Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 16, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 16, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Iran May Hang Imprisoned U.S. Pastor
  • 'Transgender' Option Added to Iowa College Application
  • Support for Traditional Marriage Growing in New Zealand


Iran May Hang Imprisoned U.S. Pastor

An American-Iranian pastor imprisoned in Tehran since September may face hanging because of his Christian faith, the Washington Free Beacon reports. Saeed Abedini sent a letter to his family Jan. 10 detailing his torture and treatment by Iranian authorities, and the U.S. State Department expressed "serious concerns" about his situation on Friday. Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said: "This is an extremely critical time for American pastor Saeed and his family. We now know with certainty, from his own words, the brutality and life-threatening danger he faces in Iran's notorious Evin Prison. In a powerful letter from him released to family members in Tehran, Pastor Saeed reveals that he is undergoing beatings and is being told that he 'will hang' for his Christian faith. That treatment combined with the recent news that Pastor Saeed's case has been turned over to one of Iran's 'hanging judges' makes his circumstances more dire than ever." Abedini became an American citizen in 2010 after marrying his American wife, Naghmeh, but the Iranian government does not recognize his American citizenship, though it had enabled him to travel freely between both countries until this past summer. That's when he was pulled off a bus by authorities and placed under house arrest, then imprisoned and charged with several crimes that have not been made public -- but it is widely believed to be because of his Christian faith.

'Transgender' Option Added to Iowa College Application

The University of Iowa has become the first public university in the nation to specifically include optional questions about students' sexual orientation and gender identity in its admissions applications, Baptist Press reports. Elmhurst College, a private liberal arts school, was the first U.S. institution of higher education to do so; now the University of Iowa's application offers "transgender" as an option along with "male" and "female" and asks the optional question, "Do you identify with the LGBTQ Community?" Michael Barron, assistant provost for enrollment management and executive director of admissions, said, "The new LGBT question on our undergraduate application reflects our foundational commitment to inclusion of all students, no matter what their origin or orientation." The University of Iowa said it prided itself on being a place of historic firsts, including the first public university to offer insurance benefits to employees' domestic partners.

Support for Traditional Marriage Growing in New Zealand

Support for traditional marriage is growing in the notoriously liberal New Zealand, according to the pro-family group Family First NZ and the "Protect Marriage" campaign, WORLD News Service reports. A Herald on Sunday poll said support for same-sex "marriage" had fallen from a previous high of 63 percent last May to just 53 percent now. "These results are energizing our campaign to maintain the definition of marriage as is," said Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First NZ. "We always knew that once we got past the slogan of 'marriage equality' and debated the real impact of redefining marriage, that New Zealanders would understand that there is no need for a 'same-sex marriage' bill."

Publication date: January 16, 2013