Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Two Christians Released in Iran
- Pittsburgh Episocpalians Weigh Division
- India Violence Spreads Despite Christian Protests
- Analysis: America's 12 Religious Voting Blocs
Two Christians Released in Iran
Mission News Network reports that two Christian converts from Islam were released even as the draft apostasy bill remains in the parliament. "Both Mahmood Matin-Azad and Arash Basirat have been released from an Iranian prison, after they had met with a tribunal who had ruled that the charges against them were invalid," said Glenn Penner with Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC). The two men were charged with "offense" to Islam and spreading lies - essentially, speaking against Islam. The release of the two men comes after international pressure from the EU to drop the apostasy bill. Penner says this is a time of spiritual openness in Iran. "The young people, in particular, are open to hearing the Gospel, and there is a real deep disillusionment with Islam at this point."
Pittsburgh Episocpalians Weigh Division
The New York Times reports that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsbrugh is expected to vote Saturday in favor of leaving the national church, thereby becoming the second diocese in the United States to leave the American branch of the Anglican Communion. The diocese is expected to join the more conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America. “No one goes to church to fight,” said the Rev. Peter Frank, a spokesman for the diocese, whose conservative leader, Bishop Robert W. Duncan, was removed by the national church on Sept. 18 for pushing for secession. “It’s going to be difficult. And, at the same time, there’s hope in this. It’s time to move on.” Preliminary voting last year showed that as many as two-third of the diocese's parishes will vote to leave, but many groups are still intent on remaining with the national church. Disagreements on biblical authority and exclusivity surfaced years ago, but climaxed when the national church ordained an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003.
India Violence Spreads Despite Christian Protests
The Christian Post reports that in spite of multiple rallies and peace demonstrations, Christians in India remain at risk as violence continues to spread throughout Orissa and several other states. This week, a major "dharna" - an Indian method of seeking justice at the door of the debtor while fasting - has gathered participants from church leaders, ministries and Christian institutions. “I believe the Lord is going to use this event,” said Gospel for Asia president Dr. K.P. Yohannan, “and I have instructed our leaders all over India to seek out other Christian leaders and meet with them and stand with them in this time of persecution.” He added, “But sadly... even as the dharna is going on, the situation in Orissa continues to get worse. But little is being reported to the outside world now because the media is being kept out, even as entire villages are being destroyed.”
Analysis: America's 12 Religious Voting Blocs
A new suvey shows that voters across the spectrum are far less concerned about moral issues than in years past, the Christian Post reports. Now, economy reigns as the top issue, according to the 2008 edition of the Twelve Tribes of American Politics by John Green of the Bliss Institute at University of Akron and Beliefnet.com. The survey found that the economy nearly doubled in importance since 2004, jumping from 32 percent to 61 percent, while only 13 percent of voters listed social issues as the most important voting issue this election, compared to 26 percent in 2004. According to the Christian Post, "the survey seeks to be more specific than normal political polls that mostly only divide voters into two groups – the Religious Right and Everyone Else," thus dividing people into twelve religious categories. The "Religious Right" still tops the groups for concern about social issues, but even 42 percent of these voters rank economy as top priority, compared to just 13 percent in 2004.