Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Evangelicals Turn Out to Vote in Record Numbers
- Egypt: Police on High Alert to Protect Churches after Threat
- Uzbekistan Officials Raid Protestant Service
- Mass. Church Arsonist Sentenced to Nine Years
Evangelicals Turn Out to Vote in Record Numbers
According to a post-election survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, self-identified evangelicals were the largest single constituency to vote in the 2010 midterm elections. The demographic comprised 29 percent of the vote and cast 78 percent of their ballots for Republican candidates. The turnout and was the largest ever recorded in a midterm election. The survey also found that 52 percent of all self-identified members of the Tea Party movement are conservative evangelicals, which is consistent with other organizations' surveys. Evangelicals were joined by frequently-church-attending Roman Catholic voters, who constituted 12 percent of the vote and cast 58 percent of their ballots for Republican candidates, as opposed to 40 percent of their ballots for Democrats, according to CNN exit polling.
Egypt: Police on High Alert to Protect Churches after Threat
Egypt's Christian minority will receive an abnormally high level of protection from Egyptian authorities following threats from Al Qaeda. According to the Los Angeles Times, police have increased their presence around churches in Cairo and other provinces, and worshippers will be searched before entering any church. The heightened threat and security presence comes on the heels of a massive church slaughter in Baghdad, Iraq, when at least 58 people were killed on Sunday. Egypt's Coptic community also has yet to forgot a drive-by shooting outside a church in Naga Hamady, a town in southern Egypt. The January attack killed six Christians and a Muslim. "Al Qaeda's threat is just bogus," analyst Amar Ali Hassan said. "Nonetheless, this was expected in light of repeated failures by the Egyptian government to resolve the sectarian problem."
Uzbekistan Officials Raid Protestant Service
Five Baptists in Uzbekistan have failed to pay fines for participating in an unregistered worship service, Worthy News reports. A judge rejected the Baptists' appeals against the fines, imposed in September after an "anti-terror" raid on a congregation. Police seized hymnbooks, personal Bibles, and handwritten notebooks from church members. Church members were forced to write statement about their activity in the church and record their names. Veniamin Nemirov, in whose home the church met, had his passport confiscated: police have since refused to return it. Police accused one church member, Alisher Abdullaev, of "betraying" his Muslim faith, while Nemirov was threatened with criminal prosecution, but all detainees were released within hours. Uzbekistan bans religious activity without state registration, which is difficult to obtain.
Mass. Church Arsonist Sentenced to Nine Years
Religion News Service reports that the first of three men charged with torching a black church hours after President Obama's 2008 election was sentenced to nine years in prison on Monday. The judge called crime act a "particularly vicious act of stupidity." Benjamin J. Haskell, 23, of Springfield, Mass., also must pay a share of $1.7 million in restitution to the Macedonia Church of God in Christ and serve three years supervised release after completing his prison term. "The element of rank, blind stupidity in this act is literally almost unbelievable," U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor said from the bench. Haskell, 23, pleaded guilty in June to a civil rights violation and destroying religious property. Another Springfield man, Thomas A. Gleason, Jr., 25, pleaded to the same charges, while Michael F. Jacques, 25, is awaiting trial. The fire caused $2 million in damages, sent two firefighters to the hospital and triggered a federal civil rights investigation that was monitored by the White House.