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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 14, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 14, 2008

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

  • Some Evangelicals, Catholics Applaud DNC's Abortion Language Change
  • Death Threats, Damages Hit Churches in Ecuador
  • Iran: Christian Couple Dies after Police Raid
  • Chicago Archdiocese Agrees to $12.7M Settlement

Some Evangelicals, Catholics Applaud DNC's Abortion Language Change

Religion News Service reports that progressive evangelical and Catholic leaders voiced their support for the Democratic Party's platform on abortion, citing new provisions that emphasize measures intended to reduce the number of abortions in the U.S. such as women's health care, adoption services and income support programs. A draft 51-page platform was approved Sunday, and will be voted on at the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 25-28. While the platform again affirms a woman's right to choose, it differs from previous years by offering more tangible support for addressing the issue of abortion. The platform calls for programs to "reduce the number of unintended pregnancies" and stresses the need for income support and adoption programs. Rev. Jim Wallis, head of the evangelical group Sojourners, Orlando megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, and several other pastors praised the changes.

Death Threats, Damages Hit Churches in Ecuador

Catholic authorities report death threats and several acts of vandalism of church property in response to church opposition to several articles in Ecuador’s proposed new constitution, according to Compass Direct News. In the port city of Guayaquil, a group of people were reported to have entered a chapel, grabbed the Eucharistic host, tore, spat and stepped on it. That vandalism was reportedly the third that has occurred in recent weeks as frustrated supporters of ruling socialist party Alianza PAIS lash out at the Catholic Church for criticizing their newly-proposed constitution. Similar desecrations were reported in recent weeks at two other churches. Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza of Guayaquil has received numerous death threats, as has pro-life leader Amparo Medina, who recently received a dead rat inside of a shoebox with a note attached that read “death to pro-lifers.” In addition, the president of the Never Impunity Movement (Movimiento Impunidad Jamás) has called for the archbishop’s arrest and “preventative imprisonment” because of the church’s opposition to the constitution.

Iran: Christian Couple Dies after Police Raid

ASSIST New Service reports that a church leader and his wife have died as a result of injuries sustained from a police raid on their home in Isfehan, Iran. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), citing the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), says Abbas Amiri, 62, died in hospital on July 30, 2008, in Isfehan, Iran.  His wife died of similar injuries on Aug. 3. Amiri was one of a number of church members who was physically assaulted by police officers who raided his home in Malek Shahr on July 27 during a Sunday gathering of the house church. The human rights group says 2008 has seen a serious increase in the number of detentions and physical mistreatment of non-Muslims in Iran. Two church leaders who were arrested in Shiraz in May 2008 are still being kept in poor conditions, with no charges brought against them.

Chicago archdiocese agrees to $12.7 million settlement

Reuters reports that the Chicago diocese of the Catholic church has reached a $12.7 million settlement with 16 sexual abuse victims. "My hope is that these settlements will help the survivors and their families begin to heal and move forward," Chicago Cardinal Francis George, head of the second-largest U.S. archdiocese, said in a statement. "I apologize again today to the survivors and their families and to the whole Catholic community. We must continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of the children in our care," said George, who became the highest-ranking church official to give a legal deposition when he was questioned in this case. U.S. archdioceses have paid almost $2 billion in settlements pertaining to sexual abuse by priests and potential knowledge of dioceses.