Religion Today Summaries - March 26, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 26, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Religious Freedom Group Names Worst Offenders
  • 'Blue Like Jazz' Director Steve Taylor Stirs Up Controversy
  • Salafist Leaders Celebrate Death of Coptic Pope in Egypt
  • N.H. Gay Marriage Repeal Bill Defeated


Religious Freedom Group Names Worst Offenders

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its annual report listing the nations most prone to violating religious freedom, WORLD News Service reports. Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) -- named by USCIRF as those most in need of close monitoring by the State Department -- include Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, where governments sanction discrimination and violence against unpopular and minority religions.

'Blue Like Jazz' Director Steve Taylor Stirs Up Controversy

Steve Taylor, director of the upcoming movie Blue Like Jazz (based on Donald Miller's 2003 book of the same name), is stirring up controversy for recent comments about Christian movies. In a recent blog post, Taylor accused the "Christian movie establishment" of being out to get Blue Like Jazz and discussed some of his issues with "Christian movies" like the popular Facing the Giants and Fireproof -- for example, that they are over-sentimental, lacking in artistry, poorly acted and stereotypical. Taylor wrote: "I'm glad movies like Fireproof exist, and I wish its makers continued success. But most of my movie-going friends are ready for a different representation of their faith beyond what the Christian Movie Establishment is currently serving." Miller, who received criticism about the book in 2003 from many evangelicals -- such as one pastor who wrote, "I am concerned that in his attempt to relate Christianity to the world, Miller has let the postmodern world define Christianity for him" -- said he expected similar pushback over some themes in the film but that he and Taylor "wanted to tell the story truthfully." Miller emphasized that the movie was about "real people in a real world and one of them happens to be a Christian," but as WORLD Magazine movie reviewer Tiffany Owens wrote, the film "struggles to offer a clear explanation of the gospel" and "refers to Jesus but never explains who Jesus is or what He did."

Salafist Leaders Celebrate Death of Coptic Pope in Egypt

As Coptic Christians across Egypt continued to mourn the loss of Pope Shenouda III last week, Islamist leaders of the Salafist movement issued a litany of insults, calling the late leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church the "head of the infidels" and thanking Allah for his death, Compass Direct News reports. In a recorded message released on his Facebook page the day after 88-year-old Shenouda died, one leading Salafi teacher said: "We rejoice that he is destroyed. He has perished. May [Allah] have his revenge on him in the fire of hell -- he and all who walk his path." After the cleric issued his statement, several others followed suit, releasing insults throughout the week. Bishop Mouneer Anis, head of the Episcopal and Anglican Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, said insulting people after their death was considered one of the rudest things someone could do in the Middle East. Anis, a close friend of Shenouda, said the comments and actions were "very sad."

N.H. Gay Marriage Repeal Bill Defeated

A bill that would have reversed New Hampshire's gay marriage law failed to pass in the state House of Representatives -- a surprising outcome for the Republican-controlled body that just weeks ago was expected to pass it, Baptist Press reports. New Hampshire would have become the first state to pass such a bill, but it was defeated March 21 by a 211-116 vote. The Senate had yet to consider it. "Ultimately, it will be our children that will pay the price for failing to pass HB 437," said New Hampshire-based Cornerstone Policy Research, which supported the bill. "For instance, genderless marriage ends the biological link between parents and children. In the future, parenting will just become a contract between two people; the gender roles of a mom and a dad will be irrelevant." The bill had stated: "A child has a natural human right to the love, care and support of his or her own mother and father, whenever possible. Marriage is the primary social institution that promotes that ideal and encourages its achievement."

Publication date: March 26, 2012