By visiting a Philadelphia prison on Sunday, Pope Francis highlighted America's broken criminal justice system, a crisis that will continue to burden poor and vulnerable communities unless addressed.
Ministry to prisoners has been a hallmark of Francis's papacy. He has consistently called Christians to visit prisoners — and to help create a fairer, more restorative criminal justice system.
Christians urgently need to pay attention to criminal justice issues. America has 2.3 million people locked up; 2.7 million children have a parent in prison; and 65 million Americans have a criminal record. Even the portraits of success, those who pay their debt to society and leave crime behind, continue to bear a "second sentence" — the endless stigma and regulations that limit what jobs they can do, where they can live, what benefits they can receive, and whether or not they can vote. more >>
WASHINGTON – There has been a huge upsurge in the effort to defund Planned Parenthood, reported a group of pro-life movement leaders at a large conservative gathering on Saturday.
At a panel that was part of the annual Values Voters Summit, pro-life activists noted that efforts to defund Planned Parenthood were gaining momentum in large part because of a series of undercover videos released by the California-based Center for Medical Progress.
Lila Rose, founder of LiveAction, told those gathered at the Empire Room of the Omni Shoreham Hotel that it was a "powerful and exciting time" for the movement. more >>
Members of El Tabernaculo de Fe, a large Hispanic Oklahoma City congregation, are now reportedly arguing with each other as their pastor, Rev. Velio Estrada, is locked in a legal battle with the Oklahoma City District Council of the Assemblies of God over who has rights to the church, as well as the management of the church's money.
Recently filed court records cited by KOCO.com said there have been heated arguments within the church, with some members even filing protective orders against others. One church member claimed to have received threats, but did not provide details.
Information cited from court records in an earlier report said the District Council had asked Estrada to step down after concerns were raised by church leaders over missing equipment which was sold despite a judge's order. The pastor was also alleged to have committed adultery. more >>
This summer, President Obama made history by becoming the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. He met with inmates at the Federal Corrections Institute in El Reno (30 miles west of Oklahoma City), listening to their stories and sharing his own. The President was right to visit the prison and to advocate reviewing how Americans view our criminal justice process.
Earlier in the week in a speech to the NAACP, he spoke about criminal justice reform and rightly focused on the role of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and "three strikes" laws in creating our burgeoning prison population. After noting that locking up violent criminals has indeed caused a decline in violent crime, he pointed out:
"But here's the thing: Over the last few decades, we've also locked up more and more nonviolent drug offenders than ever before, for longer than ever before. And that is the real reason our prison population is so high. In far too many cases, the punishment simply does not fit the crime. If you're a low-level drug dealer, or you violate your parole, you owe some debt to society. You have to be held accountable and make amends. But you don't owe 20 years. You don't owe a life sentence. That's disproportionate to the price that should be paid." more >>
A new documentary based on the infamous late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell who was sentenced to life in prison for killing a patient and born-alive babies is scheduled to debut in November.
Titled "3801 Lancaster: American Tragedy," the filmmakers released a new trailer for the documentary via YouTube earlier this week.
Jennifer Brown, producer of "3801 Lancaster," told The Christian Post that this documentary will be a longer version of a previous a 20-minute film created before Gosnell's trial. more >>
Bob Carswell, the 61-year-old pastor of Oasis Tabernacle Church in East Selma, Alabama, who took down a gunman who shot a woman and an infant inside the church on Sunday, said he was just doing his job to "protect his sheep" and has already forgiven the suspected gunman, James Minter, 26.
"No. This is just a shepherd doing his job to protect his sheep. No more. No less," said Carswell, reacting to the public praising him as a hero on Monday during an interview with WVTM13.
Carswell explained that he was about to start teaching from the book of Matthew shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday when he saw a young man brandish a pistol and shoot a woman and baby sitting in one of the front pews. He immediately sprang into action despite knowing that he could get shot. more >>