Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- French Ban on Full-Face Veils Takes Effect
- Beijing Church Plans More Outdoor Services despite Arrests
- Church Forgives Bible Desecration in Pakistan
- Faith-Based 'Soul Surfer' Exceeds Box Office Expectations
French Ban on Full-Face Veils Takes Effect
Religion News Service reports that police arrested several veiled Muslim women Monday as France's controversial ban against the full-face veil came into force. At least two women wearing the face-covering veil, or niqab, were reportedly arrested at a small protest in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in downtown Paris, along with several sympathizers. "All I have done is to practice my rights as a citizen, I haven't committed any crime," said one of the woman, Kenza Drider. Supporters say the ban is critical to enforce France's strict separation of church and state -- and to ensure respect for women's rights. Critics disagree. "This law puts France to shame -- a country that prides itself on the human rights it claims to promote and protect, freedom of expression included," said Amnesty International's John Dalhuisen.
Beijing Church Plans More Outdoor Services despite Arrests
Even though Chinese authorities arrested at least 169 of its members last Sunday, the unregistered Shouwang Church in Beijing says they will continue their outdoor church services. The Christian Post reports that members of the 1,000-member church say they have no other options after being evicted from their meeting place. The government has allegedly refused permission for a permanent location. “The church’s position remains unchanged. We will continue to gather outdoors until the Lord shows us the way,” said a statement from Shouwang’s governing committee, BBC reported on Tuesday. The church said its activities are "purely religious" and "have nothing to do at all with politics."
Church Forgives Bible Desecration in Pakistan
Christian leaders in Pakistan are urging Christians to turn the other cheek after a Muslim destroyed a Bible outside a cathedral in the city of Lahore. “Promise me you won’t riot... Promise you won’t fight. It is another trial for Christianity in Pakistan. Be patient in suffering and follow the passion of Christ,” pleaded Lahore archdiocesan vicar general Father Andrew Nisari during Sunday Mass at Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. UCANews reports that Mohammad Akhtar, a Muslim factory worker, allegedly tore up a copy of the Bible on April 8, about a month after a pastor in the U.S. sanctioned the torching of the Koran. The burning sparked riots throughout the Muslim world. Akhtar is charged with blasphemy for "outraging religious feelings."
Faith-Based 'Soul Surfer' Exceeds Box Office Expectations
Big Hollywood reports that the Christian-themed "Soul Surfer" opened at number four at the box office this weekend, aided by strong marketing campaign to churches and pastors. Per screen, the movie beat out the number three movie, "Arthur," by $1,200. The film is based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a young tournament surfer whose Christian faith and family help her to overcome a shark attack that cost her an arm. Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt star. After some disagreement on the set, the film ended up including Scripture references. Both Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13 are mentioned in "Soul Surfer."