Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Chaplains Say Navy Wedding Policy Confuses Debate
- Egypt Christians Protest in Cairo after Church Attack
- 5th Week: China Evicts Christians from Homes
- Iran Releases Jailed Christians; Others Still Missing
Chaplains Say Navy Wedding Policy Confuses Debate
A recent Navy memo that would permit military chaplains to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies upon repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy is creating tension amid an already fractious debate. “It is absolutely deplorable,” said the Rev. Billy Baugham, executive director of the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers, according to Religion News Service. “It is a total surprise to us in the sense that we did not know it would really come to this.” The chief of Navy chaplains announced in an April 13 memo that training materials for the expected repeal have been changed to allow chaplains to officiate at some same-sex ceremonies. Baugham said leaders of his small, conservative Christian organization will likely assess if they want to continue sending chaplains to the Navy under such a policy, but he expects chaplains already in the services to remain.
Egypt Christians Protest in Cairo after Church Attack
Coptic Christians took to the streets of Cairo this week, demanding protection following attacks that killed at least 12 people. The BBC reports the many held a protest vigil near Tahrir Square on Monday and gathered outside the country's state television. They say the army failed to protect them. The military has detained more than 190 people in the violence as a "deterrent" to further violence, and Egypt's justice minister Abdel Aziz al-Gindi has warned that those who threaten the country's security will face "an iron fist." Witnesses said the confrontation began with shouting between protesters, church guards and people living near Saint Mena Church in Cairo. Rival groups threw firebombs and stones, and gunfire was heard. The violence continued for 14 hours before police could control the situation.
5th Week: China Arrests More Christians
Baptist Press reports that at least 13 members of a Beijing church were arrested Sunday, May 8, in the fifth straight week of its defiance of the Chinese government. Officials have continued to force people out of their homes in an effort to pressure the congregation. One family learned they were being kicked out of their home at 6:40 Sunday morning, before the service even began. The high-profile clash between the government and Shouwang Church -- one of the largest unregistered illegal churches in Beijing -- has led to hundreds of house arrests or detentions. More than 500 church members were placed under arrest on Easter weekend alone, prevented from leaving their houses or apartments. Shouwang Church itself is homeless, having lost its meeting space when the government pressured the owners of a restaurant -- its last home -- to kick out the church. The church also has tried to rent space, only to see various landlords pressured not to cooperate.
Iran Releases Jailed Christians; Others Still Missing
Worthy News reports that Iran has released three Christians who were detained last year during Christian gatherings, rights activists confirmed on Friday, but a fourth remains missing. Sonia Keshish Avanessian, Arash Kermanjani and his wife Arezo Teimouri were freed from Hamadan prison "after having being held for nearly eight months without charge," according to persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). A fourth member of the group, Avanessian's husband Vahik Abrahamian, who also has Dutch citizenship "remains imprisoned and his condition is unknown," CSW said. The four Christians were arrested along with eight others at a Christian home fellowship. Several political parties in the Netherlands' parliament asked the Dutch government to pressure Iran to free the Christian, but Iran does not recognize Dutch citizenship of native Iranians. The three were released without bail or acquittal.