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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 17, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 17, 2009

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

  • Iran: Women Await Verdict for Apostate Charges
  • Virginia Jail Agrees to Stop Censoring Religious Mail
  • Mexican Christians Jailed for Acteal Massacre Win Release
  • Father Says Pastor 'Brainwashed' His Christian Daughter

Iran: Women Await Verdict for Apostate Charges

Mission News Network reports that two Christian women who refused to recant their faith have been send back to the harsh Evin prison to await their verdict. Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh stood trial for their faith in an Iranian court on Aug. 8, but have been imprisoned since March 5. "They were instructed very clearly to renounce their faith; in fact, they were told that they needed to renounce Christianity verbally, and they also needed to write it out and sign it. They both replied 'No, we will not deny our faith,'" said Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs. "And interestingly, ‘We have no regrets' is another thing they said in the courtroom." Apostates can be punished with death in Iran. The women argued that that they never embraced the Muslim faith of their parents, despite conventions that dictate that the children of Muslim parents are also Muslim.

Virginia Jail Agrees to Stop Censoring Religious Mail

Religion News Service reports that a Virginia jail will stop censoring religious mail after protests that clerks had turned Bible-quoting missives from an inmate's mother into tattered strips of paper signed "Love, Mom." Rappahannock Regional Jail authorities agreed to change the policy after receiving a letter signed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Rutherford Institute, Prison Fellowship, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the American Civil Liberties Union and others. Prisons may block writings that pose security threats, including hate speech and X-rated images, but must allow access to otherwise religious materials, according to several court rulings and federal law. Jail officials said the censorship was motivated by a policy that prohibits inmates from receiving swaths of computer printouts, which had been used to clog toilets and otherwise harass the guards.

Mexican Christians Jailed for Acteal Massacre Win Release

Compass Direct News reports that at least 20 men accused of participating in a massacre in Chiapas state in December 1997 left prison early Friday morning. Their release came amid concerns over threats of violence at their home communities near San Cristobal de las Casas, following a Supreme Court ruling yesterday that their convictions violated fundamental norms of justice. The release of the 20 men, most of them evangelical Christians, came after Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in a 4-1 decision that they had been convicted in unfair trials in which prosecutors fabricated testimony and illegally obtained evidence. Area evangelicals view the imprisoned Christians as caught between survivors clamoring for convictions and government police and military forces eager to shift blame away from their minions following the Dec. 22, 1997 killing of 45 civilians in Acteal village.

Father Says Pastor 'Brainwashed' His Christian Daughter

The Christian Post reports that the Muslim father of a teenage girl who converted to Christianity has denied that he threatened an honor killing. “Honestly, it's not my daughter who is speaking,” Mohamed Bary told central Ohio news station WBNS-TV. “I feel that she has been coached to say these things." He accused a Florida pastor and his wife of brainwashing his daughter, 17-year-old Fathima Rifqa Bary, after they met in a Christian group on Facebook. The teenager fled from Ohio to Florida and told the pastor that she did not expect her parents to report her missing, as her mother allegedly said she was "dead" to them after the conversion came to light. Her older brother, Rilvan, supports with his father's statements. Fathima is currently in a group home with the Florida Department of Children and Families until her next court hearing on Aug. 21.