Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Court: Wisconsin Schools' Church Graduation Unconstitutional
  • Chick-fil-A Supporters Respond to Attacks Over Gay Marriage Comments
  • Iran: Imprisoned Pastor in Critical Condition
  • Indonesia: Church Set on Fire as Forced Closures Continue

 

Court: Wisconsin Schools' Church Graduation Unconstitutional

A federal court has ruled that two Wisconsin high schools violated the U.S. Constitution by holding graduations at a church, CBN News reports. After Brookfield Central and Brookfield East High schools both held their graduation ceremonies at Elmbrook Church, a group of students and parents argued the schools had violated the separation of church and state. With a 7-3 vote on Monday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a previous court decision that the schools had done nothing wrong, arguing students were exposed to "religious messages" by the cross in the church sanctuary and religious pamphlets and hymnals in the pews.

Chick-fil-A Supporters Respond to Attacks Over Gay Marriage Comments

Conservative radio and TV host Mike Huckabee and the National Organization for Marriage are calling on people to eat at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, July 25, to support Dan Cathy, the company's president, who has come under fire and boycott threats by gay activists for saying in recent interviews that he supported traditional marriage, the Christian Post reports. "Imagine if folks all across the country united together in support of heroes like Dan and Truett Cathy that stand for strengthening marriage and family!" wrote Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "Imagine how clearly that message would be heard across the nation if Chick-fil-A reported record sales this Wednesday! Please join me this Wednesday in supporting this courageous company, while at the same time sending a powerful message to every individual and every company with the courage to stand for marriage." Chick-fil-A was founded by S. Truett Cathy in 1967; he and his family are devout Christians, and Dan Cathy says they operate their organization according to biblical principles.

Iran: Imprisoned Pastor in Critical Condition

Behnam Irani, a 41-year-old Iranian pastor serving prison time, is currently facing severe health concerns as a result of physical persecution, Mission Network News reports. Irani, who was arrested while conducting a Bible study and convicted in January 2011 of crimes against national security, is serving a five-year sentence in Karaj's Ghezel Hesar Prison. He has suffered several beatings from prison authorities and his cell mates, and authorities have ordered the beatings to occur regularly. After losing consciousness due to colon complications and severe bleeding from ulcers, he was admitted into a military hospital, but his health is reportedly declining because of harsh mistreatment and prison conditions. According to Voice of the Martyrs, there are growing concerns that he may not survive the next few months. Irani is a husband and a father to two children, and his family is concerned about his poor health, especially since his brother died from intestinal cancer. Ghezal Hesar Prison is one of Iran's largest and most notorious prisons for violence and cramped conditions; it houses 20,000 inmates, 300 times its holding capacity.

Indonesia: Church Set on Fire as Forced Closures Continue

Concern is growing among Christians in Indonesia's Aceh province after a series of recent attacks by extremist groups or unknown assailants, AsiaNews reports. The violence is worsened by the policy of local authorities, who, instead of halting attacks, continue closing churches and prayer halls for the alleged lack of building permits, which are required for all construction in Indonesia (religious and non-religious). On July 18, the Pakpak Dairi Christian Protestant Church in Singkil was attacked and set on fire by a group of strangers. Investigators have not identified any culprits, but the prompt intervention of Christians prevented the complete destruction of the building. In a statement released this week, the Christian Alliance of United North Sumatra said such attacks are of "growing concern," given that there is no "protection or recognition" for religious groups or minorities. The situation in Singkil is getting worse, with increasing violations of religious freedom in addition to non-intervention by the central government in Jakarta when local governments violate the rights and freedoms of citizens, particularly non-Muslims.

Publication date: July 25, 2012