Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Youcef Nadarkhani Has Not Been Executed; ACLJ Denies Rumors
- Laos: Pastor Jailed 13 Years for Christian Activities Set Free
- Pat Robertson: Tornadoes Wouldn’t Happen if More People Prayed
- Rick Warren Responds to 'Chrislam' Claims
Youcef Nadarkhani Has Not Been Executed; ACLJ Denies Rumors
Sources from the American Center for Law and Justice have confirmed that imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is still alive and that rumors of his execution during the weekend were false. Photos purporting to be from Nadarkhani's hanging circulated on the Internet Saturday, but the ACLJ reported the photos were outdated and "demonstratively false." Although Nadarkhani is still alive, the ACLJ still believes his execution order has been issued. International pressure on Iran continues; on March 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring Iran to be in violation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights and the Iranian constitution. "Now is not the time to lose hope, but to remain ardent in prayer and to fight this injustice by raising as much awareness as possible," said Aidan Clay of International Christian Concern.
Laos: Pastor Jailed 13 Years for Christian Activities Set Free
A pastor has been released from prison in Laos after being locked up for nearly 13 years because of his Christian activities, ASSIST News Service reports. Bounchan Kanthavong was set free Feb. 2, having been arrested in June 1999 and sentenced to 12 years in jail for treason and sedition. According to the ministry Barnabas Fund, Bounchan's only "crimes" appear to have been receiving Bible training and sharing his faith with customers in his clothing shop; his actions were perceived as a threat to national security and the traditional Lao religion of spirit worship, and were thus interpreted as treason. Lao authorities warned him repeatedly to stop practicing and sharing Christianity, and ordered him to cease all worship activities at his shop, but his witness led to around 70 people accepting Christ. Following his arrest, his wife took over the leadership of their Christian community, which has grown to more than 3,000 believers today. Bounchan refused to renounce Christ to leave prison early, and his health suffered during his time in jail.
Pat Robertson: Tornadoes Wouldn’t Happen if More People Prayed
In the wake of an outbreak of tornadoes in the Midwest and South that have killed 39 people, televangelist Pat Robertson said Monday people could prevent the deadly storms by praying. "God doesn't send tornadoes to hurt people," he said. "We call them acts of God, but they're not. All I can say is, why do you build houses in a place where tornadoes are apt to happen? If enough people were praying He would've intervened; you could pray. Jesus stilled the storms, you can still storms. But the hurricane, for example, is a release mechanism that God set in to take heat out of this world and to transfer heat around various parts of the globe. It's very necessary. The fact that people want to build houses on the edge of an ocean is their fault, it's not God's ... so don't blame God for doing something foolish."
Rick Warren Responds to 'Chrislam' Claims
Megachurch pastor Rick Warren has issued a response to an Orange County Register article, "Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims," that drew criticism from some Christian leaders who said he was embracing "Chrislam" -- a merging of Christianity and Islam. In the article, writer Jim Hinch said Warren was "acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God," but Warren said the article had misrepresented him and his outreach to Muslims. "Christians have a view of God that is unique," Warren said in his response, clarifying that he believed in the Trinity, a doctrine that Muslims deny. But the Christian Newswire reports that Steve McConkey of 4 WINDS USA, who accused Warren of promoting "Chrislam," isn't satisfied with Warren's response. McConkey said, "Jim Hinch must have read 'A Common Word Between Us and You'" -- a 2007 document supported by Warren and other prominent Christian leaders that called for "a common understanding between both faiths based on the Quran commandment 'O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word as between us and you: that we worship none but God.'" McConkey said Christians should not have signed the document "because Allah and the Judeo-Christian God are not the same. ... The problem is that [Warren] has a case of doublespeak."
Publication date: March 7, 2012