Weekly Briefing

Weekly briefing: Christians decry Ahmaud Arbery killing, contraceptive mandate hearing, prayer campaigns

Little Sisters of the Poor
Nuns rally before Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, March 23, 2016. |

We've compiled the top stories of the week. Here's what you need to know:

Christians condemn Ahmaud Arbery killing: ‘We can’t ignore this’

Many Christians joined the outcry against the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, by a white former police officer and his son in February. A video of the shooting was posted this week.

Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, were arrested Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault.

“Under any Christian vision of justice, there is no situation in which the mob murder of a person can be morally right, nor grounds for a person to be chased down and shot by private citizens.” — Russell Moore, president of ERLC

Supreme Court hears arguments on contraceptives mandate exemption

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the phone Wednesday regarding the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptives mandate and the Trump administration’s rule expanding religious and moral exemptions to groups opposed to the mandate.

As some reports said the justices seemed divided, Becket Law’s Diana Verm, which helped represent the Little Sisters of the Poor, is optimistic the court will rule in their favor.

“No one had an argument, none of the justices and none of the counsels for Pennsylvania had a good argument for why that exemption shouldn’t apply to the Little Sisters.” — Diana Verm

Christians in US, world engage in prayer campaigns

Tens of thousands of people joined the National Day of Prayer online this week, as many others kicked off other prayer campaigns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Perhaps in our day, God is using the COVID-19 pandemic in the world as a precursor, as a forerunner for a great revival that is coming to the Earth.” — William Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University

Other prayer campaigns include Pastor Robert Jeffress’ 4:01 Challenge, where Christians are urged to pray for 40 days for an end to the pandemic; the “War Room” prayer event on Friday; and Go2020, a global 30-day prayer and fasting initiative in which Christians are encouraged to share the Gospel every day throughout May.

Some churches reopen with caution

Some churches, including the popular Fellowship Church in Texas, reopened this past weekend and allowed a limited number of attendees.

Worshipers had to wear masks and reserve their seats ahead of time before attending Fellowship. Champion Church in Yuma, Arizona, also resumed in-person services. Life.Church, one of the nation’s largest churches, will be reopening its campuses this weekend with reduced capacity.

Most pastors plan to resume in-person services in June or later, according to a Barna survey.

Meanwhile, some continue to fight state bans on church gatherings. Nearly 200 pastors in Virginia have petitioned their governor to allow for weekly gatherings. In California, a federal judge ruled against Cross Culture Christian Center in its fight to be allowed to meet for services.

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