Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
New Appeals for Iranian Pastor's Release as Case Passed to Supreme Leader
Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that the Council of the European Union and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have appealed to Iranian authorities for the release of imprisoned pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who faces possible execution for apostasy. The Foreign Affairs Council deplored the "widespread repression of Iranian citizens" and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained, including Nadarkhani. Tutu appealed for freedom for all religious minorities, saying, "Forcing anybody to renounce his or her faith is an utter violation of our universal human and religious values." The statements come amid news that Nadarkhani's case has been passed to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamenei, Iran's highest political and religious authority. Referral of court cases to the Supreme Leader is rare and could cause a further delay in the issuing of a written verdict from Nadarkhani's recent trial.
Dozens Killed in Egypt as Coptic Christians Protest Church Attacks
At least 23 are dead and hundreds are injured after protests by Coptic Christians in the streets of Egypt -- protests that started out peacefully in response to a recent burning of a church by Muslims and a lack of government response -- turned into a violent confrontation with the Egyptian army, The Telegraph reports. In Alexandria, youth threw stones at security forces, and in Cairo, the army opened fire on crowds of protesters, running over at least five with armored vehicles. Three soldiers were reported killed after Christians seized their guns, and the conflict spread to Tahrir Square, the site of the recent uprisings that forced former president Hosni Mubarak from power. Egypt's Coptic Christian minority makes up 10 percent of the population of more than 80 million.
Pakistan: One Christian Killed, 21 Injured During Muslim Land-Grab Attempt
Muslims in Pakistan's Punjab Province shot dead an unarmed Christian man and injured 21 others, six critically, during an attempted land-grab, Compass Direct News reports. Forty to 45 heavily armed Muslims forcibly entered the home of Christian carpenter Adeel Kashif, intending to force his family out and take illegal possession of the property. When Kashif's neighbors and others from the Christian village of about 250 gathered upon hearing the commotion, the Muslims suddenly opened fire on the crowd, killing a 25-year-old man and injuring many women and children. Police eventually managed to arrest 16 armed assailants, but the primary suspects remain free.
Presbyterian Church Ordains First Openly Gay Minister
The Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained its first gay minister, Scott Anderson, this weekend in Madison, Wis., the Christian Post reports. Members of Westboro Baptist Church protested outside the church with signs reading "God Hates Fags" and "God Hates America," and 50 people from churches around Madison held a counterprotest with chants of "We are standing on the side of love." In May, the Presbyterian Church (USA) became the fourth Protestant denomination in America to give ordination rights to gay clergy. Anderson's ordination marked his return to the denomination 20 years after he left a California church to be with his gay partner, and he attributed it to a "cultural shift in organized religion as well as public policy in America." Gary Green, chairman of the Presbyterian Action Committee, countered: "[This ordination is] symptomatic of a deeper, ongoing struggle within the church over the authority of holy Scripture."
Publication date: October 11, 2011