Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Johns Hopkins Approves Student Pro-Life Group
- Christian Prisoner Set Free in Pakistan Amid Attacks on Christian Communities
- Arkansas State Senate Moves to Defund Planned Parenthood
Johns Hopkins Approves Student Pro-Life Group
Johns Hopkins University reversed course on its stance against a student pro-life group, granting the organization full recognition late Tuesday, Word Magazine reports. The student judiciary unanimously overturned an earlier decision by the student senate to deny Voice for Life (VFL) recognition because its planned activities included sidewalk counseling outside abortion facilities. According to the minutes from the March 12th meeting, members of the senate said they feared the group would “make people uncomfortable.” In a letter protesting the decision, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education warned the school it was on shaky legal ground: “The viewpoint-based rejection of VFL in this case contradicts the principles established by the Supreme Court when it held that public universities are required to grant expressive student organizations recognition and access to the funding of student activities on a viewpoint-neutral basis. “
Johns Hopkins is a private university, not bound by First Amendment protections, but the school pledges to protect the free exchange of ideas on campus.
Christian Prisoner Set Free in Pakistan Amid Attacks on Christian Communities
After years of imprisonment on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan, Younis Masih has been set free by an appeals court, reports the ICC. Media reports differ on the exact circumstances of Younis Masih’s 2005 arrest for allegedly blaspheming Islam’s prophet Muhammad, though sources agree that the conflict spread when Muslim mobs attacked Christian homes in the area. Masih denied that he blasphemed Muhammad, but he was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007. According to World Watch Monitor, Masih’s sentence was appealed, and his attorney presented evidence that the original conviction was based on hearsay. On April 3, an appeals court in Lahore overturned Masih’s death sentence and declared him innocent.
Pakistan’s small Christian community is especially vulnerable to blasphemy accusations. Christians make up less than 3 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people, with less than 1 percent considered evangelical/followers of Christ.
Arkansas State Senate Moves to Defund Planned Parenthood
Members of the Arkansas Senate voted Tuesday to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers that receive federal and state grants to fund sex education programs, the Christian Post reports. Senate Bill 818 was introduced by Rep. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch), who aims to end the subsidization of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers that receive federal and state tax dollars to fund their sex education programs, because it violates the state's constitution. Amendment 68 of the Arkansas constitution states that: "No public funds will be used to pay for any abortion, except to save the mother's life." Earlier this year, the Arkansas legislature passed two bills that ban abortion after 20 weeks and 12 weeks, respectively. Gov. Beebe vetoed both bills, citing his opinion that the bans were unconstitutional. The legislature overrode both vetoes.