Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- 52,000 Letters En Route to Iran for Imprisoned American Pastor
- Gosnell Jury Begins Second Week of Deliberations
- Texas Judge Rules Cheerleaders Can Make Bible Banners
- Pro-Life Senator Loses Bid to Examine Country's Abortion Policies
52,000 Letters En Route to Iran for Imprisoned American Pastor
More than 52,000 letters have been written to American pastor Saeed Abedini, commending him for his strong demonstration of faith as he languishes in an Iranian prison, Baptist Press reports. The Web-based campaign was launched by the American Center for Law and Justice ahead of Abedini's 33rd birthday on May 7. The ACLJ, which is representing Abedini's wife and children in the United States, reported that 52,501 letters have been written to the pastor, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent who has been sentenced to eight years in prison for converting to Christianity. "These letters show the impact Pastor Saeed's case is having on people's lives," the ACLJ said. "One letter reads: 'Your message of forgiveness is an amazing testimony and actually helped us realize there was someone in our life we needed to forgive. Thank you.'" The large number of letters also serves to let Iranian officials know that the international community is still fighting for Pastor Saeed's release, said Tiffany Barrans, international legal director of the ACLJ. The ACLJ said it is printing out and delivering each letter through intermediaries to Evin Prison in Tehran; more letters can still be written at SaveSaeed.org.
Gosnell Jury Begins Second Week of Deliberations
The jurors deliberating Kermit Gosnell's fate have been at work for a week now, sifting through hundreds of hours of testimony to determine whether the Philadelphia abortionist is guilty of murder, WORLD reports. Gosnell faces four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of infants prosecutors say survived late-term abortions. He also faces one count of third-degree murder in the death of a patient who overdosed on anesthesia. Additional charges include racketeering, performing illegal abortions after 24 weeks, failing to observe the 24-hour waiting period, and endangering a child's welfare for employing a 15-year-old in the procedure area. The multiplicity of charges could explain why jurors are taking their time to review the evidence. Thursday morning, jurors requested to review the testimony of former Gosnell assistant Adrienne Moton, who testified to "snipping" the spines of 10 babies born alive during abortion procedures. Late Tuesday, the jury asked to review testimony given by Moton's coworker, Lynda Williams, who said she saw Gosnell use scissors to slice through the spinal cords of at least 30 babies after they were born.
Texas Judge Rules Cheerleaders Can Make Bible Banners
A judge has ruled that cheerleaders at a southeast Texas high school can display banners emblazoned with Bible verses at football games -- a decision that supporters are calling a victory for religions freedom, Todd Starnes reports. State District Judge Steve Thomas ruled Wednesday that the Kountze High School cheerleaders' banners were constitutionally permissible, and determined that no law "prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events." High school and middle school cheerleaders in Kountze had painted Bible verses on the large paper banners they created for the football players to run through at the start of games, but after the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint, the school district banned the messages. Last October, Judge Thomas granted a temporary injunction that allowed the cheerleaders to continue displaying the banners. Roger Byron, an attorney with the Liberty Institute, said: "The court's order today that the cheerleaders' run-through banners are constitutionally permissible vindicates our clients' rights and brings this case to a successful end. This is a great victory, not only for these cheerleaders, but for religious liberty of student leaders across the country."
Pro-Life Senator Loses Bid to Examine Country's Abortion Policies
A Senate resolution aimed at examining the policies that led to the practices of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell's "House of Horrors" clinic was blocked Monday evening, WORLD reports. On Monday, Utah Sen. Mike Lee introduced the resolution, co-signed by 11 other senators, calling for the Senate to "investigate and correct abusive, unsanitary and illegal abortion practices." Lee tried to speed the resolution's passage on Monday night to try to quicken a response, but one unknown senator thwarted a unanimous vote. Lee said he did not understand why someone would object to his non-binding resolution asking Congress to examine what allows Gosnell-like clinics to operate with little scrutiny. "With numerous reports of similar instances surfacing around the country, the need for greater regulatory oversight of these so-called clinics is so plainly obvious," Lee said. "It strains the limits of disbelief to think all members of the Senate would not agree."
Publication date: May 10, 2013