Prayer News | Where Christians Pray Through the News

Prayer List: Stampede Kills

A graduation celebration turned into a nightmare when a fight began and a tear gas canister exploded. 500 people were in the Venezuelan club in Caracas and 17 died during the ensuing stampede to escape. The Associated Press reports, “Family members wept and embraced one another after identifying the remains of their loved ones at a nearby hospital.”

Prayer List

* Pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort the families and friends of the deceased.
* Pray for physical healing for the five people injured in the incident.
* Pray for the teenagers detained for allegedly using tear gas in the club to repent of their sins.
* Pray for Christians to provide emotional support for the people impacted by the explosion and stampede.

Unreached People of the Day

Monday: Mwani in Mozambique
Tuesday: Bulang in China

Operation World Prayer Focus

Tuesday: Iceland
Wednesday: India: Andhra Pradesh

Birthday Prayer Lists

Have you prayed for the salvation of all your friends? Why not turn your Facebook friend list into a prayer list? It shouldn't take long to pray for each friend on their birthday.

Some Christians also pray for entertainers, politicians and media personalities on their birthday.

Religious News Websites

Baptist Press

  • ADF, state conventions partner on religious liberty
    Partnership with the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom was a recurring theme at Baptist state convention annual meetings this fall.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 7:40pm -
  • EDITORIAL: ¿Quién es la Luz de este mundo?
    "Jesús les habló otra vez, diciendo: 'Yo soy la Luz del mundo; el que Me sigue no andará en tinieblas, sino que tendrá la Luz de la vida'" (Juan 8:12 NBLH).
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 7:23pm -
  • 'No flying joke': Pastor's object lesson goes viral
    Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Bartholomew Orr's object lesson, flying to the pulpit on a zip line to signify Jesus' return, caused a viral sensation on social media and major network talk shows.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 7:20pm -
  • Lilly receives special Christmas gift from Chitwoods
    Sure, 6-year-old Lilly has the typical wish list for Christmas, including Barbie dolls and a dollhouse. But it was something much more meaningful that she longed for most: a family of her own. And Paul and Michelle Chitwood were more than willing to provide that for her.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 6:49pm -
  • Who was the guy at the piano during the Bush funeral?
    As the world wondered who was at a piano performing the song "Friends" during President George H.W. Bush's funeral, folks in Kenova, W.Va., well remember their boy who grew in First Baptist Church.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 3:31pm -

Berean Research

  • Holding on.
    Discernment Ministry. What do you think of when you hear or read that term? Does your nose wrinkle a little? Does your upper lip curl in disgust? A lot of good, solid, caring, sheep-loving discerning writers are being told not to quit their day jobs due to the actions of a few. Whether those actions […]The post Holding on. appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 62 days ago 9 Oct 18, 2:21am -
  • Why we “Mark and Avoid”
    There is a growing trend to dismiss the Bible in a world that says, “you can’t believe a book that’s a couple thousand years old,” as Rob Bell has done. Bell recently made these statements and said that the Church is very close to embracing gay marriage. If you haven’t boldly marked false teachers, people […]The post Why we “Mark and Avoid” appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 66 days ago 5 Oct 18, 7:37pm -
  • Liberation-Not For Everybody
    Youth Testify, a new program launched by Advocates for Youth and the National Network of Abortion Funds is “helping young people advocate for their reproductive rights and reframe the narrative around abortion.” Reframe the narrative? According to Peter Jones, re-framing means that “not a word of warning will be given to young women about the death knell that will forever […]The post Liberation-Not For Everybody appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 69 days ago 2 Oct 18, 4:11pm -
  • “Gay Christian” Event Planned with Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church
    Mark Dever is the senior pastor of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., author, speaker and the president of 9Marks, a ministry that encourages pastors to go to the Bible for instruction on how to lead their churches. Even though Dever’s doctrinal teaching is said to be stellar, this popular pastor is among those […]The post “Gay Christian” Event Planned with Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 73 days ago 28 Sep 18, 3:08pm -
  • Andy Stanley: “Most Former Christians Still Have a Crush on Jesus”
    Megachurch leader Andy Stanley has made some interesting statements over the past few years. Most notably are his statements distancing himself from the authority of Scripture. Easy to mark and avoid a teacher like this, right? Actually, not so easy. Stanley’s many marketable brands include curricula for children, teens, adults, couples…and many well-meaning church staff […]The post Andy Stanley: “Most Former Christians Still Have a Crush on Jesus” appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 75 days ago 26 Sep 18, 10:36am -

