News Update - September 2015

Court Shuts Down Attempt to Stop Release of More Planned Parenthood Videos
A federal court has shut down a pro-choice group's attempt to prevent the Center for Medical Progress from releasing more Planned Parenthood videos. 

Life News reports pro-choice group the National Abortion Federation (NAF) served the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) a restraining order on July 31, preventing the CMP from posting any videos with footage from their meetings. 

The NAF said it "filed today in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction which would prohibit the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), David Daleiden, and others from releasing recordings and materials they illegally obtained at NAF's educational meetings."

The order was extended several times, but has now been blocked from permanence by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. While the restraining order has not been lifted, the stay indicates that the 9th Circuit court judges question the validity of the restraining order. 

Many pro-life advocates say the restraining order violated the CMP project leader David Daleiden's right to freedom of speech. 

Katie Short of Life Legal said, "David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress are exercising their First Amendment rights in order to expose the unconscionable practices of Planned Parenthood and other abortionists. Despite howls of derision from abortion apologists, CMP's video evidence has proven very effective in showing the public what the abortion industry is really all about. If these weren't such a threat to the status quo, Planned Parenthood allies such as the National Abortion Federation would not be pulling out all the stops to silence them."

Christian Headlines

Court in Sudan Rules Government Interfered with Church
A court has ruled that committees the Sudanese government imposed on a North Khartoum church in order to enable Muslim investors to take it over were illegal, sources said. 

A victory in the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church's four-year battle to retain ownership of its property, the Aug. 31 ruling by the Administrative Court of Appeal ruled the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments interfered with church matters, the sources said.

The church, which belongs to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), has been subject to arrests and demolition of its property as the congregation has objected to the attempted takeover. Two South Sudanese pastors were jailed since December 2014 and January respectively, charged with capital crimes, over their support for the congregation's fight to prevent the take-over by Muslim investors.

The Rev. Yat Michael, 49, and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, 36, could have been sentenced to death or whipping had they been convicted of the serious charges concocted against them by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). They were convicted of lesser charges on Aug. 5 and released on time served. They and their families have since relocated to a third country to protect them from Islamist retaliation.

Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church and SPEC leaders said they consider the court ruling a step in the right direction toward ending all attempts to hand over their property to Muslim investors.

"Things are working well for us; thank God for all your prayers for the church," said SPEC Treasurer George Adam. The Rev. Yahya Abdelrahim Nalu, a senior SPEC leader, described the ruling as a great victory for the church. Whether the government will try to appeal has remained unclear, though church leaders said the ruling was final.

"The ministry has no right to interfere into the matters of SPEC," according to the ruling. The court cited the fact that SPEC has its own constitution and leadership structure to govern its activities, and that no entity should interfere in its internal affairs.

Christian Headlines

Anglican Church in Kenya Expels Priests Accused of Practicing Homosexuality
In an unprecedented move, the Anglican Church in Kenya on Sept. 10 expelled five priests for allegedly engaging in homosexual activity.

The priests, from the diocese of Mt. Kenya West in Central Kenya, were under investigation since mid-August. "That is the stand of the churchthey have to be out of the ministry," said the bishop under whom the priests served.

The five had earlier been suspended to allow a tribunal to probe the allegations made against them. Four of the priests are married while one is single. They are said to have had relations with other adult men for as long as 20 years. The identity of the priests has so far not been made public.

"To address the question that many may have on the identity of the persons involved, we are compelled to conceal their identityit is wrong in the church and in the entire public," Bishop Joseph Kagunda said. He announced the tribunal formed to investigate the conduct of the priests had established some of the accused had been having sexual relations with fellow priests and members of their congregations for a long time.

Kagunda said the church would withdraw the priests' licenses but would not report the cases to the police, in spite of homosexuality being illegal in Kenya. He said it was up to the aggrieved parties to decide whether to report the cases to the police or not. "What we have done in the church is to withdraw their licenseswe cannot say whether it is temporary or not because they have the right to appeal," Kagunda added.

Christian Headlines

Christians Call on Indonesia's President to Combat Islamic Extremism
The president of Indonesia needs to do more to combat Islamic extremists' persecution of Christian minorities, a new report states.

The World Evangelical Alliance said Aug. 31 that though President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, wants to check growing Islamic extremism in the majority Muslim country, his methods have not succeeded.

"Since the beginning of his presidency, Jokowi has been implementing a cautious bottom-up strategy, which is needed to promote tolerance and moderation, while avoiding a direct confrontation with extremist groups. This perhaps explains why he has not been taking enough top-down measures required to improve law and order. And extremist groups seem to have little fear of action by the government yet," the report stated.

Indonesia has the highest Muslim population in the world, but legally guarantees religious freedom to people of four other religions, including Christianity. Because of increasing persecution, many supported Jokowi's candidacy in 2014. His agenda included human rights, freedom, and opposition to religious intolerance.

The deputy director of Asia for Human Rights Watch recently credited Jokowi for publicly admitting Indonesia has a religious intolerance problem. He said militant Islamists have increasingly targeted Christians, along with Shiite and Ahmadiyya Muslims, with intimidation, threats, and violence. As many as 500 Muslims from Indonesia have joined ISIS, according to The Jakarta Post. In 2014, Islamic State (ISIS) openly recruited in Indonesia, prompting government concern about the threat to religious diversity within the country.

In recent years, Indonesian Islamists have threatened and intimidated people, vandalized and burned down churches, and forced congregations underground. Catholic Online reported that since 2007, more than 200 churches have been destroyed. Rebuilding can be nearly impossible, in part because of government inaction.

Christians already must go through numerous difficult steps, including soliciting support from Muslim neighbors in their communities, just to get government permission to create new churches. Even when they succeed, radical Muslims often challenge their legal status, forcing them to close down while authorities investigate the charges.

In two cases, the Supreme Court of Indonesia ruled the Christian churches were legal and should reopen, but a local mayor refused to carry out the ruling, "undermining the rule of law," according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Christian Headlines

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