Pakistani Prison officials have confirmed that a Catholic death row inmate, who was tortured into confessing to three murders over 23 years ago when he was just 15 years old, was executed on Wednesday.
Aftab Bahadur, who was convicted of the 1992 killings of Sabiha Bari and her two sons, was hanged at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, but not before he had one last chance to proclaim his innocence.
"Aftab Bahadur was hanged at District Jail Lahore on Wednesday at 4.30 a.m.," an unnamed prison official told Reuters. "Before the hanging, he was crying and saying he was innocent." more >>
Being a chaplain inside a family detention center is an exercise in impossibility. How do you encourage mothers to cry, fearful for their psychological and spiritual well being if they hold everything in, when you know it terrifies their children to see them weep? How do you help people begin to heal when their trauma is ongoing? How do you connect despairing but tenaciously faithful mothers with communities on the outside, as a tiny way to break through their isolation?
As a Sister of Mercy, these questions were part of the reality I witnessed firsthand during my two-month service as interim chaplain at the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC), a detention facility for mothers and children.
For nearly a year, the rapid construction of family detention centers in the U.S. for women and children has resulted in makeshift, overcrowded conditions, mistreatment, health issues, and even malnutrition. Public outrage forced closure of the New Mexico family detention center last winter, yet the Obama administration continues to pursue the failed practice despite the fact that we have a moral obligation to uphold the rights of women and children seeking asylum. more >>
Days before the Justice Conference opened last Friday, conference organizers almost cancelled the event's headline speaker, Dr. Cornel West. That's according to Stephan Bauman, President and CEO of World Relief, which sponsored the conference. Bauman said West – a prominent socialist, activist, and proponent of black liberation theology – sparked considerable protest from World Relief's conservative constituency.
"Cornel West is controversial among conservatives," Bauman said. "And, some of those conservatives were concerned about Cornel West's track record, his history . . . And, I respect that. I understand that."
During the conference, Bauman told me that he and conference organizers decided to keep West because they wanted to "have dialogue about the things (West) may see differently than others," like race relations. They also felt West was someone who is "deeply in love with Jesus." more >>
A massacre of Christians in Lahore, Pakistan, was prevented back in May partly due to three Muslim leaders standing up against other Islamic imams inciting a mass attack on Christians for alleged blasphemy. A total of 22 Muslims have so far been arrested in the incident.
Fides News Agency reported on Tuesday that Christian lawyers in the region are speaking out about the incident, which occurred on May 24. Local Christian man Humayun Faisal was accused of burning pages of the Quran, which is considered blasphemous, and has led to mob attacks on Christians in a number of cases.
Police saved Faisal from the lynching by arresting him, but Islamic protesters then turned their anger toward the Christian community in the neighborhood where the man lived. more >>
Indiana's First Church of Cannabis, an organization that is expected to test the limits of the state's new controversial religious freedom law by using marijuana recreationally during its services, has purchased a former church building as its worship center where it plans to host Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
The group's founder, former musician Bill Levin, told Indy Star that the new building located in Indianapolis' Eastside area will include a souvenir store and will host the recovery meetings in the basement.
"We closed on a church last night. We have the keys to our new home. It is [a] small and humble facility with love throughout every brick. We are HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!," said Levin on his Facebook page on Monday. more >>
The family of Walter Scott, a father of four who was shot dead by former North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager, expressed relief on Monday after news broke that the ex-lawman had been formally indicted for murder.
A South Carolina grand jury indicted Slager, 33, in the April 4 death of Scott. Chris Stewart, the Scott family's attorney, said Monday that they plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of North Charleston and the local police force.
"Today was just an example of if you keep the faith, even in the darkest times, you will see the light," Stewart said at a press conference. "We are going to patiently wait for the criminal trial in this case and we are going to patiently wait to see if the city, the police department and the chief are going to take responsibility in the civil suit." more >>