 2010. His sentence has reportedly been upheld by the third chamber of the Supreme Court in the Shia holy city of Qom. Nadarkhani of the Church of Iran denomination was arrested in October 2009 while attempting to register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran. He was initially charged with protesting, but the charges against him were later changed to apostasy and evangelizing Muslims. He has been held in Lakan prison since that time. The pastor’s lawyer filed an appeal on December 5, 2010, and had to wait for six months until the appeal hearing. However, the lawyer has confirmed that the appeal was unsuccessful, although so far there has been no official notification of this failure.
Top 3 Bodies in Christianity Issue Evangelism Rules
Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic leaders convened Tuesday in Geneva to announce the release of a historic document on the ethics of Christian evangelism. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) said Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct is the first document to receive unanimous endorsement from the WEA, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) of the Catholic Church, and the World Council of Churches (WCC). According to Christianity Today, the three-part document states that its intent is to "encourage churches, church councils, and mission agencies to reflect on their current practices ... for their witness and mission among those of different religions and among those who do not profess any particular religion." Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the PCID, said the text "will help us reduce unnecessary tensions and present the truth of God in a credible way to the world around us."
Egyptian Court Dismisses Muslim Case against Christian Woman
Egypt's courts have finally dismissed a four-month-long case over the alleged conversion and detention of a Coptic woman. Camilia Shehata, the wife of a Coptic priest, never joined the courtroom over the matter. Assyrian International News Agency reports that she did leave her husband temporarily in July 2010 without telling him her whereabouts, sparking rumors that she had been kidnapped by Muslims and converted. Many Muslims believe she returned by force to her husband. Shehata's attorney, Dr. Naguib Gabriel, said, "The only thing the Muslim lawyers delivered as proof for their claims were snippets of newspapers from the Internet." He continued, "Today's court ruling closes the curtain on one of the most famous and difficult cases in Egypt... Muslims will not be allowed to demonstrate regarding this matter anymore, which they used as a pretext to create sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians."
Pope Sends First Tweet on iPad
Christian Today reports that Pope Benedict XVI has joined the Twitterverse. The 84-year-old pontiff sent his first tweet on Wednesday via an iPad, announcing the launch of a new online portal for Vatican news. The Vatican portal will provide live streams of papal events and audio feeds from Vatican radio, as well as feature photographs and the Pope’s latest homilies and speeches. Thaddeus Jones, project coordinator and an official with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told The Guardian: “He was clearly in awe at the new technology... It's a lighter moment but also an important one, it marks a new way of communicating.” Pope Benedict has previously spoken of the importance of using new technology. On World Communications Day this year, he said it provided “unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship”.