Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.
In today's edition:
- God Is No Longer Male, Says Scottish Episcopal Church
- Fla. Pastor: Burning Quran Is 'Direction God Wants Us to Go'
- Anglican Priest Gets Four Years in Prison for Sham Marriages
- Runaway Christian Convert from Ohio Gains Legal U.S. Residency
God Is No Longer Male, Says Scottish Episcopal Church
UK Daily Mail reports that the Scottish Episcopal Church has caused controversy by removing masculine references to God in a new order of service. The new liturgy and worship forms with more "inclusive" language are an attempt to acknowledge that God is "beyond human gender." Not every church, however, will be using the new form -- only those who have difficulty with a male God. To that end, words such as 'Lord, he, his, him' have been removed; 'mankind' has been replaced with "world" in most instances. Traditionalists have criticized the changes on the grounds that they smack of political correctness and because they believe they are not consistent with the teachings of the Bible. The church's Liturgy Committee produced the new form in consultation with the Faith & Order Board of General Synod and the College of Bishops.
Fla. Pastor: Burning Quran Is 'Direction God Wants Us to Go'
A Florida church planning to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday has no intention of changing course, an associate pastor said Wednesday. Wayne Sapp, an associate pastor at Dove World Outreach Center, rejected Gen. David Petraeus's claim that the move will put American servicemen at risk. "We don't believe it," he said, according to USA Today. "The troops knew the dangers before they went over there. They knew the radical element of Islam is there. This is nothing new." Sapp said the church is "still in prayer over the whole thing" but is "convinced this is the direction God wants us to go." He compared the action to the biblical story of Abraham's call to sacrifice his son. "God didn't tell him, 'Go right up to the point where you might sacrifice him,'" Sapp said. "He wanted him to be fully committed. We're prepared to do what we're called to do."
Anglican Priest Gets Four Years in Prison for Sham Marriages
Religion News Service reports that an Anglican vicar has been sentenced to four years in prison for conducting hundreds of fake marriages as part of a fraud helping illegal immigrants set up permanent homes in Britain. The Rev. Alex Brown was convicted of carrying out some 360 sham marriages at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in St. Leonards-on-Sea, in southern England. The 61-year-old vicar was sentenced Monday in Lewes Crown Court, which heard how he conspired in the illegal weddings of hundreds of foreigners -- mostly of African men to Eastern European women. According to testimony, the impoverished "brides" were paid up to $4,500 for their involvement in a string of so-called "marriages of convenience," in violation of British immigration laws. The vicar insisted he was unaware that the marriages were fake and claimed he had conducted ceremonies only of couples he was certain were getting married for legitimate reasons.
Runaway Christian Convert from Ohio Gains Legal U.S. Residency
Rifqa Bary, who fled her Muslim parents' home in Ohio last year after her conversion to Christianity, has gained permanent residency in the United States, The Associated Press reports. Her parents were illegal immigrants, placing her at risk for deportation even after she gained independence earlier this year at age 17. Bary, now 18, said she feared she would be the victim of an honor killing if her parents made her return to their native Sri Lanka. The Associated Press reports that Kort Gatterdam, a lawyer for Rifqa Bary, said Tuesday the news means Bary can now start applying for a driver's license, Medicaid coverage and college scholarships. Gatterdam says Bary, a native of Sri Lanka, received her permanent residency card last week and can apply for citizenship in five years.