Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Pakistan: 14-Year-Old Girl Released on Bail into Protective Custody
- Study: Most Churchgoers Don't Read Bible Daily
- Russian Government Demolishes Pentecostal Church
- New Marriage Challenge Appealed to Supreme Court
Pakistan: 14-Year-Old Girl Released on Bail into Protective Custody
A Pakistani court has ordered that Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old accused of blasphemy, is to be released into protective custody, on bail security of approximately $10,500, Open Doors News reports. It's rare that bail is granted in a blasphemy case, partly for the defendant's own safety, but Rimsha's lawyers pleaded that she was a juvenile. She is expected to be released shortly, after which a further application will be made to drop all charges against her. Robinson Asghar, aide to the Minister for National Harmony, said she was expected to re-join her family in a secret location. In Friday's hearing, lawyers for local mosque leader Khalid Jadoon -- who supported Rimsha's original accuser, her neighbor Malik Ammad -- argued that Rimsha should not receive bail. However, Jadoon has now himself been charged with blasphemy for framing Rimsha by planting pages of the Quran among burnt papers in her bags. He has been charged with desecration of the Quran, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment, and he could also be convicted of falsely accusing a minor. Jadoon, who denies the charges, remains in custody until Sept. 16.
Study: Most Churchgoers Don't Read Bible Daily
While the majority of churchgoers desire to honor Christ with their lives and even profess to think on biblical truths, a recent study found few actually engage in personal reading and study of the Bible, Baptist Press reports. The survey by LifeWay Research found 90 percent of churchgoers agree that "I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do," and 59 percent agree that "throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths." However, when asked how often they personally -- not as part of a church worship service -- read the Bible, 19 percent said "every day," 26 percent said "a few times a week," 14 percent said "once a week," 22 percent said "once a month" or "a few times a month," and 18 percent said "rarely/never."
Russian Government Demolishes Pentecostal Church
Human rights defenders and church members have expressed shock and outrage at the sudden destruction of a Pentecostal church in Moscow's eastern suburbs, which was apparently court-ordered, ASSIST News Service reports. Unknown workers -- backed by police and civil volunteers -- began tearing down Holy Trinity Pentecostal Church soon after midnight on Sept. 6, and by morning almost the entire three-story building had been destroyed. According to human rights groups, the Holy Trinity congregation had tried to meet the city's legal requirements, but "there was a court decision that we cannot use the building anymore, and it does not belong to us any longer," a church member explained. "They came at night to avoid conflict with people. ... We can do nothing ... just pray and cry." He explained that the Russian government was "forcibly" relocating churches, giving them land in more remote areas to construct new buildings. "The usual conditions are that the church develops the property within some specified time period," he said -- but in order to build on the land, permits are needed, which are often rejected or denied. When a congregation fails to meet the deadline, the land is repossessed and everything built on it becomes government property. Holy Trinity is among many evangelical churches kicked out of Moscow in recent months, incidents which some Christian leaders fear are evident that religious freedom in the country is fading.
New Marriage Challenge Appealed to Supreme Court
A Boston group supporting special rights for homosexuals appealed another case to the U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 22 -- the sixth so far to challenge the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), WORLD News Service reports. In this most recent case, Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) are representing 13 people in (or widowed from) same-sex marriages in Connecticut, Vermont or New Hampshire who are seeking federal benefits related to marital status. Under DOMA, such benefits are only allowed to opposite-sex married couples. A seventh case asks the court to decide the constitutionality of Prop 8, the constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman in California, passed by voters there in 2008. Bill Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation, said pressure was intensifying for the high court justices. "The DOMA cases are the kinds that the Supreme Court would take," Duncan said. "If the Supreme Court does not hear these cases, it means DOMA might not be enforced in states like California, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. And that creates a weird situation."
Publication date: September 10, 2012