Religion Today Summaries - September 7, 2011

Religion Today Summaries - September 7, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Lawmaker: Suspension of Air Force Class Over Bible Passages 'Misrepresents First Amendment'
  • Nigeria Bombing Suspects Thought to be Tied to al Qaeda
  • Iranian Authorities Free Christian after Year in Prison
  • Poll: Evangelical Millennials Support Homosexual Issues


Lawmaker: Suspension of Air Force Class Over Bible Passages 'Misrepresents First Amendment'

FOX News reports that republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas is asking for a detailed report from the Air Force after a course taught by chaplains for over 20 years on “Just War Theory” was suspended because it included passages from the Bible. Cornyn sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley expressing his concern over the suspension of the class at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. “Suspending a course like this because of references to religious texts misrepresents the First Amendment,” wrote Cornyn. “Although our Founding Fathers rightly included language in the Constitution that precludes the Federal government from establishing an official religion, this language does not, as some have argued, protect them from exposure to religious references.” The course uses Scripture from both the Old and New Testaments to show missile launch officers that it can be moral to go to war.

Nigeria Bombing Suspects Thought to be Tied to al Qaeda

According to a Hamilton Strategies press release, members of Boko Haram, the militant Islam group that claimed responsibility for the recent suicide bombing of a United Nations building in Nigeria, are believed to have al Qaeda ties, receiving training from al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Afghanistan and Algeria. Now, Nigerian security officials are concerned that the Islamic militant group has splintered into two factions: one focused on local grievances and another that is seeking contacts with outside terror groups—including al Qaeda—and weighing fresh attacks. Nigerian police had arrested two men with ties to the group just days before the car bombing on Aug. 26 at UN headquarters in Abuja that killed 23 people—including nine UN staff members—and wounded more than 80. The two men are suspected of organizing the attack, but it is unclear why the bombing wasn’t averted after their arrest. A third suspect, also with al Qaeda links, is being sought. “This is a volatile time in Nigeria,” said Don Shenk, executive director of The Tide ministry, “and certainly a frightening time for those living and working there. We will, however, continue our mission to spread the Gospel to the Nigerian people and pray for safety and peace in the region.”

Iranian Authorities Free Christian after Year in Prison

According to Compass Direct News, Iranian authorities on Aug. 29 released a Christian after 359 days of detainment on charges of spreading Christianity among Farsi-speaking Iranians and having ties with foreign Christian organizations. Authorities arrested Vahik Abrahamian, 45, a dual Iranian and Dutch citizen who belongs to Iran’s Armenian community, and his wife on Sept. 4, 2010 in Hamadan, along with another Iranian Christian couple, Arash Kermanjani and Arezou Teimouri. On April 30 authorities released Abrahamian’s wife, Sonia, along with Kermanjani and Teimouri, and Abrahamian was ultimately held in the Hamadan general prison ward. The couple worked with drug addicts and other marginalized Iranians. Abrahamian had become a Christian in the Netherlands, where he visited an Iranian church. At that time he found freedom from his own drug addiction, and in 2006 he returned to Iran to work with drug users. Authorities were incensed that Abrahamian worked with marginalized Farsi-speaking Muslims, and even more that he had connections with foreign Christians. An Iranian Christian pastor said, “The reason he was in prison for so long wasn’t about his [faith and activities], but because he was connected with foreign Christians."

Poll: Evangelical Millennials Support Homosexual Issues

A survey released in August by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates people between the ages of 18 and 29 have more liberal views on same-sex issues than their parents and grandparents — regardless of political affiliations or Christian faith. WORLD News Service reports that he telephone survey of 3,000 Millennials, conducted between July 14 and 30, indicates 49 percent of those considering themselves Republicans favor same-sex marriage, compared to 19 percent of Republican seniors and 31 percent of all Republicans. Additionally, 44 percent of white evangelical Millennials favor same-sex marriage, compared to only 12 percent of evangelical seniors and 19 percent of evangelicals overall.