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Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 3, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Mar. 3, 2009

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

  • Malaysia to Restore 'Allah' Ban for Christians
  • China: Government Did Not Support Church Meeting, Attendees Say
  • Obama Moves to Rescind 'Conscience Clause'
  • Islamic Lawyers Urge Death Sentence for Egyptian Convert


Malaysia to Restore 'Allah' Ban for Christians

The Associated Press (AP) reports that a Malaysian Christian newspaper's ability to use the word "Allah" to refer to God was short-lived. Government officials approved the use, provided the publication was clearly marked for Christians only, on Feb. 16. Home Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar now says that decision was a mistake. "'Allah' cannot be used for other religions except Islam because it might confuse Muslims. This is the ministry's stand and it hasn't changed," the official, who declined to be named citing protocol. The Herald, the Roman Catholic Church's main newspaper in the country, says it will continue its legal challenge against the ban. Malaysia's Muslim government has often been accused of discrimination against minority Christians and Hindus.

China: Government Did Not Support Church Meeting, Attendees Say

The Christian Post reports that Chinese officials did not actually attend a meeting between its official church and illegal house churches. Attendees say the Chinese government did not approve the meeting or even support it formally. “The conference was a small internal research meeting that an NGO hosted to prepare for a research report on house church issues,” clarified Dr. Fan Yafeng, an academic of law in Beijing who organized and attended the meeting. The meeting had been touted as a landmark reconciliation move between house churches and the government. “Having a meeting like this is our wish; we expect to indirectly pass our opinions to the government and appeal for a legal identity for the house church,” said Wang Shuangyan, a house church leader who attended. “However, the government has not responded, it's true."

Obama Moves to Rescind 'Conscience Clause'

Religion News Service reports that the Obama administration announced Friday (Feb. 27) plans to rescind regulations that allow healthcare workers to abstain from performing medical procedures they object to on moral grounds. The Bush administration authored the rule shortly before leaving office last December, primarily to shield those with religious or moral opposition to abortion. It said healthcare workers cannot be discriminated against for refusing to participate in objectionable procedures, and facilities that did not accommodate employees with objections could lose federal funding. It is one of several abortion-related measures the new White House is seeking to overturn.

Islamic Lawyers Urge Death Sentence for Egyptian Convert

Compass Direct News reports that in the latest hearing of a Muslim-born Egyptian’s effort to officially convert to Christianity, opposing lawyers advocated he be convicted of “apostasy,” or leaving Islam, and sentenced to death. More than 20 Islamic lawyers attended the hearing on Feb. 22 in Maher Ahmad El-Mo’otahssem Bellah El-Gohary’s case to obtain identification papers with Christianity designated as his religious affiliation. El-Gohary could not be present at the hearing because of the personal danger. “I am now in a position where I can’t do anything else,” El-Gohary, who has been in hiding, told Compass. “I have to go [to court] despite the danger. I believe God will protect me. It’s a very hard decision, but I have to go.”