Argentina's pastors love Pope Francis

ARGENTINA The first Roman Catholic pope from the Americas has won strong praise from evangelical leaders in Argentina—but it's not just hometown pride. Pope Francis's election "has been an answer to our prayers," said Norberto Saracco, coleader of Buenos Aires's council of pastors. He's impressed by former archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio's passion for prayer and church unity. International evangelist and Argentine native Luis Palau expects a papacy that will "make [Catholic-evangelical] relations easier and lessen tensions," given Francis's moral convictions and biblical faith.

Blasphemy charges alive and well

PAKISTAN Blasphemy remains a hot-button issue in Pakistan. A drunken quarrel between friends led to accusations of blasphemy, which in turn sparked the nation's largest religious riot in nearly four years. A mob burned down 150 homes in a Christian colony in Lahore. (A similar riot in Gojra burned nine Christians to death in 2009.) Meanwhile, dissident church members accused a Salvation Army pastor of blaspheming the Bible. Denomination officials said the charges were unfounded, but relocated the pastor and his family for their safety

The next abortion battleground

In March, state lawmakers approved the tightest abortion restrictions in the United States. Arkansas banned abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, and North Dakota after 6 weeks (in some cases). However, a federal judge overturned a similar Idaho law that banned abortions after 20 weeks. The laws attempt to end abortions at the point when fetuses reportedly begin to feel pain. The ruling prompted many experts to say fetal-pain laws, which now exist in nine ...

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Gleanings: May 2013
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