LA PUENTE, Calif. – A California pastor says an activist preacher detained in Iran after staging a protest outside Tehran’s Evin Prison is being sent back to the United States.
Bob Wilcox, pastor at Hacienda Christian Fellowship church, says the Rev. Eddie Romero called his family from the Swiss Embassy in Tehran and said he would soon be put on a plane home. Romero said he would have preferred to stay in Iran to continue bringing attention to imprisoned Iranian Christians, including Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini.
Romero surrendered to prison guards Monday after broadcasting about six minutes of his protest on the Internet using a smartphone hidden in his pocket. Echoing the cry of Moses in the Book of Exodus, he had called on Iran to “Let my people go.”
Pakistan’s leader praises religious freedom
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WASHINGTON – Pakistan’s leader says religious freedom was a founding principle of his predominantly Muslim country.
In a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif noted that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” He also quoted the Quran’s teaching that God created nations and tribes to coexist in righteousness.
Last month, Islamic suicide bombers killed 85 people outside a Pakistani church, and Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities.
But Sharif said, “We want to create a society based on social justice and wellbeing of all our people without any discrimination.”
Sharif is to meet with President Barack Obama Wednesday afternoon at the White House.
Vatican halts remarriage debate before it starts
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has quashed hopes that there might be some wiggle room on one of its longstanding rules about the indissolubility of marriage.
The Vatican’s chief doctrine official, Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, wrote Tuesday that there is no way for Catholics who divorce and remarry to receive Communion unless they get an annulment, a church ruling that their first marriage never really existed.
Such annulments are often impossible to get and can take years to process.
Earlier this month, the German diocese of Freiburg upset the Vatican when it issued a set of guidelines explaining how such remarried Catholics could get around the rule. Pope Francis is also expected to raise the issue at a church meeting next year.
Mueller’s article in the Vatican newspaper seemed aimed at ending the debate.
Hobby Lobby asks Supreme Court to take up case
OKLAHOMA CITY – Lawyers for Hobby Lobby have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the company’s lawsuit against the federal health care law’s contraceptive coverage mandate.
In July, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton temporarily exempted the craft store chain and its sister company, Mardel Christian bookstore, from a requirement that it provide insurance coverage for morning-after pills, similar emergency birth control methods and intrauterine devices.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September filed a notice in federal court saying it would appeal that decision.
The Green family, which owns the two companies, believes life begins at conception, and lawyers for the Greens say the new federal health care law would force them to either violate their religious beliefs or pay millions of dollars in fines.
Pistol-packing pastor turns tables on store robber
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Police say a pistol-packing pastor turned the tables on a would-be robber in Evansville, Ind.
Pastor Carl Sanders of Covenant Life Ministry says he stopped in a discount store Friday to buy a drink and was confronted by 25-year-old Jermaine Marshall of Evansville holding what appeared to be a gun wrapped in plastic.
Sanders told WFIE-TV that Marshall told him to get on the ground, but the pastor says he pulled his gun on Marshall and told him, “No, you get on the ground.” Marshall’s weapon turned out to be a spoon.
Sanders held Marshall until officers arrived. He told Marshall he was doing so “out of love.”
Marshall was being held without bond on robbery charges Monday at the Vanderburgh County Detention Center. Online jail records don’t indicate whether he has an attorney.