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Religion Today Summaries - November 10, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - November 10, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Mississippi Voters Defeat 'Personhood' Amendment
  • Burma Army Shoots, Tortures, Captures Church Members
  • Attention on Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Helps Persecuted Christians
  • Pakistan: Pregnant Christian Maid Tortured


Mississippi Voters Defeat 'Personhood' Amendment

The controversial "Personhood" amendment, which would have defined life as beginning at conception and banned abortions statewide, was rejected by voters in Mississippi on Tuesday by a vote of 55 to 45 percent, the Christian Post reports. Supporters of the amendment wanted to use Mississippi as a test case and knew a victory would send "shockwaves" through the nation; however, opponents of the amendment, including some pro-life advocates who were uncomfortable with its wording, said they would have legally challenged it had it passed. "Some very strongly pro-life people have raised questions about the ambiguity and ... whether there are unforeseen, unintended consequences," said outgoing Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, who voted for the amendment while expressing concern about how it might be legally interpreted. Churches also took sides on the issue; the Mississippi Baptist Convention supported the measure while the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and the United Methodist Church General Conference opposed it. Mississippi's current laws governing abortion are comparatively stricter than other states, requiring parental consent for a minor, mandatory in-person counseling and a 24-hour waiting period for any woman seeking an abortion. Personhood USA, the Colorado-based group behind the effort, is attempting to get similar initiatives on the ballots in Montana, Ohio, Florida and Oregon.

Burma Army Shoots, Tortures, Captures Church Members

Soldiers from the Burma Army attacked a church in Kachin State, Burma, shooting at worshipers, severely torturing pastor Yajawng Hkawng, who remains in the hospital, and taking at least 50 church members to work as forced porters for the army, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. Several were injured in the shooting, including a deacon, and the soldiers also looted donation boxes and burned down the house of one church member. "The military in Burma has unleashed yet another wave of terror against civilians in the ethnic states, at a time when the regime is speaking about reform," said Benedict Rogers, CSW's East Asia team leader. "Attacking churches where civilians are gathering to pray peacefully is a serious violation of religious freedom."

Attention on Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Helps Persecuted Christians

The American Center for Law and Justice has confirmed with the attorney of imprisoned Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani that he is alive and being treated well by prison officials while continuing to await his final verdict. The Iranian court has not yet received requested guidance from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, but local attorneys say they will issue their own ruling if the Supreme Leader doesn't respond within a month. Nadarkhani's attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, said he remained hopeful that all the work in Nadarkhani's defense would lead to a positive outcome -- his release. International Christian Concern reports that the international attention on the case was having an effect on other cases brought against Christians in the region. Dadkhah confirmed that the Iranian judiciary was proceeding with caution in other cases against alleged "apostates;" for example, a regional court hesitated to bring a formal apostasy charge or harsh sentence for one Christian convert from Islam, and Dadkhah said he was certain it was due to the notoreity of Nadarkhani's case.

Pakistan: Pregnant Christian Maid Tortured

Salma Emmanuel, 30, a pregnant Christian housemaid, was admitted to a local hospital in critical condition after being tortured during a police interrogation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the military town where Osama bin Laden was killed in May, ASSIST News Service reports. Emmanuel said she was punched, kicked and beaten with canes by three female police officers after being falsely accused of stealing from her employer, but the deputy superintendent of police rejected the allegations. However, the doctor on duty at the hospital confirmed that Emmanuel's body bore marks of torture and that her fetus was also in danger due to her condition. Two Pakistan-based human rights organizations said in a joint statement: "Once again the 'influentials' in society have used their influence against the weak and overpowered the law. ... The Christian domestic workers are raped, kidnapped, tortured and killed, yet the authorities claim that the minorities are given equal rights."

Publication date: November 10, 2011