Getting a head start on my week-in-review feature today, as I prepare to leave for Nashville for the annual National Religious Broadcasters convention, we look back at a notable moment from the world of sports, good news concerning an Afghan convert to Christianity and his release from prison, as well as the President's decision to no longer defend the institution of marriage.
3 - Outspoken Christian wins Daytona 500
If you were one of a comparative handful of NASCAR fans who may have been following 20-year-old Trevor Bayne on Twitter the week leading up to the Daytona 500, you would have found a few messages related to his faith in God. Trevor, you see, is a devoted Christian who desires for his racing activity to provide a platform for him to share his relationship with Christ.
And, what an incredible opportunity that the driver, who had only committed to run part of a season with Wood Brothers Racing, was given on Sunday, as Trevor won the Daytona 500 in a thrilling finish, holding off more seasoned drivers such as Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart.
In this Baptist Press profile, you can see the commitment to Christ that Trevor Bayne desires to display. Trevor is one of a number of believers that permeate the NASCAR culture. Through Motor Racing Outreach, drivers and their teams are able to fellowship together and attend chapel services. Also, there is outreach to the fans, such as Alabama's Raceway Ministries, which "set up shop" at campgrounds surrounding the annual races at Talladega.
2 - Afghan convert released from prison
Even though some of the details might be sketchy and some of the reporting suspect, there is clear evidence that 46-year-old former Muslim Said Musa has been released from prison in Afghanistan. Musa is an amputee, a military veteran, and father of six children who was imprisoned on charges of apostasy, which means basically leaving Islam. He and others were shown in a worship service that was broadcast on television last May, and he was subsequently arrested. The penalty for apostasy in Afghanistan is death.
According to Compass Direct News, Musa had been writing letters about his plight, and the last one, dated February 13, said that authorities from the capital of Kabul had visited him and offered him asylum. He was reportedly released on February 21.
A number of Christian leaders had become involved in speaking out for Musa. In this Christian Post piece, you can read that high-profile leaders such as John Piper, Rick Warren, and David Platt had tweeted messages of support. Some called on the Obama administration to put pressure on the Kabul government.
Open Doors USA head Carl Moeller had some strong words for the U.S. Government, and reminded us that Afghanistan is third on its "World Watch List" for Christian persecution. He mentioned that another Afghan is currently imprisoned merely for sharing a New Testament.
When we consider the large number of Christians who are facing persecution these days, we recognize the huge need for prayer, as well as the importance of the United States taking the initiative to protect Christian believers.
1 - Obama administration, Justice Department say they'll no longer defend DOMA
Attorney General Eric Holder, on behalf of the Justice Department and the White House, has stated in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner that his department will no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which states that marriage is defined as one man for one woman. This is not completely unexpected, in that the defense of the Act by the Administration in recent court cases has been characterized as rather tepid.
CitizenLink has a report on this development. The Act, passed by Congress and signed by then-President Clinton in 1996, has been defended successfully in court as being constitutional, even though the Adminstration said it now believes that it is not. There are pending legal challenges to the Act.
Now, the defense of marriage in America falls to Congress. Perhaps lawmakers will pass a resolution in support of DOMA, and appoint strong counsel to vigorously defend the institution of marriages. The government has a compelling interest to defend the institution of marriage on the Federal level, because strong families and stable environments for children are foundational for our country. The sustenance of our population through procreation contributes to the government's responsibility to defend marriage. '
Interestingly enough, this is another instance where public officials, who are charged to defend the law, have chosen not to defend a law they don't like. This also happened in California, where the Governor and Attorney General refused to defend Proposition 8, the marriage amendment there. When public officials desert the law of the land and the will of the people, they have neglected their constitutional duty, and it's important that citizens pay attention to the behavior of their elected leaders.
Former Kansas AG facing scrutiny because of pro-life stand
"The Grace Card" opens this weekend