This week's edition of The 3, featuring three stories of relevance to the Christian community, includes some good news for a missionary who had been held in prison in Sudan. Also, the Oregon bakers who had been heavily fined by a government agency finally had a court hearing this past week. Plus, a matter of concern for Christian parents involves the presence of gay subject material in an upcoming Disney film.
3 - Missionary freed from prison in Sudan
A missionary to Sudan from the Czech Republic, Petr Jasek, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for, according to the website, Faithwire.com, allegedly "spying," as well as inciting "hatred" in the predominantly Muslim country.
The story says that Christian Today reported that "Jasek was arrested after he was stopped in the Sudanese airport in 2015. At the time, he was carrying basic electronics like a computer, cell phone and video camera."
Now, Faithwire reports that:
...the Sudanese foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour and Czech foreign diplomat Lubomir Zaoralek announced the pardon of Jasek due to “good relations between Sudan and the Czech Republic” in a joint press conference.
However the deal to free the Christian activist wasn’t simple or easy.
After Jasek’s sentence, the Czech government cut ties with the African nation and the only way the two began negotiating over the 53-year-old man’s freedom was through Egypt, a north African nation that acted as a peace broker.A CitizenGO petition had yielded some 400,000 signatures.
There were two other Sudanese men convicted along with Jasek, but they were not released and reportedly are expected to serve out 12-year prison sentences.
2 - Oregon bakers (finally) have their day in court
After several years of sparring with a state regulatory agency, the bakers who declined to provide a cake for a gay marriage celebration finally had their day in court. Aaron and Melissa Klein went before a three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals this week, according to First Liberty. Its website reported:
During the oral arguments, the Kleins’ attorneys argued that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) violated the Kleins’ constitutional rights to religious freedom, free speech, and due process.
“The government should never force someone to violate their conscience or their beliefs,” Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty Institute, says. “In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We hope the court will uphold the Kleins’ rights to free speech and religious liberty.”The website reports that at a press conference following the hearing, Melissa said this:
...I have a strong faith in God, whom I love with all my heart. My whole life is dedicated to living for Him, in the best way that I know how. America is a place where the government can’t force you to violate your religious beliefs or tell you what to believe, but we feel like that is exactly what happened to us. We lost everything we loved and worked so hard to build...1 - Disney movie announcement sparks concern among Christians
The scheduled release of Disney's live-action movie, Beauty and the Beast, is less than two weeks away, but moviegoers expecting a family-friendly theatrical experience may be disappointed with news that has had awareness on Christian media over the last few days.
The Christian Headlines website has the story about the comments of the film's director, Bill Condon, quoted in the Los Angeles Times. He discusses the character of LeFou, to be played by Josh Gad. Condon stated: "LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston." He continued: "He’s confused about what he wants," adding, "It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie."
"Really subtle and delicious?" An "exclusively gay moment?" This certainly should cause concern among Christian parents, according to Franklin Graham, who said on Facebook:
Disney has aired a cartoon with same-sex couples kissing. It has also been announced that their new movie "Beauty and the Beast" will feature a gay character in an attempt to normalize this lifestyle. They’re trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children—watch out! Disney has the right to make their cartoons, it’s a free country. But as Christians we also have the right not to support their company. I hope Christians everywhere will say no to Disney. I met Walt Disney when I was a young boy—he was very gracious to me, my father Billy Graham, and my younger brother when we visited. He would be shocked at what has happened to the company that he started.The Christian Headlines story points out that already, a drive-in theater in Henegar, Alabama has cancelled the film, according to Entertainment Weekly.