Religion Today Summaries - March 8, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 8, 2006

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

In today's edition:

  • Two Pakistanis Sentenced for Murder of Christian Student
  • Bible Society Center in Gaza Temporarily Closed after Threat
  • Faith Leaders Take Immigrant Rights Battle to Washington D.C.
  • Anglican Head Warns Against 'Visible Rupture' over Homosexuality

Two Pakistanis Sentenced for Murder of Christian Student

Two Muslim seminarians in Pakistan’s Punjab province were found guilty today of murdering a Pakistani Christian, who died 22 months ago after being tortured to convert to Islam. Before a courtroom packed with Islamic madrassa students and police, Judge Javed Iqbal Warraich sentenced Maulvi Ghulam Rasool and Mohammed Tayyab to 25 years in prison for their part in torturing and killing Catholic university student Javed Anjum. Prosecution lawyer Khalil Tahir Sindhu told Compass that he was pleased with the verdict but that he would appeal for the sentence to be changed to the death penalty.

Bible Society Center in Gaza Temporarily Closed after Threat

The Palestinian Bible Society has temporarily closed down its center and bookshop in Gaza City after it came under a bombing threat, said its acting secretary general, Nashat Filmon. Unknown masked gunmen distributed pamphlets on Palestine Square in Gaza City last month threatening to blow up the building housing the Bible Society if it did not close down before February 28. Last month two small pipe bombs exploded at the entrance of the center, causing damage but no injuries. The Bible Society’s center in Bir Zeit on the West Bank was also attacked last week, with militants breaking windows and attempting to set its student facility on fire. The Palestinian Bible Society has seven centers in East-Jerusalem and the areas of the Palestinian Authority, Filmon said. A center in Nablus was closed several years ago due to a tense political situation. The center in Bir Zeit will remain open. Filmon asked for prayer for protection for the team and the work of the Palestinian Bible Society. “We know that danger is around us, but we are still working.”

Faith Leaders Take Immigrant Rights Battle to Washington D.C.

As the debate heats up in our Nation’s Capitol, faith leaders join immigrant rights supporters from across the United States and make an unprecedented visit to Washington, D.C. to highlight opposition to HR 4437 — a controversial anti-immigrant bill that would permit the government to prosecute almost anyone who has regular contact with an undocumented person. The proposed legislation would also make way for a 700-mile border fence to be built between the U.S. and México. “If passed, HR 4437 is likely to drive undocumented immigrants further underground and increase their vulnerability to exploitation by broadening the definition of alien smuggling to include family members, employers, and immigrant advocates,” states Joyce Miller, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) assistant general secretary for justice and human rights. “The povisions of HR 4437 amount to a basic assault on civil liberties,” states Esther Nieves, director of Project Voice, the AFSC’s initiative that works to protect human rights and strengthen the impact of immigrant-led organizations on national policy. “The bill ignores fundamental legal principles and the constitutional guarantee of due process.”

Anglican Head Warns Against 'Visible Rupture' over Homosexuality

The Archbishop of Canterbury warned that divisions over homosexuality may soon rupture the Anglican Communion, causing wounds that may take decades to heal. "If there is a rupture, it's going to be a more visible rupture, it's not just going to settle down quietly into being a federation,” Archbishop Rowan Williams told BBC News. “I suppose my anxiety about it is that if the Communion is broken we may be left with even less than a federation." Canterbury’s comments were his strongest yet on the topic and came only a few months ahead of the U.S. Episcopal Church’s General Convention, slated for June in Ohio. The Anglican split over homosexuality began in 2003 following the ordination of an openly and actively gay bishop in the U.S. church. Since then, the ECUSA has been excluded from key decision-making Anglican bodies and its leaders have been urged to place a moratorium on ordaining gay bishops and prohibit the blessing of same-sex unions. A key component of the June meeting will be the election of new bishops. In a controversial move last week, the diocese of California included two openly gay candidates in its list of five nominees for the position of its next bishop. Canterbury opposed the move.