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Religion Today Summaries - September 8, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 8, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • More Fines, Destruction of Bibles in Uzbekistan
  • Pregnant South Dakota Women to be Informed of 'Existing Relationship' with Baby
  • Iranian Authorities Free Christian after Year in Prison
  • Poll: Americans Tolerant of Other Faiths... Except Islam

More Fines, Destruction of Bibles in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan's authorities continue to punish peaceful religious believers with fines, physical abuse and court-ordered destruction of religious literature, ASSIST News Service reports. Police in eastern Fergana Region allegedly raided the home of a Protestant couple in late July and are preparing an administrative case against them. The police inspector who led the raid said that police found and confiscated “banned” religious literature. Asked what literature found in their home was banned, he identified the Bible and the New Testament. Also in July, courts in the capital of Tashkent and eastern Syrdarya Region have handed down fines of up to one hundred times the minimum monthly wage to ten Protestants to punish them for unregistered activity. In both cases, the courts ordered that confiscated Christian literature - including Bibles and New Testaments – be destroyed. Another court in central Samarkand Region fined a member of an officially registered Baptist Church for “illegal” religious teaching.

Pregnant South Dakota Women to be Informed of 'Existing Relationship' with Baby

According to Baptist Press, a pregnant woman considering abortion in South Dakota must be informed she "has an existing relationship with that unborn human being," a federal appeals court has ruled. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, Mo., overturned a federal judge's decision that had struck down the "relationship advisories" section of South Dakota's 2005 informed consent law. The law's supporters, however, fell short of a complete victory in the opinion by the three-judge panel. In a 2-1 split decision, the judges upheld the lower court's invalidation of a section requiring women to be informed of the risk of suicide from abortion. The dissenting judge said he would have upheld the entire law, including that requirement. The Eighth Circuit's Sept. 2 ruling in support of a state's right to inform a woman she has a relationship with the child living in her womb was a victory for pro-life advocates not only in providing full information for pregnant women but in establishing protection for unborn children. South Dakota pro-life leader Leslee Unruh praised the decision. "I can't remember a day being this happy in the 27 years of doing this work," she said.

Iranian Authorities Free Christian after Year in Prison

Iranian authorities on August 29 released a Christian after 359 days of detainment on charges of spreading Christianity among Farsi-speaking Iranians and having ties with foreign Christian organizations, according to Compass Direct  News. Authorities arrested Vahik Abrahamian, 45, a dual Iranian and Dutch citizen who belongs to Iran’s Armenian community, and his wife on Sept. 4, 2010 in Hamadan, along with another Iranian Christian couple, Arash Kermanjani and Arezou Teimouri. On April 30 authorities released Abrahamian’s wife, Sonia, along with Kermanjani and Teimouri, and Abrahamian was ultimately held in the Hamadan general prison ward. The couple worked with drug addicts and other marginalized Iranians, according to Farsi Christian News Network. Abrahamian had become a Christian in the Netherlands, where he visited an Iranian church. At that time he found freedom from his own drug addiction, and in 2006 he returned to Iran to work with drug users. Authorities were incensed that Abrahamian worked with marginalized Farsi-speaking Muslims, and even more that he had connections with foreign Christians, said an Iranian Christian pastor in the region on the condition of anonymity. “The reason he was in prison for so long wasn’t about his [faith and activities], but because he was connected with foreign Christians,” the source said. 

Poll: Americans Tolerant of Other Faiths... Except Islam

According to Religion News Service, Americans consider religious freedom a cornerstone of society, but fall short in their tolerance of Muslims, according to a poll released Tuesday that probes Americans' attitudes toward immigrants and the nation's safety 10 years after 9/11. The "What It Means to Be American" poll found that a small majority (53 percent) say the country is safer now than before the 9/11 attacks. Attitudes toward Muslims, however, are far less straightforward. More than 8 in 10 Americans say that self-proclaimed Christians who commit violence in the name of Christianity are not really Christians. By contrast, less than half (48 percent) say that self-proclaimed Muslims who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam are not really Muslims. "Interestingly, we find that Americans basically have a double standard when it comes to evaluating religious violence," said Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute.