Christian President Retains Office, Pastor Kidnapped in Mexico, & Other News
Governor orders churches closed
ALGERIA The leader of Algeria's network of Protestant churches was ordered by his governor to "close down … all the Christian worship places, which are not designated for religious purposes." The May order enforces Ordinance 03-06, a 2006 law restricting non-Muslim worship. The ordinance led to the closure of over half of the nation's then-50 Protestant churches in 2008. Churches must register in order to legally operate, yet Protestant leaders have tried for years to have church applications approved by the government without success. The Algerian government also restricts Muslim worship, given fears of radicalism that fueled waves of domestic terrorism in the 1990s. Despite government intimidation, churches throughout the country continued to gather weeks after orders to shut down.
Christian president retains office
NIGERIA Voters gave Christian president Goodluck Jonathan his job back in what many agreed was one of Nigeria's fairest elections. But supporters of Muslim opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari took to the streets. The ensuing riots left an estimated 800 Christians and Muslims dead and hundreds of churches burned. Many believe the balance of power in Nigeria has shifted to the Christian-dominated south. The shift began when thenvice president Jonathan took over after his northern predecessor's death in 2010, breaking the Muslim-Christian presidential rotation.
Florida will vote on Blaine repeal
The Florida Senate has moved the state one step closer to repealing a Reconstruction-era constitutional amendment that bars religious organizations from state funding. The Blaine Amendment was created in the 1800s to limit Catholicism. Supporters of the repeal argue that Blaine discriminates against religious groups that offer social services. Opponents worry that repealing it could open the door to school vouchers for religious institutions and state funding for extremist hate groups. Voters will decide on the amendment in 2012.
Pastors petition for religious liberty
CHINA Nineteen pastors signed a first-ever petition presented to the Chinese legislature asking the Communist government to grant legal protection for unregistered house churches. The document references the unregistered 1,000-member Shouwang Church. Its members have attempted for months to hold Sunday worship in a public square after the church's lease was terminated. Observers told The New York Times that the petition puts pressure on the government at a time when leaders already feel their authority is under threat.
Court affirms house church worship
IRAN The Revolutionary Tribunal has acquitted 11 members of the Church of Iran who had been arrested after attending a house church meeting and drinking Communion wine. The court ruled that the church members were within their rights under Article 13 of the Iranian constitution, which allows non-Muslims freedom to worship and "act according to their own canon."
New constitution reverses abortion stance
HUNGARY The newly adopted constitution in Hungary defines marriage as between one man and one woman. It also guarantees the right to life from conception and acknowledges the role of Christianity in preserving the nation. Hungary's prime minister said he hopes the new constitution will transition the post-Communist country to a democracy with sound finances and good government. Previously, Hungary's abortion law was one of the most liberal in Europe, allowing the procedure without restriction and using state funding.