New campaign pushes for Asia Bibi’s release
MEMBERS of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) have been urged to lobby their governments to call for the release of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman convicted of blasphemy and on death row (News, 19 November 2010). The recent meeting of the ACC in Zambia led to the passing of a resolution demanding that she be released. A co-ordinator for women in the Church of Pakistan, Shunila Ruth, has asked her fellow ACC members to pressurise their own governments to insist that Pakistan acquit Mrs Bibi and reform its blasphemy laws, which, critics say, are often misused to target minorities, including Christians. Ms Ruth also discussed the issue with the Archbishop of Canterbury during a recent visit to Lambeth Palace.
Gay priest elected bishop in Toronto
A PRIEST from Toronto, in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Revd Kevin Robertson, has become the first person openly living with a same-sex partner to be elected bishop in the Canadian Church. The 45-year-old, who, with his partner, Mohan, has two children, was elected by a diocesan synod on Saturday. He told the diocese’s website that he had never hidden his sexuality, and that his election was a turning-point for the Church’s acceptance of LGBT people. The Church approved same-sex marriages for the first time at its general synod earlier this year (News, 12 July).
Boko Haram kills churchgoers in Nigeria
EIGHT Christians who were returning from a Sunday church service are among the victims of the latest wave of attacks by the Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram. The news agency Associated Press reported on Wednesday that, in an attack in the north-eastern village of Kwamjilari, insurgent gunmen on motorcycles fired at churchgoers, killing eight people. Over the weekend, Boko Haram fighters also beheaded a village chief and his son, and ambushed a military convoy.
Iranians convicted over communion wine
THREE Christians in Iran, who were arrested in a crackdown in May, have been convicted, after a ten-minute trial, of “actions against national security” and of drinking alcohol, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports. The three men, Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie, and Mehdi Reza Omidi, now face a sentence of flogging. The alcohol charges relate to the drinking of wine during holy communion, although private consumption of alcohol by non-Muslims is not strictly illegal in Iran. The chief executive of CSW, Mervyn Thomas, said that Iran had now effectively criminalised the sacrament of the eucharist, “an unacceptable infringement on the right to practise faith freely”.