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Religion Today Daily Headlines - June 5, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - June 5, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Pastor Saeed's Wife Pleads With Human Rights Council
  • Illinois House Adjourns Without Gay Marriage Vote
  • Bachmann Calls It Quits in Congress
  • Christians in Sri Lanka Face Sharp Increase of Persecution


Pastor Saeed's Wife Pleads With Human Rights Council

The wife of American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, jailed and tortured in Iran for his faith, pled her case before the U.N. Human Rights Council Monday, CBN News reports. Naghmeh Abedini joined Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice to urge the panel to defend the persecuted church, specifically asking the member states to take more action on her husband's behalf. Pastor Saeed was sentenced to eight years in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison on account of his Christian faith. He has been abused physically and suffers from internal bleeding, but prison officials have refused to allow him to be treated for his injuries. Sekulow wrote on the ACLJ's website: "I implored the nations represented on the Human Rights Council to stand up for the most basic of human rights -- the right to peaceably assemble in exercise of one's religious beliefs -- and urge Iran to release Pastor Saeed Abedini." Despite a call by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in March for Saeed's "immediate" release, Naghmeh has said she's been "disappointed that this great country is not doing more to free my husband -- a U.S. citizen."

Illinois House Adjourns Without Gay Marriage Vote

The Illinois House of Representatives adjourned for the session on Friday without voting on gay marriage, an acknowledgement that it lacked the votes to pass in what was a defeat for gay marriage groups after a string of victories, Baptist Press reports. Six states legalized gay marriage in the last seven months, including three in May alone. It was thought Illinois might join that list and become the 13th state to redefine marriage, but the bill never made it to a floor vote. It had passed the Senate, 34-21, in February, and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn had pledged to sign it, but despite Democrats having a super-majority in the House, the bill lacked the necessary support. "This was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," House sponsor Greg Harris said after pulling the bill. Several House members had asked him to hold off on bringing the bill to the floor so they could spend the summer talking to constituents, he said; the bill could be considered again in November. The Illinois Family Institute, which worked to defeat the bill, said in a blog post that "in a liberal state like Illinois, this is a truly remarkable victory. ... The failure of this bill is a good thing for children, for parental rights, for religious liberty, for the common good and for truth."

Bachmann Calls It Quits in Congress

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a former presidential candidate and favorite of Tea Party Republicans, announced last week she will not run for another term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Bachmann did not give any reason for her decision and said she would not be available to answer questions in the wake of the announcement. Prior to the video announcement posted on her website, Bachmann had not given any clue she was considering leaving Congress. Her fundraising operation was churning out its usual pitches, and she even had an ad running on Twin Cities television talking about her role in opposing President Barack Obama's health law. Andy Aplikowski, who has long been active in the district's Republican Party chapter, said he expected Bachmann to run again but can understand why she chose not to. "It’s a grueling thing to be in Congress," he said. "It’s a grueling thing to be Michele Bachmann in Congress. Every move you make is criticized and put under a microscope." An outspoken opponent of the Obama administration, Bachmann promised her supporters, "I will continue to work overtime for the next 18 months in Congress defending the same constitutional conservative values we have worked so hard on together." Speaking on what's next for her career, Bachmann said, "There is no future option or opportunity, be it directly in the political arena or otherwise, that I won’t be giving serious consideration if it can help save and protect our great nation."

Christians in Sri Lanka Face Sharp Increase of Persecution

From January 2013 to date, Sri Lanka saw 30 incidents of persecution against Christian churches, Open Doors USA reports. The perpetrators of such acts were not brought to justice, which encourages the culprits to continue carrying out such violent attacks without regard for the law. In a press release dated April 3, 2013, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) expressed its deep concern over the "prevalence … of an organized campaign of hatred against adherents of non‐majority faiths." NCEASL wrote: "There are two alarming factors about the current situation. The first is that the violence seems to be organized and orchestrated by two organizations. Hence the violence has sustainability. Secondly, and most alarmingly both the extremist violent organizations seemingly have patronage and support from authorities and hence the impunity with which they operate." NCEASL's statement did not specify the two organizations, but one group had been drawing attention from mainstream media lately: Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), translated in English as Buddhist Power Force. Hard-line and militant in its views and stance on religious issues, the BBS had been implicated in numerous attacks and threats primarily targeted against Christians and Muslims. “There was an increase in attacks, hate speech and biased media reports against minority religious groups -- Christians and Muslims -- by the BBS," said an attorney who works on behalf of persecuted believers. "In the south of Sri Lanka alone, more than 10 churches have been forced to close down."

Publication date: June 5, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - June 5, 2013