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Nov. 16, 2019: Planned Parenthood undercover videos; Kayne Sunday Service tickets; USCIRF commissioner resigns

Nov. 16, 2019: Planned Parenthood undercover videos; Kayne Sunday Service tickets; USCIRF commissioner resigns

Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019:

Here are the latest headlines, brought to you by The Christian Post.

— Jury: Daleiden, pro-life group owe Planned Parenthood $870K in damages for undercover videos

A California jury has found pro-life activist David Daleiden and his group the Center for Medical Progress liable for their undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of fetal body parts and ordered the pro-life activists to pay the abortion business $870,000 in punitive damages.

In 2015, the Center for Medical Progress released a series of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood abortionists discussing business with biotech companies about obtaining aborted fetal organs.

In a decision made Friday, the jury ruled against Daleiden and his co-defendants, in what the Center for Medical Progress called a “black eye” to the First Amendment. In a short statement posted to Twitter on Friday, the Center for Medical Progress the said that the decision was partly due to the actions of U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick.

— USCIRF commissioner resigns

Longtime religious freedom advocate Kristina Arriaga has resigned as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, citing concerns over the possibility of more bureaucratic control and what she says is the commission’s inability to live up to its full potential. 

Arriaga, who was appointed to the bipartisan congressionally-mandated commission by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in 2016 and served as the commission’s vice chair in 2017 and 2018, informed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of her decision to resign from the volunteer role this week. 

Her term was set to end in May 2020. 

On Thursday, Arriaga sent a note to fellow USCIRF commissioners, stating that “[t]he move towards more bureaucratic controls has undermined the independence of commissioners to the point I can no longer be an effective advocate for religious freedom.”

— Tickets to Kanye West’s ‘Sunday Service’ at Joel Osteen’s church being scalped for hundreds of dollars

Free tickets to rapper Kanye West’s Jesus Is King “Sunday Service” concert at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, are being scalped online for hundreds of dollars ahead of the touted event expected to draw “huge crowds” in what is to be the biggest installment of the event yet.

A spokesperson from Lakewood Church told The Christian Post on Friday that the tickets are free and won't be available to the general public until 10 a.m. Saturday through Ticketmaster.  "Anything other than Ticketmaster would be fraudulent," the spokesperson added. Half of the tickets are being made accessible to church members through a special pre-offer that requires a code.

West is expected to share his conversion testimony at the non-ticketed 11 a.m. service at Lakewood Church on Sunday where he will chat with Osteen before the megachurch pastor’s regularly scheduled sermon. The concert is expected to begin at 7 p.m.

— Face and fingerprint scanning installed in churches as China increases surveillance

Hi-tech surveillance devices including face and fingerprint scanning equipment are now being installed in churches throughout China. According to a report from Bitter Winter, a facial recognition system that was placed in a government-controlled church, called the Three-Self Church, in Urumqi — the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region — is now being introduced elsewhere in China.

State surveillance of churches is not new in China. What is called the Sharp Eyes Project has long had a presence in state-run churches, with cameras placed even in washrooms of certain places of worship to ensure comprehensive monitoring.

Danny Gokey continues concert after suffering burns on Hope Encounter Tour

Award-winning Christian singer Danny Gokey suffered second and third degree burns to his feet last weekend ahead of a performance for his Hope Encounter Tour. The "American Idol" alum was injured when a wardrobe steamer hot water reservoir tipped over and scalded his feet.

Gokey continued his concert in Richmond, Virginia, by performing his set while sitting on a chair. Concert promoter Mike Alley praised on the singer for performing at the concert despite his injuries.  Gokey is wrapping up the remaining tour dates on his Hope Encounter Tour which ends on Nov. 17.

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