Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Florida Senate OKs School Prayer Bill
- Washington Senate Approves Gay Marriage Bill
- Sharia Court in India Expels Church Leaders, Hinders Ministry
- Activists Say Most Women Pro-Life
Florida Senate OKs School Prayer Bill
The Florida Senate this week approved a bill that would allow students to deliver "inspirational messages" at public school assemblies, the Miami Herald reports. The bill, introduced by Sen. Gary Siplin (D-Orlando), has been proposed and rejected many times in years past, but this year gained momentum and became one of the first bills to gain passage through the Senate with a 31-8 vote. All Senate Republicans, plus two Democrats, supported the bill, and Democrats cast each of the eight votes in opposition. The bill will now travel to the House; if it becomes law, local school boards could allow student volunteers to give invocations at any public school function without interference by district employees. "Students have every right to share their faith, to share their point of view," Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart) said. "This goes to our fundamental constitutional rights as Americans."
Washington Senate Approves Gay Marriage Bill
The Washington State Senate voted 28-21 to approve a same-sex marriage bill Wednesday night, effectively clearing the final hurdle to becoming the seventh state to redefine traditional marriage, the Christian Post reports. Four Republicans voted in favor of the bill and three Democrats opposed it. The Senate has long been viewed by the bill's supporters as the biggest obstacle to pass, since Washington's House of Representatives and Gov. Christine Gregoire have both expressed support for gay marriage. Those opposed to the bill could force a referendum onto the November ballot, but it would require collecting more than 120,000 signatures by June 6. If a referendum doesn't occur, gay couples will be able to marry by the end of June. A 2011 poll found that 43 percent of Washingtonians are in favor of same-sex marriage, while only 22 percent believe the state should keep the current system of civil unions.
Sharia Court in India Expels Church Leaders, Hinders Ministry
A self-styled sharia (Islamic law) court in India recently expelled three pastors from Kashmir state on allegations of "forced conversions," and is continuing efforts to silence the gospel in the area, according to Mission Network News. The sharia court is not a government court, but "simply a group of Muslim clerics who set themselves up and say, 'We will dictate what happens because Kashmir is Muslim,'" said David Bast of Words of Hope. The Muslim clerics issued a fatwa against the Christian leaders in January for "luring the Valley's Muslims to Christianity" after videos surfaced of a pastor baptizing Kashmiri Muslim youth. The pastor, facing death threats, was arrested soon afterwards, along with two other Christian workers accused of being accomplices. Since the incident, "Christian ministry has shut down in Kashmir ... and [Christians] have had to flee for their lives," Bast said. The area's last remaining above-ground church has since disappeared, and the sharia court has also called on the government to take over the management of missionary schools. Kashmir is India's only Muslim-majority state; Muslims make up 67 percent of the population and 97 percent of the Kashmir Valley.
Activists Say Most Women Pro-Life
As female pro-life leaders gathered in D.C. this week for one of the largest events ever held to honor and mobilize pro-life women, many of them echoed the same facts -- that the majority of American women are pro-life, and that they are the ones leading the fight against abortion, CBN News reports. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, cited statistics showing that pro-life women are now a majority, and a growing one. "People keep flocking in our direction as women themselves are speaking up to talk about how much the abortion experience damaged them, how much they regret that decision," she said. Radio personality Mary Katherine Ham added that many women were fed up with the insistence of liberal-leaning feminists that all liberated women must hold pro-choice views. "The truth is that women are at the helm of the pro-life movement," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List.
Publication date: February 3, 2012