Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Chicago Board of Education OKs Kindergarten Sex Ed
- Crackdown on Christians Moves Sudan Closer to '100 Percent' Muslim
- Pakistan: Pastor Released on Bail After Mistaken Blasphemy Accusation
- Yale Considers Joining Other Universities That Pay for Student Sex Changes
Chicago Board of Education OKs Kindergarten Sex Ed
The Chicago Public Schools district plans to start teaching children sex education in kindergarten, CBN News reports. Its Board of Education passed the new policy Wednesday, which mandates that teachers spend a set amount of time on sex education lessons at every grade level. Across the country, most public schools begin teaching sex ed in fifth grade, but under Chicago's new policy, kindergartners will learn about basic anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships and personal safety. "It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors and relationships," said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools system, which is the third-largest in the country. "By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the preadolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives." Parents will be able to opt their children out of the program.
Crackdown on Christians Moves Sudan Closer to '100 Percent' Muslim
Sudan's president has pledged to preserve religious freedom in his proposed "100-percent" Islamic constitution, but Christians doubt the prospect in light of increasing persecution, Christianity Today reports. A government-led crackdown is forcing Christians to flee south into the Nuba Mountains, a region that borders the newly established nation of South Sudan, and ethnic Nuba Christians believe Sudan's central government is attempting to eradicate Christianity from the region. Though the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has denied that it is discriminating against Christians, many recent reports have documented increasing attacks.
Pakistan: Pastor Released on Bail After Mistaken Blasphemy Accusation
In a rare instance in Pakistan, a judge granted bail to a pastor accused of blaspheming Islam because the complainant admitted that he had mistakenly accused him, Morning Star News reports. Karma Patras, a 55-year-old pastor of Bado Malhi, Sangla Hill, had been languishing in Sheikhupura District Jail since October after preaching on Jesus' sacrifice at a funeral attended mainly by Christians. Some Muslims present thought he was speaking against the Islamic animal slaughter ritual observed at the time, and Patras was confused when police showed up at his home later that day and arrested him on charges of defaming Islam. Victims of false accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan usually spend months in jail without trial, and then many more months after conviction; if charges are dismissed, it does not usually happen until cases reach appeal, as most trial judges cannot withstand the pressure of furious Islamic extremists. Retraction of an accusation is also rare in Pakistan. "Patras' release is the rarest instance of a complainant in a blasphemy case retracting his statement," one attorney said.
Yale Considers Joining Other Universities That Pay for Student Sex Changes
Yale is considering joining Brown, Penn, Harvard and Cornell universities by picking up the tab for students who want sex changes, Fox News reports. The New Haven, Conn., school is still reviewing policies regarding the procedure for its 5,322 undergraduate students and 6,526 graduate and professional students, but has already extended gender reassignment coverage to employees. "The benefit is offered to faculty and staff, and is being considered for students," said Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart. "Cost would vary depending on treatment." If Yale makes the change, it won't just join fellow Ivy League schools. At least 36 colleges and universities nationwide cover sex change surgeries in their student health plans. It's unknown how many students have the surgery, which can cost $25,000 or more.
Publication date: March 4, 2013