Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 20, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 20, 2009

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

  • 7 States Sue Over Rule on Health Workers
  • China: Dying Christian Not Allowed to See Imprisoned Wife
  • Rescued Pakistani Girls Face Social Rejection
  • Evangelicals, Progressives Announce Common Agenda

7 States Sue Over Rule on Health Workers

The Christian Post reports that seven states are suing the federal government, hoping to avoid cooperation with federal "conscience clause" issued last month by the Health and Human Services Department. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal filed on behalf of the states. According to Blumenthal, the regulations "are flawed and defective" and would "unconstitutionally and unconscionably interfere with women's health care rights." The Bush administration, which pushed the rule, says it backs previous federal regulations, and is meant to ensure that "federal funds don't flow to providers who violate those laws," according to the Post. "Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said last month when the rule was issued.

China: Dying Christian Not Allowed to See Imprisoned Wife

ASSIST News Service reports that Chinese prison officials have refused to let an elderly Christian man say goodbye to his imprisoned wife. Shuang Shuying, 79, was sentenced to two years in prison for “intentional damage of properties” in February 2007 while her son, Pastor Hua Huiqi, was in prison. She was walking to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) office to inquire about her son when a PSB car suddenly drove towards her. She held her cane protectively in front of herself, accidentally striking the vehicle. Her husband, Hua Zaichen, is 91. The couple had been targeted for years because of their work with the poor and kindness to other persecuted Christians.

Rescued Pakistani Girls Face Social Rejection

Compass Direct News reports that the ordeal of two teenage Christian sisters in Pakistan is over after Muslims allegedly abducted and raped them and forced them to convert to Islam, but they fear a future of societal rejection. Parvisha Masih, 18, and Sanam Masih, 14, said three Muslim men kidnapped them last November, raping them several times during two weeks of captivity. “We are happy to return to the family, but we are feeling ashamed because there is no respect for us in society now,” Parvisha Masih said. “We don’t want to go back to school and have to face our friends.” They face a long legal battle that will inevitably bring them into contact with their captors – who have already assaulted their family in court. “We feel very afraid, and we are still receiving threats,” Parvisha Masih told Compass.

Evangelicals, Progressives Announce Common Agenda

Religion News Service reports that an evangelical-progressive coalition has developed an agenda aimed at moving beyond past divisions on hot-button social issues to seek policy changes on abortion, torture and other issues. After two years of discussion, they have concluded that their "Come Let Us Reason Together" agenda will include reducing abortion, protecting employment rights of gays and lesbians, renouncing torture and immigration reform. "Though I focus on the ideal for marriage as between one man and one woman, ... I also believe that each American citizen has the right to earn a living without discrimination," said Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter. Evangelical leaders who do not condone gay marriage said they could nonetheless support greater workplace protections for gays and lesbians, provided there is an exemption for faith-based employers.