Pakistan is a perennial recipient of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. It's an occasional ally/frequent enemy, sometimes actively conspiring against U.S. interests, sometimes actually firing on U.S. troops (incidents so notorious they now have their own Wikipedia page), and — of course — it's the home of increasingly virulent jihadist extremism. And, no, this extremism isn't confined to the fringes of Pakistani society but is sometimes even manifested in its appellate courts.
Last week, a Pakistani court of appeals upheld Asia Bibi's death sentence for blasphemy. She's a Christian and a mother of five.
Death. For allegedly saying bad things about Mohammed. more >>
Idaho couple Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers and owners of the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel of Coeur d'Alene, are facing thousands of dollars in fines and possible jail time for refusing to host gay wedding ceremonies, which the city claims violates its anti-discrimination ordinance. The couple has since filed their business as a religious organization, which means they might be saved by an Idaho law that protects religious freedom.
Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom legal organization, told The Christian Post that while Coeur d'Alene has an ordinance saying that under "public accommodation" businesses cannot discriminate, state law offeres a possible exemption for the Knapps.
"In addition to our federal claims (i.e. First Amendment), our complaint brings a cause of action under the Idaho Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act," Tedesco said. "[Under] Idaho Code § 73–401 et seq., this state law says 'government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion ...'" more >>
Matt Stolhandske, a board member of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality who describes himself as a gay evangelical Christian, is now seeking to raise funds to help Oregon-based Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein pay off approximately $150,000 in fines levied against them by the state because they refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding.
The Kleins' case became a national conversation last September after they were forced to shutter their business, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, after gay activists killed it with "mafia tactics."
In January, investigators from Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries found the Christian bakery owners guilty of violating the civil rights of lesbian couple Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman of Portland for refusing to bake their wedding cake. Investigators said they found significant evidence that the Kleins discriminated against the couple unlawfully because of their sexual orientation. more >>
American citizen Jeffrey Fowle was freed by North Korea on Tuesday, after having been arrested in May for leaving a Bible at a sailor's club in the city of Chongjin. While Fowle is to be flown home to his family in Ohio, the White House has urged the two other American citizens held by North Korea to be released as well.
"While this is a positive decision ... we remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller and again call on the DPRK to immediately release them," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Fowle, a 56-year-old street repair worker from Miamisburg, Ohio, was accused by the North Korean government of religious proselytizing, which is considered a serious offense in the Pacific nation. more >>
A group working to protect Christians from blasphemy laws has said that international pressure on Pakistan is needed to overturn the death penalty handed to Christian mother of five Asia Bibi. Christian leaders in Pakistan have vowed to continue appealing the case and fighting for the mother's life.
"We continue to hope because, as Christians, our faith nourishes hope. We continue to pray for Asia Bibi and for her release, so that the Lord protects and comforts her. But there are many elements that are not conducive to optimism," said Haroon Barkat, director of the Masihi Foundation, in an interview with Fides News Agency on Tuesday.
Barkat, whose group works in Pakistan to protect Christians falsely accused of blasphemy, added that "international pressures and mobilization can be useful" in influencing the case. He said that above all, "the political will of the government and of the highest authorities in Pakistan is needed" to put an end to the many false blasphemy cases where Christians in Pakistan are persecuted. more >>
Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d'Alene.
"Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted," their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. "The threat of enforcement is more than just credible." more >>