Pastor Saeed Abedini’s wife stuns supporters by announcing she’s halting her public advocacy for her husband’s release, citing emotional distress over a troubled marriage. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, a court acquits two Muslim men who raped Christian teenagers. And, in the U.S., an electronic billboard in Times Square announces that Planned Parenthood betrays the women it purports to help. Plus, a group of researchers say the idea that religion is declining in America is just a myth propagated by the media. These stories and more in this week’s Faith News in Focus!
Pastor Saeed Abedini’s Wife Halts Public Advocay for His Release
In surprising emails to supporters, Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, said that she will stop publicly advocating for his release from Iranian captivity. Citing marriage troubles including “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse,” Naghmeh Abedini said she has “decided to take a break from everything and seek the Lord on how to move forward.” She asks for Saeed’s supporters to continue to pray for his release and healing: “I wanted to be real and ask you to pray for real things (I have opened myself up to you), but without judgment and without losing your love for your brother Saeed who is fighting for his life in the dark prison. This is what the Lord has been showing me, to love unconditionally the way He loves us. To see the sin, but love the sinner and to intercede for freedom from the sin. And not to give up. Not to ever give up on your loved one. To persevere and to endure.”
Student Group Fights Abortion with Billboard in Times Square
Students for Life of America, a pro-life student group, is making their voice heard in a big way. They put up a billboard in Times Square in New York City with a message that Planned Parenthood betrays women. The 10-second electronic ad plays once an hour. “The atrocities that Planned Parenthood has committed deserve the widest stage possible and we are bringing the message that they betray women to one of the biggest in the world: Times Square,” SFLA president Kristan Hawkins told LifeNews.
Watch the ad
Researchers Say Religion NOT on Decline in US
Scholars with the Institute for Religion Studies at Baylor University told an audience at the National Press Club this week that religion’s decline in America is a myth propagated by the media. They gave examples of the media’s misinterpretation of recent studies that supposedly showed the growth of irreligion. “It turns out the group of people who are self-professed atheists are significant but holding steady at a really low percentage. I think that if it was the case that there was a massive surge of atheism, I think that a lot of the media has decided that is not only the most click-worthy type of story, but it would be a historic change of unprecedented significance if it was true,” said Baylor professor Thomas Kidd.
Pakistani Muslims who Raped Christian Teenagers Acquitted
Two Muslim men who gang-raped two Christian teenagers in Pakistan last year have been acquitted after Islamists pressed a key witness not to testify and the prosecutor failed to show up in court. The teenage girls were abducted from a field in 2014, beaten, and raped.
Major Hollywood Actor: “Put God first.”
Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington spoke at the Church of God in Christ Charities Banquet in St. Louis, Missouri this week and had a message that isn’t heard much in Hollywood: “There’s never been a time where God didn’t direct, protect, and correct me,” Washington said. “There may have been times where I was less than faithful to him, but he had faith in me.” Washington also drew attention when he spoke at Dillard University’s spring commencement ceremony and told students to “put God first.”
School District Bans Drawing of All Religious Figures
An Acton, California school district has banned students from drawing religious figures after a parent complained about an assignment that required students to draw pictures of various words pertaining to the Muslim faith, including Muhammad. (Images of Muhammad are forbidden by Islam.)