Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Spending Bill Reinstates Abstinence Education Funding
- Algeria Stalls Appeal of Convicted Christian
- Pastors, City Council Members Protest NYC's Ban of Church Services in Schools
- Virginia Allows Faith-Based Adoption Groups Freedom of Conscience
Spending Bill Reinstates Abstinence Education Funding
A $662 billion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress Dec. 14 contains $5 million for abstinence education programs, WORLD News Service reports. In 2009, the Obama administration slashed community-based sexual risk avoidance (SRA) programs from the federal budget -- giving comprehensive, condom-based sex education programs $16 for every $1 spent on abstinence education. However, "this funding of five million dollars is contrasted against about 100 million dollars in the budget for contraceptive sex education," said Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association. "We are a long way from parity. But it's definitely a step in the right direction."
Algeria Stalls Appeal of Convicted Christian
A judge's decision this month to indefinitely postpone the appeal of a Christian sentenced under Algeria's defamation and anti-proselytizing laws shows how the judicial system often keeps Christians locked up without officially punishing or acquitting them, according to Compass Direct News. In Abdelkrim Siaghi's appeal of his five-year sentence for giving a Muslim a CD about Christianity, a judge has been unable to find any evidence against him and has postponed hearing dates several times. Experts on Algeria's treatment of Christians say Algerian courts customarily have preferred to defer deciding in favor of Christians so they wouldn't anger local Muslims. Judges have also been slow to pronounce final verdicts to keep from provoking international criticism over religious freedom.
Pastors, City Council Members Protest NYC's Ban of Church Services in Schools
More than 100 pastors, church members and legislators gathered on the steps of City Hall in New York City on Dec. 8 to protest the city's ban on churches renting public school rooms for evening or weekend services, WORLD News Service reports. Courts declared the ban legal, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused Dec. 5 to hear an appeal. City councilman Fernando Cabrera, also a Bronx pastor, is leading an effort to get the council to overturn the ban; his bill would prevent school districts from excluding groups from meeting on school property because their viewpoints include religious content. About 60 churches currently rent space in New York City public schools, and if the ban remains, they will all have to find other space by Feb. 12.
Virginia Allows Faith-Based Adoption Groups Freedom of Conscience
The Virginia Board of Social Services voted 5-1 on Dec. 14 on a new set of regulations allowing faith-based adoption agencies the right not to place children in households led by same-sex couples, WORLD News Service reports. Of the state's 81 private child-placement agencies, 42 are faith-based organizations. Under the new regulations, set to take effect in May, the only characteristics adoption agencies may not take into consideration when placing a child are the prospective parents' race, national origin and ethnicity. The state allows both single and married people to adopt or become foster parents, but not cohabitating couples. Though gay-rights activists characterized the move as discriminatory, Virginia law is actually silent on the issue of sexual orientation.
Publication date: December 19, 2011