Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- New York Appeals Court Nixes Defense of Marriage Act
- Trial of Pakistani Christian Girl Accused of Blasphemy Postponed, Persecution Continues in Region
- Obama Promotes Planned Parenthood Funding in Debate
- University Official Suspended for Signing Marriage Petition Seeks Reinstatement
New York Appeals Court Nixes Defense of Marriage Act
A divided federal appeals court in Manhattan struck down the Defense of Marriage Act Thursday as unconstitutional, joining an appeals court in Boston in rejecting the law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, WORLD Magazine reports. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its 2-to-1 ruling just weeks after hearing arguments Sept. 27 on a lower court judge's ruling that DOMA was unconstitutional. The majority opinion, written by judge Dennis Jacobs, rejected a section of the law that defined "marriage" as only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife and "spouse" as only a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case in the next year.
Trial of Pakistani Christian Girl Accused of Blasphemy Postponed, Persecution Continues in Region
The juvenile court hearing of Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Christian girl arrested for blasphemy in mid-August and released on bail three weeks later, has been postponed until November 14, Asia News reports. The ruling came after Rimsha's lawyer filed a petition stating that the blasphemy charges were false and baseless, demanding the case be dismissed and Rimsha be released since there was no offense. The lawyer added that the local imam who deliberately desecrated the Quran to frame Rimsha fabricated the story in order to force out minority Christians from their homes and seize their assets, and that if anyone committed blasphemy, it was him, according to the testimony of three witnesses who, however, later retracted. The imam remains free on bail, and his lawyers are trying to delay proceedings. Prosecutors have indicated they are not planning to try him on blasphemy charges, which, critics point out, is an example of how the blasphemy law is used arbitrarily against minorities and adversaries. Meanwhile, persecution targeting Pakistani Christians continues, with attacks on churches in Karachi and Faisalabad over the weekend.
Obama Promotes Planned Parenthood Funding in Debate
Planned Parenthood was among President Obama's buzzwords during the second presidential debate Oct. 16 as he mentioned the nation's largest abortion provider five times, using it to distinguish himself from Republican candidate Mitt Romney, Baptist Press reports. In discussions about tax cuts, workplace inequalities, differences between Romney and George W. Bush, and earning votes for reelection, Obama underscored Romney's pledge to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, in the last statistics available, received $487.4 million in government funds in 2009-10 and performed 329,445 abortions in 2010. In this election season, Obama launched a television ad campaign that made his pro-choice views a major theme; no previous Democratic nominee has ever made abortion a major general election theme in TV ads.
University Official Suspended for Signing Marriage Petition Seeks Reinstatement
Last week, Gallaudet University's Dr. Angela McCaskill was suspended for her position as chief diversity officer because she had signed a petition opposing Maryland's Question 6, which would make same-sex marriage legal in the state. After news of McCaskill's suspension drew fire -- and more than 52,000 people across the country signed a petition for her reinstatement -- Gallaudet president T. Alan Hurwitz released a statement Tuesday saying he would "like to work" with McCaskill to "enable her to return" to the university, WORLD Magazine reports. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said the situation had a chilling effect on supporters of traditional family values. "Dr. McCaskill is the perfect illustration of what's at stake if Question 6 passes," he said. "The effort to redefine marriage is all about our most basic civil rights -- the right to worship, to speak freely, to cast our ballots, even, in Dr. McCaskill's case, to pursue a livelihood. Even the simple act of participating in the political process is grounds for dismissal."
Publication date: October 19, 2012