12 Days of Giveaways - Spin & Win! Sign up before Dec. 25th to win daily prizes and a $250 Amazon.com Gift Card. Find out details.

Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 24, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 24, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • U.S. Pastor Shut Out of Iranian Trial, Unable to Address Charges
  • Andy Stanley Calls Obama 'Pastor in Chief' in Pre-Inauguration Sermon
  • Americans Expect to Give Less in 2013
  • Egyptian Christian Leader Calls for Prayer in Wake of Revolution Anniversary


U.S. Pastor Shut Out of Iranian Trial, Unable to Address Charges

An American Christian pastor being tried in Iran for his religious beliefs was shut out of his own trial Tuesday, according to the American Center for Law and Justice. Tuesday was the only day for Saeed Abedini to present a defense, but both he and his Iranian attorney were barred from the courtroom as Iranian prosecutors brought testimony against him, attempting to force lay church leaders to testify against him before Iran's infamous "hanging judge." The ACLJ confirmed that one lay church leader was specifically questioned about converting to Christianity and whether Abedini encouraged the conversion, which he did. The court also asked for details on how Abedini -- a naturalized U.S. citizen -- had financed his multiple trips back to Iran to work on establishing an orphanage and whether any foreign funds were used. The judge told the lay leader to expect another summons within a month to return to testify against Abedini, said Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, on Tuesday. She said her husband had told her earlier that he would likely be held in prison "for a long time," and she added: "This testimony ... is further proof that Iran was just trying to silence the media and has no intention of releasing my husband anytime soon. We need to continue exposing Iran's violation of Saeed's human rights until my husband is safely back in my arms."

Andy Stanley Calls Obama 'Pastor in Chief' in Pre-Inauguration Sermon

Atlanta-area megachurch pastor Andy Stanley, who gave the sermon at the pre-inaugural church service, suggested during his remarks that President Obama should be called "pastor in chief" for his leadership following the Newtown shooting, the Washington Examiner reports. Stanley thanked Obama for his work after the tragedy when he spoke to mourners, then acknowledged Obama's influence and prayed that the president would "continue to leverage this influence for the sake of our nation and the sake of the world."

Americans Expect to Give Less in 2013

In an ominous sign for charities, Americans say they will pull back on their giving in the coming year, according to the 2013 Dunham+Company/Wilson Perkins Allen State of Philanthropy Study. Donors indicated that their giving in 2013 will revert to recession-like levels, with 27 percent of adults -- the same percentage as 2009 and 2010 and more than double the percentage in 2012 -- saying they would be giving less in the coming year. "Although Americans feel their personal economic situation is more stable, the findings from this year's study mirror the findings during the depths of the recession, which is not good," said Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company. "Our research has shown that charitable giving is at risk when there is uncertainty in the economy as people conserve out of fear for what the future might hold. With the uncertainty over the implications of what might be done during the debt ceiling negotiations regarding tax rates or deductions and the continued ambiguity around the effects of Obamacare, there is plenty for Americans to worry about, so we should not be surprised if there is a downturn in charitable support."

Egyptian Christian Leader Calls for Prayer in Wake of Revolution Anniversary

As the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian revolution against the Mubarak regime approaches on Jan. 25, an Egyptian Christian leader reports "a split nation overflowing with too much frustration and anger, with hardly any positive or promising political or social development. The economy is a disaster, with our local currency's value diving deep down into the unknown." This spirit of frustration and anger "provides good soil for a major clash this Friday," the Christian leader says. "Words are spreading around about a second revolution, another eruption of anger, but this time it is directed against the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, who have taken a strong hand on the reins of the Egyptian nation, acting as if they alone live in the country." Reports of planned organized protests in many of Egypt’s main cities are being circulated on the Internet and through satellite news programs. Prominent politicians, writers and society figures are urging Egyptians to go back to the street, proclaiming the rejection of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, and renewing the call for a civil state. The Christian leader notes that "there are several possible scenarios for Friday, the worst of which could be severe confrontations and clashes between the Islamic state and civil state supporters. The shadows of violence and turmoil are showing up again all over the scene in Egypt, leaving us with many concerns and anxieties. ... May the Lord have mercy on us and save Egypt from every evil. Please join us in prayer."

Publication date: January 24, 2013