Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 7, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 7, 2010

Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Court: University Should Have Funded Student Group's Worship
  • Vatican Expected to Seek Clemency for Death-Row Iranian Woman
  • Alleged Bomber of Christian Boy in Israel to Stand Trial
  • Anglican Head Rebuts Hawking on God's Role in Big Bang

Court: University Should Have Funded Student Group's Worship

The University of Wisconsin at Madison should not have prohibited the use of student funds for the worship-related activities of a Catholic campus group, a federal appeals court has ruled. According to Religion News Service, the school distributes funds from student fees for activities of registered student groups but rejected paying for worship, religious instruction and proselytizing by Badger Catholic. "A university cannot shape Badger Catholic's message by selectively funding the speech it approves, but not the speech it disapproves," wrote Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Sept. 1 decision.

Vatican Expected to Seek Clemency for Death-Row Iranian Woman

An Iranian woman facing death by stoning is expected to receive help with her case from the Vatican. "When the Holy See is asked, in an appropriate way, to intervene in humanitarian issues with the authorities of other countries, as it has happened many times in the past, it does so not in a public way, but through its own diplomatic channels," the director of the Vatican's press office, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in the statement. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani faces the death penalty after pleading guilty to an "illicit relationship" with two men after the death of her husband. The Christian Post reports that she later retracted her confession, saying it was made under duress. This past July, Iranian authorities said they would not carry out the stoning sentence for the time being, but Ashtiani could still face execution by hanging for adultery and other offenses.

Alleged Bomber of Christian Boy in Israel to Stand Trial

Compass Direct News reports that an Israeli man accused of planting a homemade bomb that almost killed the son of a Messianic Jewish pastor in Ariel, Israel has been declared competent to stand trial. In November, Jack Teitel, 37, was indicted on two charges of pre-meditated murder, three charges of attempted murder and numerous weapons charges. David and Leah Ortiz, parents of the teenage victim, said that the 10 months since the indictment have been difficult but their stance toward Teitel remains the same; they have forgiven him for the attack but want him to face justice before a judge and seek salvation from God. On March 20, 2008, Ami Ortiz, then 15, opened a gift basket that someone had left anonymously at his family's home in Ariel; the ensuing explosion destroyed much of the Ortiz home and shattered Ami's body.

Anglican Head Rebuts Hawking on God's Role in Big Bang

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has flatly dismissed famed scientist Stephen Hawking's claim that gravity, not God, was responsible for creating the universe, according to Religion News Service. Hawking, a retired professor at England's Cambridge University and best-selling author, insists in his latest book, "The Grand Design" that "because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing." But in a magazine excerpt published in The Times newspaper in London, the archbishop wrote that "belief in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the universe." Rather, Williams continued, "it is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence." As archbishop of Canterbury, Williams is spiritual leader of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.