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Religion Today Summaries - June 16, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 16, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Afghanistan Tops List of Dangerous Countries for Women
  • Turmoil in Middle East Continues, Christian Nervous
  • Iranian Christian Rejoices in Suffering
  • Catholic Agency Announces $7.6M Partnership for South Sudan


Afghanistan Tops List of Dangerous Countries for Women

Christian Today reports that Afghanistan tops a new list of the world's most dangerous countries for women. Experts polled for the list noted physical dangers from ongoing conflicts and NATO airstrikes, as well as health threats, cultural or religious factors, trafficking and sexual violence. Antonella Notari, head of Women Change Makers, a group that supports women social entrepreneurs globally, explained. “Women who do attempt to speak out or take on public roles that challenge ingrained gender stereotypes of what’s acceptable for women to do or not, such as working as policewomen or news broadcasters, are often intimidated or killed,” she said.

Turmoil in Middle East Continues, Christian Nervous

Six months after the Arab Spring began, Open Doors USA reports that many believers are living in fear and dream of emigration. In Libya, most ex-patriot Christians have fled the country. According to church leadership in Tripoli last week, 75 percent of the believers in their fellowship have left. However, all the leaders have remained. They further state that life has become much more complicated because prices of food are skyrocketing. In nearby Algeria, the government has stepped up its campaign against Christians. Eight churches were forcibly closed down in the area of Bejaja, while one Algerian believer was sentenced to five years for handing out a Bible to a neighbor; a sentence without precedent in the entire region. The Christian minority in Algeria makes up less than 0.1 percent of the population.

Iranian Christian Rejoices in Suffering

Iran arrested more than 250 Christians in the last year, but imprisoned only a fraction of them for more than a few days. For Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, imprisonment has dragged on for more than a year and a half. Worthy News reports that Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 for opposing school teaching that forced Christian children to read the Koran. He was convicted before a tribunal, interrogated, tortured, and commanded to renounce Christianity. He was ultimately sentenced to death and is appealing his sentence in Iran's Supreme Court. The pastor encourages others to stand strand despite his treatment. In a letter to the global church, he wrote, "What we are bearing today, is a difficult but not unbearable situation, because He has not tested us more than our faith can endure."

Catholic Agency Announces $7.6M Partnership for South Sudan

Caritas International has announced that its members will provide $7.6 million to provide essential aid to 100,000 people in South Sudan over the next year. The Christian Post reports, however, that aid workers in the area have had difficulty reaching Sudanese in the border between North and South. A statement from Caritas noted the pitfalls facing the new nation, which will officially become an independent state on July 9. “People in the emerging nation face an acute shortage of basic needs as the country lacks infrastructure and faces high levels of poverty and underdevelopment," the statement said. The group's efforts would provide 100,000 people with water, food, shelter, health and education. More than a third of children in South Sudan are underweight, Caritas estimates, and half the population lives in extreme poverty.