Religion Today Summaries - March 19, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 19, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • UK Churches Soon Forced to Conduct Gay Marriages?
  • Eight Vietnamese Christians Imprisoned, State Media Calls Sentence 'Benevolent'
  • Egyptian Christians Live in Fear as Islamic Government Takes Control
  • Nuns Traumatized After School Attack in Egypt


UK Churches Soon Forced to Conduct Gay Marriages?

Church of England lawyers say a law to allow same-sex marriages in England would force Christians to conduct gay weddings in church, the Daily Mail reports. As Parliament seems "in due course to legislate for same-sex marriage, as recently suggested by the Prime Minister," CofE lawyers insist that existing equality laws would make churches offer weddings to gay couples if the law permitted them to marry. The equality laws, introduced in 2007 and then enshrined in the 2010 Equality Act, have already disrupted 11 Roman Catholic adoption agencies because they are no longer allowed to decline to place children with gay couples. However, Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly stated that no church would be compelled to provide same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Eight Vietnamese Christians Imprisoned, State Media Calls Sentence 'Benevolent'

A Vietnamese court sentenced eight Christians to up to two-and-a-half years in prison for "disturbing the social order and promoting separatism," adding that the sentence was "humanitarian" and "benevolent" because it could have been harsher, Asia News reports. After the Christians are released, they will each spend an additional two years under house arrest. They were arrested in May 2011 in one of the clearest recent examples of the country's violence against its ethnic minorities; authorities cracked down on Christians of the Hmong minority in the country's northwest, leaving at least least 49 people dead and arresting hundreds. Officials were quoted as saying that the Hmong were lured by unidentified "individuals with ill intentions" who spread rumors that a "king" would arrive and lead them to a promised land.

Egyptian Christians Live in Fear as Islamic Government Takes Control

As Muslim extremists have seized control in the Arab Spring revolution that ousted longtime president Hosni Mubarak, thousands of Egypt's Coptic Christians have fled the country -- but those who remain say conditions have steadily gotten worse, The Blaze reports. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an activist group tracking attacks on Egypt's religious minorities says Christians in Egypt are being targeted, as evident in recent mob attacks on churches and Christian neighborhoods and Christians being jailed for "insulting" the Islamic prophet Mohammed or performing illegal church repairs. Additionally, under sharia (Islamic law), non-Muslims in Egypt have been denied many basic rights and legal equalities, forcing Christians to take jobs shunned by Muslims, such as collecting garbage, repairing sewers and scavenging in trash dumps.

Nuns Traumatized After School Attack in Egypt

Two nuns in Upper Egypt faced "unimaginable fear" -- with one later hospitalized over the emotional trauma -- when 1,500 Muslim villagers brandishing swords and knives trapped them inside a guesthouse of a privately run public school last week and threatened to burn them out, Compass Direct News reports. Accusing the nuns of building a church at the site, the mob chanted Islamic slogans as they surrounded the guesthouse. From three mosques near the school, people began shouting over loudspeakers in minarets, summoning more Muslims to join the mob. The nuns, volunteer teachers at the school, barricaded themselves inside for about eight hours, suffering cuts and bruises during the attack. School workers hid a third nun from the mob in a separate building on the campus out of fear they would attack her as well. The next day, assailants frightened children at the school; attendance has since dropped by more than a third.

Publication date: March 19, 2012