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Jordan court annuls convert's marriage, U.S. Christians become Israel's biggest tourist group, and Obama fields questions from evangelical leaders.
  • A Jordanian Islamic court has annulled the marriage of Mohammad Abbad, a Muslim convert to Christianity. The North Amman Shari'ah Court said in a May 22 document that "marriage depends on the creed [religion], and the apostate has no creed." Though Jordan's penal code does not outlaw apostasy, and its constitution guarantees freedom of religion, the country maintains Islam, which forbids conversion to other faiths, as its official religion. Abbad, 40, fled the country in March with his wife and two young children, after being assaulted in his home by acquaintances who demanded custody of his children.
  • Israel's Ministry of Tourism expects that the state will host a record 2.8 million tourists in 2008. One-third of them visit Israel on a Christian pilgrimage tour, the ministry said. Christian tourists now outnumber Jewish visitors, who account for 30 percent of the tourist total. The number of tourists from the U.S. doubled to 500,000 in 2007 compared to 2003, despite rising fuel costs for air travel and the declining dollar. The tourism ministry unveiled a $3.5 million advertising campaign aimed at American evangelicals in 2007. Jerusalem last suffered a suicide bombing in September 2004.
  • Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama fielded questions from about 30 Christian leaders during a private meeting in June. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals told the Associated Press that leaders talked with Obama about protecting the traditional family, gay rights, religious freedom, and poverty, among other issues. Franklin Graham asked Obama if "he thought Jesus was the way to God, or merely a way," according to spokesman Mark DeMoss. But DeMoss declined to say how Obama answered the question.
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