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Religion Today Summaries - October 19, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 19, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Freed Israeli Soldier Returns Home After Five Years
  • Islamic Extremist Group Kills Another Christian in Nigeria
  • California Governor Signs Two Transgender Bills
  • Mexico City Lawmakers Ponder 'Temporary' Marriages


Freed Israeli Soldier Returns Home After Five Years

Galid Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for five years, returned home yesterday while 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, many held for violent crimes, were released in exchange for his freedom, the Christian Post reports. Shalit, 25, was greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon landing at an air base in central Israel, then spoke with his family via phone and was given an Israeli army uniform to wear. Regarding the release of the Palestinian prisoners, Netanyahu said: "I would like to make it clear: We will continue to fight terrorism. Any released terrorist who returns to terrorism -- his blood is upon his head. The State of Israel is different from its enemies: Here, we do not celebrate the release of murderers. Here, we do not applaud those who took life. On the contrary, we believe in the sanctity of life. We sanctify life. This is the ancient tradition of the Jewish people."

Islamic Extremist Group Kills Another Christian in Nigeria

Violence-weary Christians in Nigeria have been further upset to learn of the murder of a Nigerian evangelist by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, less than three months after the same group killed a pastor, Compass Direct News reports. Mark Ojunta, 36, an evangelist from southern Nigeria who was ministering in the northeast region of the country among the Kotoko people, was shot. Four days before his murder, Ojunta had been offered a position with Calvary Ministries (CAPRO) in the U.K., but he declined, saying that he wanted to invest more years into his work with the Kotokos before he would consider leaving. Ojunta is survived by his wife, Ema, and two children, 3-year-old Kambe and 9-month-old Akira, in addition to his parents and sisters.

California Governor Signs Two Transgender Bills

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills into law that extend special protections to transgender people, WORLD News Service reports. One bill, AB 887, enumerates existing gender-identity protections as categories in nondiscrimination laws in addition to clarifying that gender identity and expression are included in the definition of gender and sex in all California codes. Six governmental departments -- civil, education, government, insurance, labor and penal -- are affected. "That means, for example, employers have to allow men to dress like women at work, if that's their means of 'gender expression,'" said assemblywoman Toni Atkins, who introduced the bill. The second bill, AB 433, changes the laws regulating the way transgender people get new IDs and updated birth certificates. Previously, applications for an ID reflecting a gender change had to be accompanied by a doctor's note saying sex-change surgery had been performed; it also included room for third parties to file objections. The new law deletes the provisions for objections and makes the doctor's note "conclusive proof of gender change."

Mexico City Lawmakers Ponder 'Temporary' Marriages

Mexico City's 2009 law legalizing gay marriage could be followed this year with a law allowing temporary marriage licenses, according to Baptist Press. Lawmakers will be voting on a proposed bill for a minimum marriage contract of two years that could be renewed if the couple is happy. The licenses would include a pre-divorce agreement on the disposition of children and property if the couple decided to terminate the marriage. "When the two-year period is up, if the relationship is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends," said Leonel Luna, co-author of the bill and member of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution. "You wouldn't have to go through the tortuous process of divorce."

Publication date: October 19, 2011