Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 2, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Apr. 2, 2009

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Three Iranian Converts Told to Stop ‘Christian Activities’
  • US Reporters Face North Korea Trial
  • 'Islamopalian' Priest Removed from Ministry
  • U.S. Plans to Join U.N. Human Rights Council

Three Iranian Converts Ordered to Stop ‘Christian Activities’  

Declaring three Iranian Christians guilty of cooperating with “anti-government movements,” a court in Shiraz on March 10 ordered the converts to discontinue Christian activities and stop propagating their faith, Compass Direct News reports. An Islamic Revolutionary Court judge handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence with a five-year probation to Seyed Allaedin Hussein, Homayoon Shokouhi, and Seyed Amir Hussein Bob-Annari. The judge said he would enforce their prison sentence and try them as “apostates,” or those who leave Islam, if they violate terms of their probation – including a ban on contacting one another. A new penal code under consideration by the Iranian Parliament includes a bill that would require the death penalty for apostasy. “The warning that they will be ‘arrested and tried as apostates’ if they continue their Christian activities is quite chilling,” said a regional analyst who requested anonymity.

US Reporters Face North Korea Trial

ASSIST News Service reports that two U.S. reporters held in North Korea earlier this month will be tried for illegal entry and “hostile acts," the country's state-run news agency says. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said preparations were under way for indictments and a trial. Euna Lee and Laura Ling were detained on March 17 on North Korea's border with China. The journalists had traveled to China to report on North Korean refugees in northeastern China, according to Chun Ki Won, a Christian pastor in Seoul who helped arrange their trip, and Lee Hark Joon, a reporter with The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's leading daily, who met them in Seoul. South Korean television station YTN and unnamed diplomatic sources said that North Korean guards crossed the Tumen river into Chinese territory to arrest the journalists. Pyongyang says the reporters crossed its border illegally.

'Islamopalian' Priest Removed from Ministry

The Institute on Religion and Democracy reports that a controversial priest who claimed both Muslim and Christian faith was permanently removed from ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church Wednesday. The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding of Seattle made her profession of faith in Islam in March 2006 and insisted that her new beliefs did not conflict with Christianity. Redding had been under an inhibition from ministry since the summer of 2007 at the direction of Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island. The Episcopal Church has recently been forced to address a similar controversy with the election of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester to be bishop of Northern Michigan. Thew Forrester has received a Zen Buddhist lay ordination. "Releasing Redding from her vows and concluding her ordained ministry within the Episcopal Church was the only way to resolve the situation due to her intractable position that she was both a Muslim and a Christian," said Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion & Democracy.

U.S. Plans to Join U.N. Human Rights Council

The Christian Post reports that the Obama administration will run for an elected seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council this year, taking a diplomatic approach to human rights issues. The Bush administration dismissed the council as ineffective at best. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touted the decision as a departure from unilateral action in favor of advancing the universal "vision of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights.” The council's most recently approved the contested “defamation of religions” resolution. Opponents say the resolution will be used to silence religions besides Islam through anti-conversion and blasphemy laws, ultimately destroying religious freedom instead of upholding it. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) sponsored the proposal.