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Religion Today Summaries - July 22, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 22, 2008

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

  • Saddleback Church to Host McCain, Obama
  • Iran: Tortured Christian Flees
  • Dobson Shifts, May Endorse McCain
  • Churches Unite in Mass Vigils for N. Korean Refugees

Saddleback Church to Host McCain, Obama

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, respective presumed Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, will end the primary season by making their first joint appearance of the 2008 campaign at Saddleback Church on Saturday, Aug.16 at the Saddleback Civil Forum on Leadership and Compassion, according to a press release by RickWarrenNews.com. “This is a critical time for our nation and the American people deserve to hear both candidates speak from the heart – without interruption – in a civil and thoughtful format absent the partisan ‘gotcha’ questions that typically produce heat instead of light," said Dr. Rick Warren, founding pastor of the California mega church and moderator for the event. Warren will be sole moderator, and has said he will raise questions "beyond what political reporters typically ask," covering topics such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate and human rights.

Iran: Tortured Christian Flees

Compass Direct News reports that days after his release from a month of interrogations and severe torture under secret police custody, Iranian Christian Mohsen Namvar has fled across the border into Turkey with his family. Traveling by train, the badly beaten Christian arrived July 2 in eastern Turkey with his wife and son. Namvar, 44, had been held incommunicado by a branch of Sepah (the Iranian Revolutionary Guards) from May 31 until June 26, when authorities told his family they were releasing him “temporarily.” Although the secret police demanded $43,000 in bail, officers refused to issue a court receipt for the family’s cash payment. At the time of his release, Namvar was experiencing fever, severe back pain, extremely high blood pressure, uncontrollable shaking of his limbs and recurring short-term memory loss. “I have no doubt they wanted to kill me,” Namvar told Compass.

Dobson Shifts, May Endorse McCain

Christian conservative leader Dr. James Dobson has reversed his earlier rejection of Republican presumptive nominee John McCain, and may go even further than that, according to the Associated Press. "I never thought I would hear myself saying this," Dobson said in a radio broadcast to air Monday. "... While I am not endorsing Senator John McCain, the possibility is there that I might." The statement was part of a radio broadcast with Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dobson said that while neither candidate is consistent with his views, "Barack Obama contradicts and threatens everything I believe about the institution of the family and what is best for the nation." Dobson also said that McCain's choice of running mate may influence an endorsement.

Churches Unite in Mass Vigils for N. Korean Refugees

The Christian Post reports that 43 Korean Church Coalition churches nationwide held prayer vigils last night for the "voiceless" North Korean refugees in China, joining more than a thousand KCC churches in South Korea that night. These refugees are frequently abused, trafficked or violently repatriated by Chinese authorities, according to reports. “Through these vigils, KCC will speak on and pray on behalf of the voiceless, the North Korean refugees residing in China, who have no voice of their own,” said Sam Kim, executive director of KCC. The vigils were part of a campaign to raise awareness during the Beijing Olympics, called “Let My People Go Before 2008 Beijing Olympics." According to KCC president the Rev. Peter I. Sohn, China has refused to grant refugees even the minimal protection offered by international law.