A Syrian priest, along with 270 Christian and Muslim hostages kidnapped by Islamic militants earlier this summer in an offensive on the city of Homs, are reportedly alive and hoping that they'll be released after negotiations.
Fides News Agency said that Father Jacques Murad, who belongs to the monastic community of Deir Mar Musa, is still alive, according to local sources, but is being held hostage with groups of Christians and Muslims taken by jihadists in August. The hostages are reported to be "stable and secure," and are waiting as local ecclesial communities are carrying out negotiations through mediators for their possible release.
"The sources contacted by Fides confirm that all the hostages are still in Quaryatayn, and specify that the news on the story of father Murad broadcast in recent days by Lebanese television network Nursat TV did not include any statement regarding the religious person kidnapped, but only reassuring considerations about his fate, expressed by another priest," the report added. more >>
Same-sex couples received their marriage licenses Friday morning at the Rowan County clerk's office following a judge's orders for Christian County Clerk Kim Davis to be sent to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June.
Davis cited "God's authority" as the reason she defied the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. One day after Davis was jailed, however, her deputy clerks started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, the first being to William Smith Jr. and James Yates.
Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license to the pair and congratulated them, but some of the clerks remain conflicted about the issue. Deputy clerk Melissa Thompson told a packed court Thursday that compromising her religious beliefs is "the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life." Still, U.S. District Judge David Bunning made it clear that any other clerks who refuse could also be found in contempt of court, like Davis. more >>
A Christian man has been arrested on charges of "blasphemy" after his business rival, a Muslim, claimed in a police complaint that he defiled the name of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The complaint was lodged after the Christian man got a contract for building material that complainant had also applied for.
Police arrested the Christian man, Pervaiz Masih, from his home in Punjab province's District Kasur this week, acting on a complain filed by a Muslim businessman, Haji Jamshed, according to a report by a local group, The Voice Society.
Masih's family wasn't informed initially where he was being taken by police. more >>
Nagmeh Abedini, wife of American pastor Saeed Abedini who has been imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith since 2012, has made an impassioned plea to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, when he travels to New York City later this month, in hopes to personally lobby the president for her husband's freedom.
In a letter posted by the American Center for Law and Justice, which was sent to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations last month, Nagmeh Abedini highlighted the suffering of her family and the need to have her husband back home.
"… For the last three years, our family has greatly suffered in the absence of my husband and my children's father. Saeed is currently being held in Rajaei Shahr prison in Gohardasht. Saeed is not a criminal. Saeed is not a threat to Iran or the stability of its government," she wrote. more >>
Hindu radicals in India have intensified their threats, forced conversions and persecution of Christians, saying they would cut them "into pieces" if they continue to worship Christ. Such threats have already forced at least 10 Christian families in a northwest province to flee from their homes and villages.
Church leaders told the Christian persecution watchdog Morning Star News that the 10 families fled from their homes in the Indian state of Rajasthan, which shares a border with Pakistan, because of death threats coming from Hindus seeking to turn Christians away from Christ and "reconvert" them to Hinduism.
The Hindu extremists have threatened to harm anyone who mentions Christ's name or participates in church functions. The threats have prevented Christians in the area from worshiping for over two months. more >>
A human rights group has called on the United States government to step up its outreach to Syrian refugees and resettle 65,000 people before the end of 2016. While the U.S. has said that it will accept between 5,000 to 8,000 refugees, the International Rescue Committee said that is far from enough to really help Europe in its migrant crisis.
"Not only are Syrians resorting to desperate measures to seek a better life for themselves and their families in Europe, but they are dying in the process," IRC president David Miliband said in a statement.
"The U.S. has historically been the world leader in recognizing the moral obligation to resettle refugees," Miliband added. "As the German government calmly says that it expects 800,000 refugees and asylum seekers in 2015, it is vital for the U.S. to step up its response." more >>