Religion Today Summaries - January 17, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - January 17, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Refuses to Deny Christ in Exchange for Freedom
  • Tebow's 316 Yards Leads to Internet Salvations
  • John 3:16 Ad Runs During Tebow Game
  • Iranian Cleric: 'Christianity Most Horrifying Intelligence Organization in the World'


Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Refuses to Deny Christ in Exchange for Freedom

Iran has once again asked imprisoned Christian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani to renounce his faith and accept the Islamic prophet Muhammad as his savior with the promise of securing his release, but Nadarkhani has refused, the Christian Post reports. "The latest attempt to pressure Pastor Yousef to acknowledge Muhammad as a messenger of God violates both the Iranian constitution and various principles of international law, to which Iran is obliged to uphold," said Tiffany Barrans, international legal director at the American Center for Law and Justice. Iran has received international criticism for violating international civil and political rights laws inNadarkhani's case, which is still awaiting a verdict from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Tebow's 316 Yards Leads to Internet Salvations

When Christian quarterback Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards Jan. 8 in the Denver Broncos' upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL playoffs, John 3:16 was the No. 1 searched item on Google by the next morning -- and as it turns out, some of those searches led to decisions of eternal significance, Baptist Press reports. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) reported that more than 150 people accepted Jesus as their Savior as a result of searching for John 3:16 on Google and then clicking on an ad for the BGEA's website The ad was set to appear when people searched for John 3:16, and data showed that in total, 8,000 people searching for the verse clicked on The ad also shows up in Google searches such as "What happens when I die?" and "Does God exist?" and the website has tallied more than 1 million visitors since its launch in May 2011.

John 3:16 Ad Runs During Tebow Game

During Saturday's NFL playoff game between Tim Tebow's Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots, pro-family organization Focus on the Family ran an ad in which children recited John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." According to preliminary numbers, the game was "the highest-rated AFC divisional playoff in 18 years," with a total of more than 29 million viewers. The ad came just a week after Tebow passed for 316 yards in a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, causing John 3:16 to be the most searched item on Google and leading to a number of Internet salvations. "There has been a lot of buzz lately about what John 3:16 says, and we wanted to help people understand it without having to run to their computer to look it up," said Focus on the Family's Jim Daly. "We hope this helps everyone understand some numbers are more important than the ones on the scoreboard."

Iranian Cleric: 'Christianity Most Horrifying Intelligence Organization in the World'

In a conference on "new-age cults" in Varamin, a county south of Tehran, Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi pleaded with Iranians to stop the spread of Christianity, and Islamic cleric Akhond Mohsen Alizadeh stated that evangelical Christianity was "the most horrifying intelligence and security organization in the world," ASSIST News Service reports. "We should not allow these cults to question Islamic jurisprudence," Alizadeh said. "Christian preachers answer the questions and doubts of youth in their own interest and try to attract them." According to Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News, "What is obvious is the fear and inability of the Islamic Republic in preventing the spread of Christianity among Iranian youth."

Publication date: January 17, 2012