Religion Today Summaries - July 15, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 15, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Iran Pastor Faces Execution, Church Officials Say
  • Church of England Gives Green Light for Women Bishops
  • Political Clash Grows over Ground Zero Mosques
  • 67 Congressional Members Defend National Day of Prayer

Iran Pastor Faces Execution, Church Officials Say

Worthy News reports that an Iranian pastor may face execution for his Christian activities. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and his wife Fatemeh Pasandideh were arrested in June in northwestern Iran as officials crack down on house churches. Two judges say he is "liable to capital punishment" pending further investigation. The pastor usually speaks on condition of anonymity to BosNewsLife amid security concerns. The threat overshadowed the release of two other Christians from an isolated security prison. Several believers have allegedly been mistreated. "We have learned that information that [security forces] have been using substances to extract confessions from Christians," the senior pastor said.

Church of England Gives Green Light for Women Bishops

Religion News Service reports that the Church of England will proceed with legislation to allow the ordination of women bishops, despite fierce opposition from Anglican traditionalists. After a marathon, 12-hour debate in York, the church's General Synod on Monday rejected calls for further delays in developing a draft law to allow female bishops. The earliest women bishops could be ordained is 2014. The decision did little to tamp down furious infighting that some fear could prompt conservatives to defect to the Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' attempt at a compromise -- allowing conservative congregations to be overseen by male bishops -- had been rejected Saturday. Williams told London's Daily Mail newspaper Tuesday (July 13) that avoiding a schism over the contentious issue would be "desperately difficult."

Political Clash Grows over Ground Zero Mosque

Religion News Service reports that a major political clash is brewing in New York over a planned mosque near Ground Zero. Republicans have demanded an investigation into the mosque's funding, but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called such a probe "un-American." Bloomberg stood by decisions by city and neighborhood officials to support the construction of $100 million Cordoba House, a 15-story community center with an auditorium, art exhibition space and mosque. The project is part of Cordoba Initiative, an organization seeking to foster peaceful Muslim-Western relations, and the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA). It's a house of worship, but we are at war with al-Qaida," Long Island Rep. Peter King told The Associated Press. "I think the 9/11 families have a right to know where the funding comes from; I think there are significant questions."

67 Congressional Members Defend National Day of Prayer reports that 63 members of the House of Representatives and four senators have joined in an amicus brief to declare their support for the National Day of Prayer. The case reached a fever pitch on April 15 when U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison, Wis., ruled the annual observance unconstitutional. "(The ACLJ is) representing Democrats, Republicans, some moderate, some conservative, senators, who are signing on because the National Day of Prayer has been part of our congressional act(ion) -- an act of the president -- since the 1950s, officially," Jordan Sekulow, attorney at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Obama's administration has appealed the case. Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says congressional support for the case just shows that government is working "hand-in-glove with Christian, right-wing and evangelical organizations."