Here at WordJourney, we have been following several stories and have been bringing that news to you. Three stories have required regular monitoring, with the following serving as our most current information for each.
UNC-G Club Recognition — The University of North Carolina at Greensboro made news earlier this month when it refused recognition to the “Make Up Your Own Mind” group, a gathering of Christians on its campus. That group had sought recognition by the university, a move that would have given the group access to university facilities as well as receive funding.
UNC-G denied several requests by MUYOM for recognition, leading its members to contact the Alliance Defense Fund for assistance. The ADF filed a federal lawsuit against the university, disputing the university’s assertion that the group had to be affiliated with a local religious institution. Earlier this week the Associated Press reported that the group would receive university recognition as well as an apology from the school for delaying the determination of its status as a recognized group. As of this writing, formal legal confirmation had yet to be received.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani — Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani continues to wait patiently in an Iranian jail as his captors threaten to execute him for “religious crimes.” Nadarkhani’s case has received international attention with the American Center for Law & Justice among those advocating for his release. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill two week ago demanding the pastor’s release. A few days later reports about his execution surfaced, but were deemed false.
Reports indicate that Nadarkhani is very much alive and still in need of your prayers and support. On Monday, at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Iran admitted that the pastor has been convicted of religious crimes. Those alleged crimes include building a church in his home without government permission, preaching to minors without parental consent and offending Islam reports the International Business Times. Originally, the pastor had been charged with security-related crimes, including rape and spying, but documents leaked from an Iranian court indicate that the charges against him are for apostasy.
New York City Churches — One may wonder why the huge national concern about churches that meet in public schools in New York City. After all, even cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago allow churches to meet in local schools, so why the concern about New York? Well, as any legal analyst will tell you, a precedent is set when a “rule of law established for the first time by a court for a particular type of case and thereafter referred to in deciding similar cases.” (ref. Black’s Law Dictionary, p. 1059 (5th ed. 1979)) If a court upholds New York City’s law, then other cities may follow. Yes, your budding church could find itself on the street much like more than 60 churches have in our nation’s largest city.
Our last report about the New York City churches is more than three weeks old. That report noted that a court’s decision giving the Bronx Household of Faith an additional 10 days to meet in a city school on Sundays had later excluded the other churches. However, the court later amended its ruling to include all affected churches and has stayed the Board of Education’s decision until a lawsuit against the city has been settled. In other words, those churches still desiring to meet in New York City public schools can do so for now. The Alliance Defense Fund’s legal representative in this case is Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence who noted that, “…the city’s view of the First Amendment is wrong, and we intend to continue to demonstrate that in court.”
As always, WordJourney urges believers to bring these matters to the Lord in prayer, remembering those who are afflicted as if you yourself are afflicted. People are not our enemies, rather spiritual forces are at work. Pray that those who handle legal matters on behalf of the Body of Christ are protected and receive God’s guidance as they represent the brethren. And remember those who oppose us so that God might turn their hearts away from darkness and to the light of salvation.
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