Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 7, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 7, 2008

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

  • Iraq: Christians Granted One Seat ahead of Elections
  • Pope Congratulates Obama on `Historic' Election
  • Azerbaijani Pastor Released Until End of Trial
  • China: Beijing Rights Defense Lawyers Fired


 Iraq: Christians Granted One Seat ahead of Elections

The Christian Post reports that the Iraqi parliament has slightly amended its choice to remove a quota of minority seats on provincial councils, but the move may be a token more than anything. Only one seat out of the 440 available has been withheld for Christians, far below the 12 recommended by the United Nations, on the councils of Basra, Baghdad, and Ninevah. The bill carving the one spot passed the mostly Shiite Muslim-led parliament by 106 out of the 150 legislators present. The bill provided several seats for the minority Yazidis, a non-Muslim Kurdish community, and Sabean and Shabak communities, both of which are a synthesis of Islam with other faith influences. The bill now goes to the national presidency council for final approval. More than 13,000 Christian fled the city of Mosul in the Ninevah region in October, following 12 murders in two weeks along with numerous death threats.

Pope Congratulates Obama on `Historic' Election

Religion News Service reports that while Barack Obama may not have been the Catholic hierarchy's favored candidate in the U.S. presidential race because of his support for abortion rights, the Vatican on Wednesday (Nov. 5) hailed his election as a "choice that unites." Pope Benedict XVI congratulated the president-elect on the "historic occasion" of his election. In a telegram sent to Obama via the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Mary Ann Glendon, Benedict assured Obama of his prayers that God would assist him in his "high responsibilities in service to the nation and to the international community" and "sustain you and the beloved American people in your efforts, together with all men and women of good will, to build a world of peace, solidarity and justice."

Azerbaijani Pastor Released Until End of Trial

Mission News Network reports that 52-year-old Pastor Hamid Shabanov was released yesterday while his trial continues, ending his four-month ordeal. Shabanov was arrested when authorities searched his home in June, where they found an illegal pistol. Shabanov's congregation and family say the gun was planted during the search. Shabanov's unregistered church has been bullied the government because its unregistered status, though the government itself is blocking attempts to gain legal registration. "If Pastor Shabanov is actually convicted on this charge, he could spend up to three years in prison. This is really troubling how evangelical churches in Azerbaijan are undergoing this kind of pressure," Slavic Gospel Association's Joel Griffith said. Azerbaijan is a mostly Muslim country.

China: Beijing Rights Defense Lawyers Fired

ASSIST News Service reports with China Aid Association (CAA) that on October 30, Christian Attorney Li Subin was told he was fired from the Beijing Yitong Law Firm because he and 35 other Beijing lawyers signed an open letter in August calling for direct election of the leaders of the Beijing Lawyers Association [equivalent to Bar Association]. About five to seven other lawyers have also been dismissed or forced to leave their respected law firms for the same reason. In an e-mail news release to ANS, CAA explains the director of the firm who is also a Christian, Attorney Li Jingsong, was pressured by officials who indicated his law firm’s inspection might not be passed by the Bureau of Justice. CAA reported that despite the increased pressure on lawyers who have signed the letter, according to the organization Human Rights in China, the number of lawyers in support of the letter has grown to 82.