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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 14, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 14, 2010

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

In today's edition:

  • Asia Bibi Faces Threat of Suicide Attack
  • University Changes Policy Requiring Students to Sign Abortion Pledge
  • Pope Appoints New Haiti Archbishop One Year after Quake
  • VFW Sues Obama Administration over Disputed Cross Memorial


Asia Bibi Faces Threat of Suicide Attack

Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who has been sentenced to death on blasphemy convictions, now faces the threat of a suicide attack inside the Pakistani jail where she is imprisoned. ASSIST News Service reports that the the "Moaviya group," a militant organization, allegedly plans to mount a suicide attack on Sheikhupura district jail, where 45-year-old Asia is being held. Punjab police and jail authorities subsequently beefed up security due to the intelligence report and the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer last week. Taseer was shot and killed by his bodyguard, who cited Taseer's support for Asia Bibi and the repeal of Pakistan's blasphemy laws as his motive. No one has been officially executed on a death sentence for blasphemy, but 35 people - including Taseer - have been killed since 1990 on blasphemy accusations or for supporting those accused of blasphemy.

University Changes Policy Requiring Students to Sign Abortion Pledge

Vanderbilt University has clarified the application for its nurse residency program, assuring applicants that they do not have to assist with abortion procedures. The Christian Post reports that two unnamed students filed a complaint against the school over a stipulation in the application process that stated, "If you are chosen for the Nurse Residency Program in the Women's Health track, you will be expected to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy." Alliance Defense Fund, which helped the students file the complaint, praised the "change" in policy but criticized the university for its refusal to admit wrongdoing. Federal law ensures that medical personal may refuse to perform a procedure on the grounds of moral conscience. The application now assures applicatns that accommodations can be made for those who refuse to assist with abortion procedures.

Pope Appoints New Haiti Archbishop One Year after Quake

Religion News Service reports that Pope Benedict XVI marked the first anniversary of the Haiti earthquake on Wednesday by naming a new archbishop for the country's capital city. Archbishop-elect Guire Poulard will lead the Catholic Church in Port-au-Prince, succeeding Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, who was killed in last year's quake.     Recalling the disaster, which killed more than 230,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless, the pope on Wednesday offered Haitians a word of "hope in the current particularly difficult circumstances." The quake destroyed Port-au-Prince's Catholic cathedral along with dozens of other churches. "The time has come to rebuild, not only material structures but, and above all, civil, social and religious coexistence," Benedict said, in a statement read at a Mass in Haiti by the Vatican's Cardinal Robert Sarah.

VFW Sues Obama Administration over Disputed Cross Memorial

The Veterans of Foreign Wars has sued the Obama administration, saying it is dragging its feet on transferring ownership of land under a controversial California war memorial. The Supreme Court ruled last April that a congressionally approved land swap involving a five-foot memorial cross in the Mojave Desert Preserve was constitutional, but Religion News Service reports that legal wrangling over it has continued. "Despite  the reversal by the Supreme Court, the government has refused to give effect to the land-transfer statute and transfer the land upon which the memorial stands to the VFW," reads the complaint filed Tuesday in a California district court. Officials from the Justice Department could not be reached for comment. Shortly after the high court ruling, the cross was stolen from the site and has not been replaced. The VFW has unsuccessfully sought to have the memorial rebuilt with a new cross.