Religion Today Daily Headlines - March 18, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - March 18, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Wife of American Pastor Jailed in Iran Pleads for Help From U.S.
  • Atheist Group Sues U.S. Government Demanding 'In God We Trust' Be Removed From Currency
  • Libyan Militias Torch Benghazi Church


Wife of American Pastor Jailed in Iran Pleads for Help From U.S.

The wife of an American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran told lawmakers Friday in emotional testimony on Capitol Hill that she's "disappointed" with the State Department's lackluster involvement in the case -- as her lawyers accused the government of going completely "AWOL" in the face of Saeed Abedini's plight, Fox News reports. Naghmeh Abedini described how her two young children could not understand what happened to their father, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in January: "They kept saying, 'Does Daddy not love us anymore?' ... And I had to tell them that he was in prison because he loved Jesus." The description of the State Department's involvement in the case provided by witnesses Friday stood in stark contrast to what administration officials have claimed in response to questions from the media. While U.S. officials have claimed they're pressing for Abedini's release, the witnesses said a State Department desk officer last year told Naghmeh "there is nothing the United States government can do for you." Attorney Jordan Sekulow said the same officer called Naghmeh as she was boarding the plane for Washington on Thursday to tell her, "You've never asked for our help." The State Department also declined to attend the hearing Friday despite being invited. "The State Department is AWOL," fellow attorney Jay Sekulow claimed. "I'm disappointed that our president and our State Department has not fully engaged in this case," Naghmeh said. "I'm disappointed that this great country is not doing more to free my husband -- a U.S. citizen. I expect more from our government."

Atheist Group Sues U.S. Government Demanding 'In God We Trust' Be Removed From Currency

A prominent atheist activist group has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to have the historic phrase "In God We Trust" removed from the nation's currency, the Christian News Network reports. The Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a press release this week about the suit, advising that the case is being handled by well-known atheist Michael Newdow, who has filed numerous lawsuits challenging the mixture of God and government. The complaint, which has been filed in the U.S. District Courti n the Southern District of New York, claims the motto violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution as it serves to proselytize unbelievers. Those filing the lawsuit, which include seven children and their parents, along with other enttities and the group New York City Atheists, state they do not like being forced to look at the name of God on their money every time they make a purchase. "The motto necessarily excludes atheists and others who don't believe in one god or a god," FFRF asserts. "Our government is prohibited from endorsing one religion over another but also prohibited from endorsing religion over nonreligion." The motto "In God We Trust" has appeared on U.S. coins since 1864 and began being printed on paper currency in 1957.

Libyan Militias Torch Benghazi Church

In the latest instance of Christian persecution in Libya, Islamists torched a church attended by Egyptian Christians in Benghazi on Friday, CBN News reports. Witnesses said militants fired shots in the air before setting fire to the church in the downtown area of the eastern Libyan city. The fire caused no casualties, but burned the two-story building to the ground. A security official in Benghazi says his forces stopped the attackers before they could do more damage. The attack comes only a week after around 100 Christians in the predominantly Muslim country were detained and tortured by Islamist militias for allegedly spreading the gospel.

Publication date: March 18, 2013