Welcome to G3 Weekly—a summary of this week’s top news stories on Christianity and the public square.
This week, controversy ensued as various federal courts issued rulings on the FDA approval of the abortion pill. Minneapolis will permit mosques to broadcast Islamic prayers across the city. Meanwhile, a prominent Baptist minister in Myanmar was sentenced to six years in prison.
Courts Battle over FDA Approval of Abortion Pill
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas moved to pause the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, one of the substances used in chemical abortions, provoking legal controversy and rebukes from the Biden administration.
Kacsmaryk ruled last week that the FDA had issued a “predetermined conclusion in search of non-data” regarding the substance’s approval. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans later issued a partial reversal of the ruling from Kacsmaryk while affirming that mifepristone cannot be mailed and can only be used through the seventh week of pregnancy.
Attorney General Merrick Garland disapproved of the rulings from both Kacsmaryk and the Fifth Circuit. He said in a statement that the Biden administration would seek “emergency relief from the Supreme Court to defend the FDA’s scientific judgment and protect Americans’ access to safe and effective reproductive care.”
Mifepristone blocks a pregnancy hormone called progesterone and thereby results in the death of preborn babies; mothers later consume a second substance called misoprostol to induce a delivery of the murdered child. Even after many conservative-leaning states introduced new regulations on abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, none have enacted laws that would prosecute abortion as murder.
Minneapolis Permits Daily Islamic Prayers across the City
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The City Council of Minneapolis, Minnesota, unanimously approved a resolution that will permit mosques to broadcast Islamic prayers five times each day.
Minneapolis, which previously allowed the broadcasting of Islamic prayers three times each day, amended noise ordinances such that religious calls to worship can be broadcasted year round as late as 11:00pm and as early as 3:30am. The prayers, referred to as the Adhan, are famously transmitted from loudspeakers throughout Islamic portions of the Middle East. The city of Minneapolis has a substantial Somali population.
“This is a historic victory for religious freedom and pluralism for our entire nation,” Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said in a statement. “We thank the members of the Minneapolis City Council for setting this great example, and we urge other cities to follow it.”
Myanmar Pastor Sentenced to Six Years in Prison
“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:3).
Hkalam Samson, a pastor in Myanmar and the former President of the Kachin Baptist Convention, was sentenced to six years in prison for charges related to his faith.
Samson was arrested at the end of last year as he was traveling to Thailand for medical treatment, according to a report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. He was sentenced for charges such as terrorism and unlawful association.
“This sentence is an outrageous travesty of justice. Reverend Dr Samson is a completely non-violent Christian pastor and a brave and tireless advocate of justice, human rights and peace,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide Senior East Asia Analyst Benedict Rogers said in a statement. “He has been jailed simply for courageously speaking out against the Myanmar military’s barbaric atrocities perpetrated against the people of Myanmar.”
Samson met with former President Donald Trump four years ago and denounced the oppressive rule of the military in Myanmar, which has terrorized civilians in the two years since the regime wrested control of the southeast Asian nation. The Kachin Baptist Convention was founded by converts of the missionaries who followed in the wake of Adoniram Judson, a Baptist minister from the United States who suffered multiple imprisonments and other hardships as he advanced the gospel among the predominantly Theravada Buddhist population.