Nepal wavers on religious identity

Nepal Nepal's national religion is under renewed debate as the country of 29 million faces a deadline to pass a new constitution cementing its transition from monarchy to republic. Nepal's Maoist party and the country's 700,000 Christians are calling for the government to honor promises of a secular state, while Hindu factions increasingly demonstrate in support of reestablishing a Hindu nation. The country has technically had a secular government since 2006, but Christians claim they are still persecuted and conversions remain illegal.

NAE works to curb abortion rate

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has announced its willingness to cooperate across ideological lines as part of a new campaign to reduce the number of abortions. NAE president Leith Anderson said he is still opposed to abortion on demand, and the NAE Generation Forum website says it wants to "converse and cooperate without compromising our bedrock principles." A majority of surveyed evangelical leaders support making adoption services, pre- and post-natal care, and contraceptives more available.

Churches may boycott new constitution

Kenya Church leaders are threatening to boycott the latest draft of Kenya's revised constitution over language they say permits abortion. Leaders of the National Council of Churches in Kenya, the Roman Catholic Church, and Pentecostal churches are unhappy with the current draft, which permits abortion if the life or health of the mother is endangered or if "emergency treatment" is needed. Church leaders are similarly unhappy with the proposed continuation of Muslim Kadhis courts; on May 24 the country's High Court agreed, declaring such courts (beyond colonial-era ones on the Indian Ocean coast) illegal for unconstitutionally promoting Islam over other religions.

Religious minorities gain Senate seats

Pakistan Four seats for religious minorities have been added to Pakistan's 100-member Senate under the country's new 18th amendment. Each of Pakistan's four provinces received one seat reserved for a non-Muslim religious minority. Current estimates place Pakistan's population at 95 percent Muslim and 2-4 percent Christian. Observers hope Christians will fill at least two of the four positions.

Court gives murky employment ruling

Canada A Toronto court ruled that religious groups can enforce standards of conduct when employees are "actively involved in converting the residents to, or instilling in them," religious belief or morals. But the Ontario Divisional Court said Christian Horizons, a group that runs homes for disabled people, did not have the right to fire Connie Heintz after she began a homosexual relationship in 2002. "Support workers," the court said, "are not hired or expected to bring the residents into the evangelical Christian religion by having them adopt a certain lifestyle." The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and other Christian groups mostly praised the decision because it overturned much of a 2008 Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling that religious groups could enforce lifestyle policies only when offering services to people of the same faith.

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Alcohol and church coexist under new law

A new Arizona law prohibits zoning rules that restrict the location of churches. Yuma city officials had said Centro Familiar Cristiano Buenas Nuevas could not open a church on Main Street because it would undermine downtown development; a Prohibition-era restriction requires businesses with liquor licenses to be built at least 300 feet away from places of worship. Under the new law, a city can designate up to three entertainment districts where churches and alcohol coexist.

Pioneers merges with Arab World Ministries

Missions organizations Pioneers-usa and Arab World Ministries (AWM) are merging in order to plant more churches in Muslim-majority countries. The groups will combine U.S. operations, with eight AWM staff moving to the Orlando offices of Pioneers by September 2010. The merger will combine Pioneers' recruiting abilities with AWM's strength in reaching closed people groups. AWM has about 400 staff around the world, and Pioneers has 1,900 missionaries worldwide.

Christian president tips balance of power

Nigeria Christian president Goodluck Jonathan was sworn into office in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, just after former president Umaru Yar'Adua's burial. Yar'Adua, a Muslim, died less than four years into a presidential term fraught with personal health problems. Observers worry the transition will upset the country's balance of power; an unwritten agreement shifts the presidency from a Christian to a Muslim every eight years, so Jonathan is taking office with more than half of a Muslim presidential term remaining.

NYC church forced to keep building

A New York City church's designation as a historical landmark was upheld in May, preventing West Park Presbyterian Church from tearing down part of the building to develop the site. Pastor Robert Brashear called the city council's ruling a church-state issue by "imposing the governmental idea of mission" on the church. Brashear estimates it will cost his dwindling congregation $11 to $12 million to restore the building.

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Tiananmen leader converts

Chai Ling, the sole female leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in China, was baptized as a Christian April 4. Ling said she converted because of her inability to change Chinese politics and her horror at China's one-child law, which has resulted in millions of abortions. The law's repercussions are like "a daily Tiananmen massacre … in broad daylight," she said. Ling currently lives in Boston and co-owns a software company with her husband.

Anglican unity movement splits

The Anglican Mission (AM; formerly AMIA) announced it will leave the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the conservative umbrella group that the AM helped found last fall. AM leaders say the break will allow the group to continue focusing on church planting. The decision was prompted in part by the Rwandan House of Bishops, which oversees AM and objected to bishops' dual membership. AM, which has 156 churches, has applied for ministry-partner status.

Arrest warrant issued for copyright violations

United Kingdom A British high court has issued an arrest warrant for a man who called copyright law "un-Christian" and posted online more than 130 complete works by evangelical publishers on his paid-access site. Andrew Amue listed titles from Zondervan, Moody, Tyndale, and Thomas Nelson on his websites and The warrant was issued after Amue failed to appear at a hearing; officials from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association believe he is operating under an assumed name.

Christian schools might teach Hindu culture

India A new proposal before the Maharashtra state government would require Mumbai's more than 150 Christian schools to teach the Hindu lifestyle to students. The proposal was made by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, which helps finance the schools and is currently run by a coalition of Hindu parties. Gregory Lobo, general secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education, says his schools promote respect for all religions, and that requiring Hindutva culture teaching is not needed.

Layoffs hit church publishing executives

The president and three vice presidents of the Seventh-day Adventist Church's publishing arm were laid off in late April. The Review and Herald Publishing Association laid off its vice presidents of finance, books and subscription literature, and periodicals. Graphics vice president Mark Thomas was named interim president. The 16-million member Maryland-based denomination cited "mounting financial losses" due to the tight market for religious publishing.

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