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Religion Today Summaries - March 21, 2012

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 21, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Christian American Teacher Killed By Gunmen in Yemen for 'Proselytizing'
  • Obama Opposes N.C. Marriage Amendment
  • Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Alive as International Pressure Expands
  • Three Imprisoned Iranian Christian Converts Released on Bail


Christian American Teacher Killed By Gunmen in Yemen for 'Proselytizing'

Al Qaeda-linked militants who claimed responsibility for the shooting death of an American teacher in Yemen March 18 said he was targeted for being "one of the biggest American proselytizers" in the Muslim-majority nation, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Joel Shrum, an English-language teacher for the International Training Development Center, was known by Yemenis to be a devout Christian, and his employers said he was a "very professional employee who highly respected the Islamic religion." Sources said Shrum would openly talk about his faith, but was largely seen as a beloved figure who devoted himself to his work. The killing came just days after Saudi Arabia's top Islamic leader called for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula, where Yemen is located. Yemen's constitution does not protect freedom of religion.

Obama Opposes N.C. Marriage Amendment

President Obama says he opposes a proposed North Carolina constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman -- an amendment that polls show a majority of the state's voters support, Baptist Press reports. The amendment will be on the May 8 primary ballot, and is aimed at preventing a state judge from redefining marriage to include gay couples, as has happened in Massachusetts, Iowa and Connecticut. Twenty-nine states have similar amendments in their respective constitutions. Cameron French, a spokesman for the Obama North Carolina campaign, said, "While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that [he] has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples." Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said it was becoming more obvious that Obama, despite public statements, supported gay marriage. "It's time for the president to be honest with the American people and explain that what he really supports is the redefinition, and ultimate destruction, of man-woman marriage," Perkins said.

Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Alive as International Pressure Expands

The American Center for Law and Justice reports that as of March 13, imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was still alive, as international pressure continues to build calling for his release. The Vice President of Brazil and a Brazilian senator have been working diplomatically with Iran's ambassador to Brazil, attempting to secure Nadarkhani's immediate release from death row. Additionally, United Nations Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed called for Nadarkhani's release during a recent presentation to the Human Rights Council, a call echoed by many other nations in attendance. According to the ACLJ, Pastor Nadarkhani's story has now reached 204 countries and territories around the world, accounting for more than 90 percent of the U.N. member states.

Three Imprisoned Iranian Christian Converts Released on Bail

An Iranian court has agreed to temporarily release on a large sum of bail three Christian converts who were imprisoned for 36 days in Shiraz, ASSIST News Service reports. The three detainees -- one a 17-year-old -- were each asked by the Revolutionary Court to pay bail in the amount of 100,000,000 Toman (approximately US$100,000) each, and were temporarily released March 14. They were among many Christians arrested in Shiraz following a raid by authorities on the home of a Christian convert who hosted church gatherings; the court refused to release on bail the rest of the detainees, instead transferring them to different prisons, separating them and throwing them "into the worst ward[s] where murderers and thieves are held." Sources report their trials might be held sometime in April, and no precise information is available on their current condition.

Publication date: March 21, 2012