LISTEN: Sudanese Pastor Awaiting Death Sentence Decision as Global Petition Demands His Release; Washington National Cathedral Events to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy (BCNN1, 1/14/2017)

This is the Black Christian News Network Podcast for Saturday, January 14, 2017.

1. According to the Christian Post, a Christian pastor in Sudan is less than two weeks away from a court decision that could end up sentencing him to death, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, whose petition to save the pastor’s life has been signed by over 112,000 people. Pastor Hassan Abduraheem has been charged along with two other men by the Sudanese government with espionage and agitating hatred between classes, and is being held in al-Huda Prison in Omdurman. Abduraheem’s attorneys have reportedly finished laying out his defense, and a decision by a judge is expected on Jan. 23. The ACLJ has stepped up its campaign to free the pastor by sending a letter to Sudan’s Minister of Justice, Awad Al-Hass

2. According to the Christian Post, the sixth largest cathedral in the world and the second largest in the United States will host two events during the weekend of the federal holiday set aside to honor the late civil rights leader. The first event will take place Sunday afternoon. Titled “Strength to Love: An Afternoon Retreat for Contemplatives and Activists,” the event will take place at the cathedral’s Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage. On MLK Day itself, the National Cathedral will observe a worship celebration called “We Shall Not be Moved: Sanctuary, Witness and Covenant.”

3. According to Reuters, U.S. civil rights activists vowed on Saturday to defend hard-fought gains in voting rights and criminal justice during the presidency of Donald Trump, kicking off a week of protests ahead of the Republican’s inauguration. About 2,000 mostly black protesters ignored steady rain to march and rally near Washington’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, as speakers urged them to fight for minority rights and President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, which Trump has vowed to dismantle. The Rev. Al Sharpton, the rally’s organizer, said Democrats in Congress needed to be sent a simple message: “Get some backbone.”

4. According to the New York Times, a blistering report by the Justice Department described far-reaching failures throughout the Chicago Police Department, saying excessive force was rampant, rarely challenged and chiefly aimed at African-Americans and Latinos. The report, unveiled on Friday after a 13-month investigation, forced a public reckoning for a police department with a legacy of corruption and abuse. It came as the department grapples with skyrocketing violence in Chicago, where murders are at a 20-year high, and a deep lack of trust among the city’s residents.

5. According to Reuters, the city of Baltimore will enact a series of police reforms including changes in how officers use force and transport prisoners under an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department filed in federal court on Thursday. The agreement comes almost two years after the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, of injuries sustained while in police custody sparked a day of rioting and arson in the majority-black city. It also led to an investigation that found the city’s police routinely violated residents’ civil rights. Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the deal, which is subject to a judge’s approval, would be binding even after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20.

6 . According to the Hill, President-elect Donald Trump is expected to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, ABC News reported Saturday citing transition sources. Trump’s visit to the museum comes amid backlash from Democrats and some Republicans over Trump claiming in tweets Saturday that Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was “all talk” and “no action.” Lewis said in an interview released Friday that he didn’t think Trump was a “legitimate president,” pointing to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

7. According to the Wrap, Jennifer Holliday has canceled her appearance at Donald Trump’s inauguration event next week, calling her decision to perform a “lapse of judgement.” In an open letter, provided exclusively to TheWrap, the “Dreamgirls” star apologized to the LGBT community, saying she was “uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans.” The Tony and Grammy winner came under fire from some of her fans on Friday after it was announced that she was set to perform at a concert as part of Trump’s inauguration festivities.