Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Massachusetts School Draws Heat Over Gay Biblical Satire
- Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani Still Alive; Execution Claim False, Group Says
- Bill Clinton Urges Supreme Court to Overturn Gay Marriage Law He Signed
- Britain's Queen Elizabeth Endorses Gay Rights
Massachusetts School Draws Heat Over Gay Biblical Satire
Students at a Massachusetts charter school will perform a biblical play of Genesis with gay characters, despite objections from many who say it's offensive to Christians, CBN News reports. The play is a 1998 comedy called "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told," and in a letter to parents, administrators at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School said it was consistent with the school's philosophy and appropriate for a high school audience. But they did admit to receiving email petitions and phone calls describing the production as "blasphemous and hateful." According to some of the messages, opponents said they planned to organize protests through local churches.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani Still Alive; Execution Claim False, Group Says
Amid reports that Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may have been hanged by authorities for his faith, a U.K.-based rights group says sources inside Iran have confirmed he is still alive, the Christian Post reports. Pictures purporting to show a man being hanged are being attributed as evidence of the pastor's death, but the man in the photos is not Pastor Nadarkhani, noted Christian Solidarity Worldwide on Friday. Even as reports that the 34-year-old pastor had been hanged re-emerged Friday after initially surfacing the week before, CSW said its sources confirmed Nadarkhani was alive. "While we are relieved to report that Pastor Nadarkhani is alive, we urge caution in circulating rumors which must be deeply distressing for his family, his congregation and for many around the world who continue to pray for him," CSW chief executive Mervyn Thomas said. "Given their possible ramifications, it is vital that reports of such a serious nature are stringently verified before dissemination." A court in Rasht acquitted Nadarkhani of apostasy on Sept. 8, 2012, but sentenced him to three years for evangelizing Muslims. Since he had already spent close to three years in Lakan Prison, Nadarkhani was released after posting bail. However, he was returned to prison again on Dec. 25 on the orders of prison authorities, and released again on Jan. 7.
Bill Clinton Urges Supreme Court to Overturn Gay Marriage Law He Signed
It's not every day you see an ex-president ask the Supreme Court to strike down a law he signed. That's what Bill Clinton is doing with the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman -- and which the high court will rule on this year in a landmark moment for the gay marriage movement, the Religion News Service reports. The justices must decide whether the Defense of Marriage Act "is consistent with the principles of a nation that honors freedom, equality and justice above all, and is therefore constitutional," Clinton wrote in The Washington Post. "As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution." Clinton says that when he signed the law in 1996, "it was a very different time." No state recognized same-sex marriage, but some were considering it -- and congressional opponents were proposing "quite draconian" responses. "As a bipartisan group of former senators stated in their March 1 amicus brief to the Supreme Court, many supporters of the bill known as DOMA believed that its passage 'would defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more,'" Clinton wrote. "When I signed the bill, I included a statement with the admonition that 'enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination.' Reading those words today, I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory. It should be overturned." The Supreme Court decision is expected in late June.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth Endorses Gay Rights
Britain's Queen Elizabeth is making history by coming out in favor of gay rights, CBN News reports. She is endorsing an agreement that applies to all former members of the British empire which opposes "all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, color, creed, political belief or other grounds." She is also taking a stand for granting equal rights to girls in the royal succession to the British throne. The timing is considered significant, with Prince William and Kate Middleton's baby on the way. If it is a girl, she could be the next queen.
Publication date: March 12, 2013