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Religion Today Daily Headlines - July 16, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - July 16, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • U.S. Military Holds First Gay Pride Event
  • Iranian Pastor's Six-Year Sentence Upheld
  • India: Hindu Extremists Demolish Christian Houses, Church
  • School Wins Case Against Counseling Student Expelled for Anti-Gay Views


U.S. Military Holds First Gay Pride Event

The U.S. military broke with history on June 26, holding its first celebration of homosexuality at the Pentagon, WORLD News Service reports. Jeh Johnson, general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense, delivered a keynote address before a panel discussion titled "The Value of Open Service and Diversity." Johnson, who co-wrote the report that eventually led to the Obama administration repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" last September, said the repeal had not affected the military in any tangible way, but Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, disagreed. "There have been signs of discontent with the situation," she said, citing a U.S. Army study on stress and sex-crime trends. "The most important thing is, people in the military follow orders, and one is you don't go out and question policy once it's been changed. So there's no vehicle for people in the military to register discomfort with the new LGBT law." Donnelly said "diversity" actually weakened the military, and that civilian activists were using it for social engineering. "What makes our military strong are the intangibles -- dedication to the mission, selfless service, putting the mission ahead of individual interests," she said. "If you have a faction that says 'It's about me, me, us, us,' that's inherently divisive."

Iranian Pastor's Six-Year Sentence Upheld

Iran's Revolutionary Court recently upheld imprisoned pastor Farshid Fathi's six-year sentence for "political offenses," forcing him to complete a prison term that began more than 18 months ago, Voice of the Martyrs reports. Farshid was arrested in December 2010 for his Christian work, but authorities continue to cast his activities as political offenses. He was convicted for allegedly being the chief agent of a foreign organization in Iran and for administering funds for foreign organizations, charges often used to arrest and convict Christians. According to Elam Ministries, Farshid has become much beloved among inmates in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. His trial had been repeatedly postponed by judicial authorities until earlier this year, and even though his wife, Leila, relinquished the deed to their home to pay his bill, he was never released. Farshid and Leila have two children.

India: Hindu Extremists Demolish Christian Houses, Church

On June 6 in Assam, India, Hindu extremists demolished three houses belonging to Christians, as well as a place of worship, Compass Direct News reports. Sources said the enraged extremists threw Bhageswarn Rabha, Rana Rabha and Motiram Rabha out of their homes and destroyed the structures. The extremists also cut down their vegetation and looted their grains, cattle and poultry. The Christians fled the area in fear.

School Wins Case Against Counseling Student Expelled for Anti-Gay Views

A Georgia student has lost another round in her battle with Augusta State University over her expulsion from the school's counseling program for saying she disagreed with homosexuality and wanted to work with conversion therapy -- helping clients stop living a gay lifestyle -- after graduation, WORLD News Service reports. School administrators demanded Jennifer Keeton complete a remediation plan to "correct" her views on working with homosexual clients, and kicked her out of the program when she refused. Last week, a state district court judge dismissed Keeton's case against the school, concluding that administrators did not violate her constitutional rights. The case hinged on whether the policies governing the counseling program were neutral and generally applicable to all students, regardless of their religious beliefs, and judge J. Randall Hall of the Southern District of Georgia determined that they were. Attorneys on both sides have declined to comment outside the courtroom because Hall prohibited public statements about the case.

Publication date: July 16, 2012