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Religion Today Summaries - July 15, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 15, 2009

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

  • Episcopal Church to Affirm Gay Clergy
  • Iran Interrupts Christian Satellite Channel
  • Eight Arrested in Xinjiang House Church Raid
  • Vatican-Backed Newspaper Applauds 'Harry Potter'

Episcopal Church to Affirm Gay Clergy

USA Today reports that leaders at the Episcopal General Convention approved a measure Monday that laid the foundation for the ordination of gays and lesbians in the church. The bishops voted 2-to-1 that "God has called and may call" to ministry gays in committed lifelong relationships. This pushes the Episcopal Church even farther away from the larger Anglican Communion, which encouraged the American branch to continue its moratorium on gay ordination. The Episcopal gay advocacy group Integrity, said in a statement Monday night that the declaration "effectively ends" the temporary prohibition on gays in ministry. Currently, Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who was elected in 2003, is the only openly gay bishop in the church.

Iran Interrupts Christian Satellite Channel

The Christian Post reports that the Iranian government's censorship of Internet and cell phone services has disrupted a Christian TV satellite channel as well. Terry Ascott, CEO of SAT-7 International, said the government has managed to shut down strategic channels and mediums without jamming satellites that would affect the entire Middle East. “Somehow they have developed a new technology to simply and simultaneously block access to multiple channels in the major cities – which is the first time we have seen such a thing,” Ascott said on Friday. Demonstrations against the June 12 election results have continued despite police intervention and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's certification of the results, which gave the victory to current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a landslide.

Eight Arrested in Xinjiang House Church Raid

ASSIST News Service reports that a house church in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was raided July 3. Eight Christians were arrested by Chinese officials. Two of the eight believers from Beitun House Church have been released so far. Four believers are still being held in a detention center in an undisclosed location, and two Chinese American missionaries are missing. ChinaAid says that due to the riots that erupted on July 5, in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, ChinaAid has had difficulty contacting believers, as the government cut off Internet and phone connections within the region. ChinaAid urges Christians to pray that the "love of Jesus Christ will bring peace and reconciliation between the Han Chinese and Uygurs."

Vatican-Backed Newspaper Applauds 'Harry Potter'

The Christian Post reports that the latest Harry Potter has some surprising fans at the Vatican's L'Osservatore publication. “It is more likely that at the end of the viewing or reading, rather than the allure of magic ... what remains are the scenes that evoke values such as friendship, altruism, loyalty, and the gift of self,” wrote L'Osservatore on Monday. The semi-official newspaper criticized the last film in the series for its "wrong and malicious" portrayal of a hero as well as its endorsement of witchcraft. By contrast, L'Osservatore noted the clear difference between sympathetic good and deadly evil in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."