Religion Today Summaries - February 21, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - February 21, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Churches Forced to Stop Farsi Worship in Tehran, Iran
  • Burma: Continuing Human Rights Violations Against Christian Civilians
  • Vermont Introduces Same-Sex Divorce Bill
  • Influence of U.S. Constitution Declining Globally


Churches Forced to Stop Farsi Worship in Tehran, Iran

Iran's Ministry of Intelligence has ordered the last two officially registered churches holding Friday Farsi-language services in Tehran to discontinue them, Compass Direct News reports. Friday services in Tehran attracted the city's converts to Christianity as well as Muslims interested in Christianity, because Friday is most Iranians' day off during the week. Officials told Emmanuel Protestant Church and St. Peter's Evangelical Church Feb. 10 that they could no longer hold Friday services, but could hold services on Sunday -- a working day when most Iranians are not able to attend. "This decision means there are now no Farsi-language services on Fridays in any officially registered church in Tehran," a report from Middle East Concern said. The restrictions have cut the two churches' memberships by half, sources said.

Burma: Continuing Human Rights Violations Against Christian Civilians

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports ongoing and continuous grave human rights violations being committed by the Burma Army against Christian civilians in Kachin State and other ethnic states. The Burma Army has been waging an offensive against ethnic civilians since breaking a 17-year ceasefire with theKachin Independent Organization/Army in June. In a recent three-week fact-finding visit to the area, CSW heard first-hand testimonies from internally displaced people from Kachin and Shan states of killings, torture, rape and the destruction of churches, homes and villages by the Burma Army. "These were unarmed civilians, in their paddy fields or homes, who were not engaged in armed combat in any form," said Benedict Rogers, CSW's East Asia team leader. "The accounts of torture and other abuses are a cause for very grave concern and ... require an urgent and sustained response from the international community."

Vermont Introduces Same-Sex Divorce Bill

Twelve years ago, Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to legalize civil unions, granting all the basic rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples. It followed up in 2009 by becoming the first state to legalize gay marriage without being instructed to do so by a court. As a result, it became a destination spot for same-sex couples looking to tie the knot. Now, it could also become the first state to grant same-sex divorces, WORLD News Service reports. According to the bill H. 758, which passed the Vermont House Judiciary Committee with a 9-2 vote, "there are many same-sex couples who established a civil union or married in Vermont who are no longer together, yet they continue to be legally bound with no recourse other than moving to Vermont and becoming residents." Under current law, same-sex couples have to live in Vermont for at least six months before they can dissolve their same-sex unions, but H. 758 would expedite the process by allowing them to check a box on their application forms in the future.

Influence of U.S. Constitution Declining Globally

The U.S. Constitution was once a model for other nations when writing or updating their own constitutions, but according to a new study, that influence has declined dramatically around the world, the Christian Post reports. The influence of the U.S. Constitution on other constitutions peaked in the 1970s, but has done "a nosedive" since the 1990s, said David Law, professor of law and political science at Washington University and a co-author of the study, "The Declining Influence of the United States Constitution." According to Law, the main reason for the decline is that other nations feel "the text of the [U.S. Constitution] is old and there are other, better examples of well-written constitutions that [they] can emulate."

Publication date: February 21, 2012