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Religion Today Summaries - May 2, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 2, 2006

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

  • Bail Granted to Christian Woman Accused of Blasphemy
  • Religious Laws Oppress Christian Converts in Malaysia
  • Survey Shows Gays, Lesbians Make Little Use of Right to Marry
  • Freedom in China Summit 2006

Bail Granted to Christian Woman Accused of Blasphemy

Naseem Bibi, a Christian woman charged with desecrating a poster of Khana Kaba, the Muslim holy place in Saudi Arabia, was released from jail on bail on April 22 after posting surety bonds of 50,000 rupees ($832.628 USD). According to the Pakistan Christian Post (PCP) she was arrested on March 3, 2006, under accusations that she had desecrated a flyer of Khana Kaba. “I love Jesus Christ too much. I often saw Him in my dreams. Jesus met me many times in my dreams and showed His love to me. That is why I have emotional attachment with Jesus Christ,” Bibi said. “On March 3 2006 I was at my home and washing clothes. A protest march was passing in our street. My elder daughter told me that Muslim protesters are making sign of cross on the heap of garbage and hitting it with shoes. I could not control myself when I saw that Muslim protesters were desecrating cross. I shouted and quarreled with them. They were in large numbers they started to beat me. Meanwhile someone phoned to emergency police. Heavy force of police and four vans of military came there and freed me from the clutches of fundamentals. They took me to the police station and on the same day they sent me to the jail”. Naseem Bibi is the mother of four children. She has taken refuge in Lahore with her husband and children for safety.

Religious Laws Oppress Christian Converts in Malaysia

The Federal Court on April 13 granted permission to Lina Joy, a Malaysian Muslim convert to Christianity, to appeal the government’s refusal to remove her Muslim status from her identity card. A Compass Direct release states that a three-member panel of judges of the nation’s highest court ruled that, “there were novel issues to be argued in the case and the matter was of public interest.” The ground-breaking decision came after lower courts – the High Court and the Court of Appeal – repeatedly dismissed her application. Besides religious rights for Joy, at issue is whether Islamic courts have the sole right to handle cases of Muslims who leave their religion. Joy, previously known as Azlina binti Jailani, became a Christian in 1990 and was baptized in 1998. Since 1997, Joy has submitted multiple applications to the National Registration Department (NRD) to change her name to reflect her new-found faith. Her application for a name change was approved on October 22, 1999, and she was issued a new identity card the following month. Her new identity card, however, stated that she was a Muslim according to a new regulation that came into force on October 1, 1999 requiring all Muslims to be declared as such on their identity cards. The NRD refused to change her religious status and insisted that Joy obtain an order from the Islamic law court stating that she had become an apostate.

Survey Shows Gays, Lesbians Make Little Use of Right to Marry

Given the right to marry, many homosexual couples opt not to, according to a Family News in Focus story. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay marriage but only between 2-6 percent of Dutch homosexuals have taken "marriage" vows. In Massachusetts - the only American state to recognize same-sex marriage - the ratio is about one-in-six. Survey author Maggie Gallagher stated, “In most places that have gay marriage it looks like the demand for it is pretty small.” Gallagher says there's an ulterior motive in homosexual activists making such an effort to legalize same-sex marriage. “If you affirm gay marriage as a civil right through the courts, you’ll have a powerful new legal tool to use against people who disagree with you.” Survey data indicated that homosexual marriages surge when first allowed, but then dwindle dramatically.

Freedom in China Summit 2006

The Hudson Institute - in conjunction with the Institute of Chinese Law & Religion - will host a summit on May 2 in Washington, D.C. to promote discourse on the severely limited freedom of expression, religious freedom, and the rule of law in China. Closely following President Hu Jintao's visit to the US, this is a rare opportunity to dialogue with high-profile Chinese activists and dissidents who will participate despite grave risks to their personal safety. Participants will include writers, scholars, attorneys and others at the forefront of the human rights effort in China who continue to pioneer the movement for recognition of natural freedoms. This summit is sponsored by Freedom House, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Becket Fund, National Association of Evangelicals, the Institute on Religion and Public Policy and others.