Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Iran: 11 Christians Walk Free from Court
An Iranian court has actually acquitted 11 members of an evangelical denomination charged with ‘action against the order of the country’ and drinking alcohol. The charges referred to their involvement in a house church meeting and to taking communion wine. In the written verdict, the court ruled that the Christians' activities were covered by Article 13 of the Iranian Constitution, Christians to perform “perform their religious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education." Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “In a climate where evangelical Christians are regularly targeted by the regime, this acquittal is a very welcome development. It is unfortunate that although the Iranian constitution clearly states that Christians are a protected minority, such protection is denied to any who do not belong to Iran’s traditional churches."
Girl's Bake Sale Yields $3,000 for Haiti
As her pastor was reminding church members that thousands of Haitians are still homeless from the January 2010 earthquake, 10-year-old Mallory Fernald was listening closely. "I felt sad and wanted to do something to help," Mallory said, according to Baptist Press. She persuaded her mother to hold a bake sale in her hometown of Live Oak, Fla., with the goal of contributing $1,500 toward cement block homes for Haitian families. Jeff Scott, a deacon at First Baptist and local pharmacist, gave Mallory permission to set up her bake sale outside his store and also offered to match any funds she raised up to $750. He then helped her produce a video promoting the bake sale for Rebuild Haiti. After being posted on the drugstore's website, the video found its way to YouTube. Facebook postings, a newspaper ad and numerous handmade posters also helped spread the word about the little girl with the big dream. Donations and baked goods poured in. After the March 25 sale, Mallory and her mother counted up the change and found they'd made $2,994.63. "That is going to build a home for a family in Haiti and start on a second home," she said. "This makes me so happy."
'Candy Cane Case' Could Make History
In December 2003, 8-year-old Jonathan Morgan had packed goodie bags for his classmates to open at their annual winter party. Instead, the bags were confiscated because he had candy cane pens and a message about Jesus in his goodie bags. Two years earlier, another Plano student had pencils confiscated because they said, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." Finally, school officials banned an entire class from writing "Merry Christmas" on cards to U.S. troops in Iraq. WORLD Magazine reports that today, Jonathan and two of his peers are at the center of a legal battle over First Amendment rights over whether children must leave their rights at the schoolhouse door. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear the schools' appeal, with former Solicitors General Kenneth Starr and Paul Clement representing the children. “This is a very important case for the First Amendment,” said Starr, who is the president of Baylor University. “For over a half-century, the Supreme Court and other courts have held that schoolchildren have constitutional rights, and that’s what’s at stake here."
Muslim Bookseller Accuses Christian Partner of Blasphemy
In a bizarre case of apparent business rivalry, a Muslim book store owner has reportedly implicated his former business partner by charging him with blasphemy. According to sources speaking on condition of anonymity, Gulzar Masih and a Muslim, Abdul Rauf, had been jointly running Ittefaq Book Store for a number of years, but they decided to part ways on bad terms. On May 1, within the precincts of the Kotwali police station, Rauf started shouting in front of a crowd of people that Masih had burned the Holy Koran, and thrown it on the road. The Kotwali Police wanted to initiate a case against Masih for desecrating the Koran, but ASSIST News Service reports that Christian elders and moderate Muslims intervened and found the story to be without basis. Masih is the owner of several other book stores. Masih's family is currently in hiding as a precaution.