Praise and Prayer

Praise/Pray: Islamic Court Acquits Iranian Christian of One Apostasy Charge, Returns Him to Prison on Another—An Islamic court in southern Iran acquitted Christian lay pastor Hamid Pourmand on apostasy and proselytizing charges on Saturday May 28, declaring, "Under sharia (Islamic law), there are no charges against you." The judge at the hearing in Bandar-i Bushehr said he was acquitting Pourmand, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity 25 years ago, because he had "done nothing wrong" according to Islamic law. But the lay pastor has been sent back to Tehran's Evin Prison to serve out a three-year prison sentence still under appeal before the Supreme Court for a separate conviction, also linked to his religious conversion. Following his return to prison, protests intensified in front of the Iranian Parliament demanding the release of prominent prisoners of conscience jailed with Pourmand at Evin Prison.

Compass via MissionNet

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Pray: Mom Sues After Bible Reading Barred at Her Child's School—A Pennsylvania school has been sued over its alleged censorship of a Christian mother and her young son. Last October, Donna Busch was invited to visit her son's kindergarten class in Philadelphia and to take part in "Me Week." As the featured student of the week, her son was allowed to choose his favorite book and have his mother read an excerpt from it aloud to the class at Culbertson Elementary. But when he chose the Bible as his preferred book, his mother was barred from reading a passage from Psalm 118 because of its religious content. Principal Thomas Cook told Mrs. Busch that reading the Bible in class is against the law because it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment — that is, the so-called "separation of church and state." According to John Whitehead, Busch's attorney with The Rutherford Institute, the incident might have passed over without further incident had it not been for the kindergartener, coming home and telling his mother that his teacher told him it was bad to read the Bible. The Pennsylvania mother contacted The Rutherford Institute, which has since filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging that the mother and son's free-speech and equal-protection rights were violated. Whitehead feels what happened at the elementary school was a case of blatant discrimination since the school officials, while silencing Busch, allowed other forms of religious expression to take place.

Agape Press via
Religion Today Summaries

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Pray: Couple in Nepal Imprisoned for Teaching Children About Jesus—A couple who runs children's homes in Nepal and India were charged with forced conversion and imprisoned on Wednesday, April 27, reported EquipNepal, a ministry that operates a child sponsorship program and the two children's homes. The husband, a native of India, and his Nepali wife have taken in orphans for 10 years and cared for 77 children in one home in southern Nepal and nine children in a second home in northern India. The couple also runs a Christian school. Jan Viren, president of the Wyoming-based ministry, said the problem began with a disgruntled teacher at the school, but it escalated when several newspaper articles were written, asking that the couple be imprisoned for teaching the orphans about Jesus. The imprisonment could last days or years, Viren said. "We know that their faith in Christ is strong and that they are in His hands."

Assist News Service via MissionNet

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Praise: "God Squad" Helps Build Morale of U.S. Troops in Iraq—A Navy chaplain and his assistant are helping Marines and sailors in Fallujah, Iraq, in the ongoing war against terrorism. Navy Lt. Matthew Weems, flanked by his religious program specialist Petty Officer 2nd class Aaron Neely, are key weapons in the effort to maintain good morale among the 800 troops in the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-1. "We're here to give encouragement to the Marines and sailors, and to provide for the free religious expression of all in the command," said Weems. Nicknamed the "God Squad" by the battalion, Weems, 33, and Neely, 21, provide more than weekly religious services. The two men regularly attach themselves to convoys and patrols through the city to establish a rapport with the troops in addition to the time they spend at the battalion's bases. Maintaining visibility with the troops within the city allows Weems to empathize with their situation and makes him more approachable.

Religion today/Baptist Press
via MissionNet

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