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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 22, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 22, 2009

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

  • Christian Attorney: Why I Support Rifqa's Mother
  • Fla. Megachurch Votes to Retain Senior Pastor
  • Copts Grapple with Cause of Fire at Church in Egypt
  • Anglican Head Urges Protection for Iranian Refugees

Christian Attorney: Why I Support Rifqa's Mother

The Christian attorney for Rifqa Bary's mother has urged Christians to rethink the case of the teen convert. In Sunday's St. Petersburg Times, Craig McCarthy, who worked as Rifqa Bary's mother's attorney until recently, said that many Christians have adopted "a narrative and thus reach[ed] conclusions about the Rifqa Bary case prematurely, just as we accuse the mainstream media of sticking to their preferred narratives instead of squaring their passions with reality." McCarthy, who is a self-proclaimed evangelical, says some facts are wrong in the story given by the pastor Rifqa stayed with. For instance, Rifqa's parents did not wait 10 days to report her missing. "Please recognize that the Lord is not so powerless as to need people to hide information, to embellish facts, or to give false witness in order to advance Christ's kingdom," McCarthy concluded.

Fla. Megachurch Votes to Retain Senior Pastor

The Miami Herald reports that Coral Ridge Presbyterian members overwhelmingly voted to keep their senior pastor, Tullian Tchividjian. A vocal minority managed to call a vote Sunday at the megachurch, charging Tchividjian with departing from the church's traditions and not specifically addressing political issues. Ultimately, 400 members from the 2,000 active members had signed a petition calling for the new pastor's removal. Ninety-one percent of the congregation approved his installation in March. Sunday's vote, moderated by a governing member of the Presbyterian denomination, ended with 69 percent of the church voting to retain their new pastor. In a statement, Tchividjian thanked the church for its support. "Change is difficult for any institution, but it is especially difficult for a church which has known only one pastor in its 50-year history and I understand that," he said.

Copts Grapple with Cause of Fire at Church in Egypt

Compass Direct News reports that the congregation of a Coptic church that was destroyed by fire last week is divided over whether it was a case of arson. At 3 p.m. on Sept. 8, a fire broke out at the Church of Saint Paul and Saint Peter in Shebin al-Kom, 37 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of Cairo, destroying it along with its icons, relics and most of its furniture. According to local media reports, investigators said the cause of the fire was electrical. A sizable portion of the congregation, however, disputes this. One church member whose name has been withheld for her protection said that the electrical system in the church was largely unscathed by the fire. She said the damage did not radiate from the church's fuse box. Gamal Gerges, a local reporter who works for the newspaper Al-Youm al-Sabeh, said police have no proof that the fire was accidental. "The police did not have evidence, but said what they did to avoid strife between the Christians and the Muslims," Gerges said.

Anglican Head Urges Protection for Iranian Refugees

Agence France-Presse reports that the Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has called on the U.S. and Iraq to do more to protect Iranian refugees. The head of the Church of England said Sunday that Iranian refugees trapped at Camp Ashraf northeast of Baghdad "constitute a humanitarian and human rights issue of real magnitude and urgency". "There is a strong argument in terms of international law that the Ashraf residents are 'protected persons'," he said in a statement. Eleven people were killed when Iraqi forces raided the camp in July. "Both the government of Iraq and the government of the United States -- as the agency responsible for the transfer of the residents to another jurisdiction -- have an obligation to secure the rights of these residents and to defend them from violence or abuse," he said.