Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Egypt Copts Scrap Celebration after Iraq Church Attack
- Burma Releases Nobel Peace Prize Winner
- Iranian Pastor to Die by Hanging
- Rural Church Leaves ELCA over Gay Clergy, Genetics
Egypt Copts Scrap Celebration after Iraq Church Attack
Coptic Christians in Egypt canceled a weekend celebration not out of fear, but out of solidarity with targeted Christians in Iraq, AFP reports. Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen killed almost 60 people when they attacked a Baghdad church on Oct. 31 and declared that all Christians in the region are "legitimate targets." The militants also claimed the Coptic church is holding two women rumored to have converted to Islam. Pope Shenuda III reportedly cancelled a celebration marking his ordination "because of the conditions that the region is going through," an unnamed source told Egypt's MENA news agency. "The monstrous crime" in Baghdad "has affected the whole world. Solidarity with the church in Iraq and mourning for the victims are the least of the obligations of the Coptic church and churches in the region," he said.
Burma Releases Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) welcomes Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest in Burma. Suu Kyi was detained by the military junta for over 15 years, most of it under house arrest. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won 82% of the parliamentary seats in the election in 1990, but the regime rejected the results. Burma's sham elections on Nov. 7 were contested under new electoral rules, which excluded Aung San Suu Kyi from participating and banned the NLD. Benedict Rogers, CSW's East Asian Team Leader, said, "We welcome [Aung San Suu Kyi's] release today. But her release alone is no measure of progress, unless it is accompanied by the release of all other political prisoners, an end to attacks on ethnic civilians including rape, forced labor, torture and killings..."
Iranian Pastor to Die by Hanging
ASSIST News Service reports that an Iranian pastor found guilty of "thought crimes" has received the official verdict in writing. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has 20 days to appeal the verdict and sentence of death of hanging. His attorney has already started the appeals process. Jason DeMars, spokesperson for Present Truth Ministries, said, "Please pray for Youcef, that God would grant him peace and strength in this hour, that God would move on his behalf, and that he would be delivered. Pray also for his wife and children; this is extremely difficult for them." Nadarkhani's case has gained international attention after he was sentenced for demanding that his Christian sons not be subjected to constant Islamic instruction.
Rural Church Leaves ELCA over Gay Clergy, Genetics
A rural North Dakota church has voted to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, not only to protest its recent policies to allow gay clergy but also its proposed statement on genetically modified foods. Religion News Service reports that members of the Anselm Trinity Lutheran Church near Sheldon, N.D., interpreted the ELCA's draft statement as saying farmers who use genetically modified seeds are "pretty much sinners," said church council president Jill Bunn. The church is located in the Red River Valley, where farmers often use enhanced seeds to help plants resist weed killers. The 25-4 vote, taken Nov. 7, comes at a time when other churches are leaving the ELCA after it decided last year to permit noncelibate gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions. Bunn said news of the ELCA genetics proposal in a farming publication gave the congregation another reason to depart. "That just added to the gay-lesbian proposal that they passed already," she said.