Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Recession Continues to Impact Church Donations
- Christian Woman Jailed under Pakistan's Blasphemy Law
- Baptists Fined 100 Times Min. Monthly Salary in Uzbekistan
- Irish Bishop Resigns in Sex Abuse Scandal
Recession Continues to Impact Church Donations
The Washington Times reports that even more churches experienced a steep drop in giving in 2009 than the year before. According to the "State of the Plate" survey from Christianity Today International (CTI) and the Colorado Springs firm Maximum Generosity, 38 percent of churches nationwide saw their giving donations drop in 2009. In 2008, 29 percent of churches said their giving decreased. Megachurches of more than 2,000 attendees were most likely to see donations drop, with 47 percent reporting a decrease. "Most churches go into December assuming they will get that final kick, and they missed out big," said the Rev. Brian Kluth, founder of Maximum Generosity and pastor of First Evangelical Free Church in Colorado Springs. "Well, we're in a different kind of economy. This is the new normal."
Christian Woman Jailed under Pakistan's Blasphemy Law
Compass Direct News reports that police in Alipur have arrested a Christian woman on charges of "blaspheming" the prophet of Islam. A Christian leader says the accusation is baseless, and that the police have tried to keep rights groups from discovering the detention. Rubina Bibi's accuser is a Muslims woman. "The Muslim woman's name was kept secret by the police and Muslim people, and we were not allowed to see the Christian woman," said Khalid Gill with All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA). "The Alipur police said they had not arrested her yet, contrary to the fact that they had arrested and tortured her at Alipur police station." Gill said the charge against Rubina Bibi grew out of a quarrel with her Muslim accuser over a minor domestic dispute. He said a radical Muslim relative of the accuser, Sabir Munir Qadri, had turned the quarrel into a religious issue in which the Christian could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment with a large fine.
Baptists Fined 100 Times Min. Monthly Salary in Uzbekistan
ASSIST News Service reports that the Uzbekistan government has fined 13 members of an unregistered Baptist church 100 times the minimum monthly salary. According to Forum 18 News Service, Judge Islam Noyobov of Almalyk Criminal Court, near the capital city of Tashkent, fined the Baptists for "illegal teaching of religious doctrines without a special authorization from a central religious organization." The court ordered that 30 copies of religious literature in Russian and Uzbek be confiscated, including six Bibles in Russian and one New Testament and Psalms in Uzbek. The literature and materials were ordered to be sent to the State Religious Affairs Committee in Tashkent for "religious expert" examination. Such "expert examination" is often ordered for confiscated literature, even for the works of authors such as Sir Walter Scott and Ivan Turgenev.
Irish Bishop Resigns in Sex Abuse Scandal
Religion News Service reports that an Irish Catholic bishop has resigned following accusations he mishandled cases of clerical sex abuse of children. The Vatican announced on Wednesday that Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, 73, had stepped down in accordance with a church law requiring the resignation of a "bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause." Magee served as a private secretary to three popes -- Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II -- before becoming bishop of Cloyne in 1987. He stepped down indefinitely from active duty a year ago, pending the conclusion of an inquiry into sex abuse in his diocese. "As I depart, I want to offer once again my sincere apologies to any person who has been abused by any priest of the Diocese of Cloyne during my time as bishop or at any time," Magee said in a statement. "To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made to suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon."