Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- First French Burqa Ban Opponent Fined
- Ted Haggard to Appear on 'Wife Swap' TV Show
- Rob Bell to Leave Mars Hill Church
- Alabama Town's Criminals Get Choice: Jail or Church
First French Burqa Ban Opponent Fined
Authorities have levied the first fine -- $162 -- against a Muslim woman for breaking France's ban on full-face veils and burqas, according to Religion News Service. Hind Ahmas told CNN she sought out the punishment so she could take her fight to a higher court. "I am happy to be fined," she said. "I'm fighting to be able to walk freely in the street." The new French law has drawn criticism from Muslims as discriminatory, but authorities insist the prohibition is necessary for national security reasons as well as upholding the French values of equality, dignity and national identity.
Ted Haggard to Appear on 'Wife Swap' TV Show
Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard and Hollywood actor Gary Busey will appear on an upcoming edition of ABC-TV's "Celebrity Wife Swap," a reality show about wives experiencing daily life in another home for a week, the Associated Press reports. Haggard's wife Gayle will move in with Busey, but it is unclear whether Busey's longtime girlfriend will be the one to move in with Haggard. Haggard is the former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, which had 14,000 members when he resigned in 2006 after a man said Haggard paid him for sex.
Rob Bell to Leave Mars Hill Church
Rob Bell, the pastor who ignited a debate earlier this year about heaven and hell and who many recognize as "moving farther and farther away from biblical Christianity," has announced his departure from the 10,000-member Mars Hill Church, which he founded with his wife 12 years ago, Christianity Today reports. Mars Hill said in a statement that Bell "felt the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities ... to extend the heartbeat of the message of [God's love] to our world in new and creative ways." Bell, the producer of the popular NOOMA video series, recently sparked controversy among Christians with his book Love Wins, which discounted the existence of hell and asserted that "a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering."
Alabama Town's Criminals Get Choice: Jail or Church
Non-violent offenders in the southern Alabama town of Bay Minette will have a new choice: Go to jail, or go to church every Sunday for a year, CBS News reports. As part of "Operation Restore Our Community," misdemeanor offenders will be allowed to choose a place of worship and check in weekly with the pastor and police, instead of paying a fine and serving jail time. If the one-year church attendance program is completed, the offender's case will be dismissed. So far, 56 churches are participating, and police chief Mike Rowland says the program could change the lives of people heading down the wrong path.
Publication date: September 26, 2011