Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Hobby Lobby Gets Boost in Battle Against Abortion Mandate
- Indian Missionary Freed After Fighting False Charge in Prison for Eight Years
- Sexual Activity Rare Among Young Adolescents
- 'The Bible' Series Finale Draws 11.7 Million Viewers
Hobby Lobby Gets Boost in Battle Against Abortion Mandate
Hobby Lobby's legal battle against the abortion/contraceptive mandate received a boost March 29 when the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hear the company's case, Baptist Press reports. The 10th Circuit said it would expedite oral arguments and set a date soon. Such "en banc" hearings are relatively rare. Under the federal government's mandate, businesses must cover contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs as part of their employee health insurance plans. The Christian owners of Hobby Lobby are arguing that the mandate violates their beliefs and constitutionally protected freedoms, and the company could face millions in fines if a court does not intervene. In November, a federal judge ruled that Hobby Lobby must cover the drugs in its health insurance plans, and in December a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit refused to step in and prevent Hobby Lobby from being impacted by the mandate. "Full court review is reserved only for the most serious legal questions," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby. "This case asks whether the First Amendment protects everyone's right to religious freedom, or whether it leaves out religious business owners."
Indian Missionary Freed After Fighting False Charge in Prison for Eight Years
An Indian missionary sponsored by Gospel for Asia was recently released from prison after fighting a false charge behind bars for the past eight years, the Christian News Network reports. The missionary, only identified as Pastor Samuel, was first arrested in 2004 in Jhharkhand, India, for allegedly participating in a riot that left 19 dead. Although he told officials he had no part in the riot, he was incarcerated nonetheless after being misidentified as a member of a rebel group. Hearings for Pastor Samuel were delayed, and he was forced to be separated from his wife and daughter during the eight-year period. In August 2010, a court ruled that the charge against him should be dropped because of insufficient evidence to convict him. However, one final hearing had to take place, which was again delayed. Almost three years later, Pastor Samuel is finally free. "I was totally depressed in this situation, but the Lord helped me to realize he has a special plan for me to be in the prison," he said. "The Lord is helping me to share the love of Jesus with the prisoners. Through my ministry, I see the transformation that is happening in their lives." While in prison, Pastor Samuel shared the Gospel with his cellmates and was eventually given permission to conduct prayer services. He states that approximately 20 people came to faith in Christ behind bars.
Sexual Activity Rare Among Young Adolescents
The notion that the youngest adolescents – ages 10 to 12 – are more sexually active today than in the past is greatly exaggerated, says a new report in the April issue of Pediatrics. It finds that among both boys and girls, only 0.6 percent of 10-year-olds, 1.1 percent of 11-year-olds and 2.4 percent of 12-year-olds have had sex, and the incidence of pregnancy among girls age 12 or younger "is minuscule." The study also finds that sex among very young adolescents is frequently involuntary; 62 percent of girls who had sex by age 10 say their first encounter was coerced. Coercion was also cited by 50 percent of those who had sex by age 11 and 23 percent who had sex by age 12. By middle adolescence, sexual activity is more common among teens but only for a minority (5.4 percent of 13-year-olds; 11 percent of 14-year-olds; 20 percent of 15-year-olds; 33 percent of 16-year-olds). Although more than half of older teens (ages 17 to 19) have had sex, 25 percent of both males and females have not had sex by age 20.
'The Bible' Series Finale Draws 11.7 Million Viewers
The series finale of the History Channel's "The Bible" got a big boost from viewers for its series finale on Easter Sunday, which included the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, CBN News reports. According to Deadline.com, 11.7 million viewers tuned in, up 14 percent from the previous episode. The success of the series made the History Channel the top cable network for the month of March.
Publication date: April 3, 2013