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Religion Today Summaries - May 30, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 30, 2008

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

  • Algerian Newspapers Cover Converts
  • NY to Recognize Gay Marriages
  • Iran Won't Release Christian Convert
  • Burma Junta Says Aid Not Enough

Algerian Newspapers Cover Converts

Compass Direct News reports that, at the trial of the six converts yesterday, a state prosecutor raised a second charge of illegally practicing non-Muslim worship and demanded two-year jail sentences and 500,000 dinar (US$8,145) fines each. Initially the men were charged with “distributing documents to shake the faith of Muslims.” As the cases become better known, a number of newspapers are openly criticizing the government for stirring up anti-Christian sentiment. Under intense scrutiny from Algerian and international observers, the case of Habiba Kouider gained notoriety last week when Algerian newspapers reported that court officials in Tiaret mocked the Christian for her conversion and pressured her to return to Islam.

NY to Recognize Gay Marriages

Same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere will be recognized in New York in response to a state court ruling this year, Gov. David Paterson's spokeswoman said Wednesday. CNSNews.com reports that state agencies, including those governing insurance and health care, must immediately change policies and regulations to make sure "spouse," "husband" and "wife" are clearly understood to include gay couples, according to a memo sent earlier this month from the governor's counsel. The Feb. 1 New York Appellate Division court ruling states that the state Legislature "may decide to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized abroad," but "Until it does so, however, such marriages are entitled to recognition in New York." This includes recognization of marriages originating in California, which can issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning June 17.

Iran Won't Release Christian Convert

Iranian police are refusing to release a Muslim convert to Christianity arrested 19 days ago in the southern city of Shiraz. Former Muslim Mojtaba Hussein has had no known charges filed against him. In spite of appeals from family members, Hussein, 21, remains jailed in an undisclosed location since he was arrested along with his father, brother and sister on May 11. His father and siblings were released later that day, but the young man’s family has been denied permission to see him or learn the reason for his arrest and detention. “He is not cooperating with us, so he has to stay in our custody,” police officials reportedly told family members. Converts from Islam are regularly subjected to harassment, arrest and surveillance in Iran, and the Islamist regime has criminalized attempts by Muslim citizens to change or renounce their religion.

Burma Junta Says Aid Not Enough

FOX News reports that the junta in Myanmar criticized aid donors for being stingy yesterday while maintaining its aloof attitude to the outside world. "People from the Irrawaddy delta can survive on their own, even without bars of chocolate donated by the international community," it said in a government-controlled newspaper, adding they can live on "fresh vegetables that grow wild in the fields and on protein-rich fish from the rivers." The article comes a day after international leaders condemned the junta's decision to extend pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest for a sixth straight year without trial. Nonetheless, the UN reported that dozens more visas were approved and more foreigners have been allowed into the hardest-hit delta region.