Christian Post

Christianity Today

  • I Was a Comedian First and an Atheist Second
    Until God showed me that there’s more to life than making people laugh.For the longest time, comedy was my religion. As a stand-up comedian, I performed in bars, theaters, and restaurants that functioned, essentially, as my churches. If you asked about my theological perspective, I would have replied that I was a comedian first and an atheist second. For me, a Christian life and a comedian’s life were polar opposites. I was only interested in getting to the next show and making people laugh.I grew up in a Methodist church, begrudgingly participating in the yearly Christmas pageant. As one of the three wise men, my costume consisted of an oversized men’s bathrobe that dragged behind my feet like a wedding veil made of shag carpeting. We had no frankincense, so I carried a bottle of cologne in a decorative glass shaped like a pirate ship. The scent of Old Spice would hover around me as I progressed past the stained-glass windows toward the manger scene by the altar.Nothing specific happened to scar my view of religion. I simply drifted away. In my eyes, I was a good person, and that was all that mattered. Every now and then, I would try attending church or reading the Bible, but the commitment was always short-lived. Whenever I got to Matthew 10:37 (“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”), I would close the book and walk away. The truth is, I was uneasy with the concept of making God the most important thing in my life—more important than your spouse, your child, your dog, or your Xbox. That type of thinking was anathema to me. I was quite clear on my goal in life: I wanted to be a comedian.Nothing to SayI attended the (now-closed) Second City Training Center in Cleveland, where I studied improv theater and comedic writing. After ...Continue reading...
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  • What We Long for the Church to Do about Sexual Violence
    Four practical steps churches can take to eliminate sexual violence.In our first article we shared lessons taken from our work as mental health professionals with survivors of sexual violence. We continue the conversation here by offering further considerations for churches wishing to respond to sexual violence in an informed manner. We do not consider our assertions and recommendations to be exhaustive, but offer them as pieces of an important, broader conversation.1. Recognize that sexual violence is in the sanctuary. Given the prevalence rates of various forms of sexual violence, churches must continue coming to terms with the reality that members in their congregations have experienced sexual violence.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report sexual violence involving physical contact at the astounding frequencies of one in three women and one in six men (2018). Child sexual abuse is underreported, but estimated at one in five girls and one in 20 boys (The National Center for Victims of Crime, 2012).Over 7,000 claims of sexual abuse by church staff, congregation members, volunteers, or the clergy were made to just three insurance companies over a 20-year period (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2007). Recently, a study of over 300 alleged child sexual abuse cases in protestant Christian congregations found the overwhelming majority took place on church grounds, or at the offender’s home, most frequently carried out by Caucasian, male clergy or youth pastors (Denney, Kerley, & Gross, 2018).Beyond the large number of individuals directly affected by sexual violence, many more lives are impacted indirectly through relationships with family, friends, acquaintances, or in connection to the larger community. Without an acceptance of the scope of this problem, along with the ...Continue reading...
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  • John Chau, Missions, and Spreading Disease: What Do We Really Know?
    An interview with experts. Ed: What is the danger when someone from outside comes into contact with an uncontacted tribe like John Chau did with the Sentinelese?Dr. Kristen Page: Any time you have a naïve population coming into contact with "outsiders" for the first time, you have a risk of disease transmission. There are numerous examples of diseases being moved around by a host (person) who shows no symptoms.One of the more publicized recent examples is the import of Cholera to Haiti by UN aid workers responding to the earthquake. In U.S. history, the importation by colonists of smallpox, influenza, measles, and tuberculosis caused significant loss of life for indigenous peoples.I realize that the missionary vaccinated himself and quarantined himself, but effective vaccines for parasites do not really exist. Vaccines are in development for malaria, leishmaniasis, and hookworm, but Mr. Chau would not have had access to them as they are only in the testing stage of development. Most vaccines he would have received would be for viruses. I'm not sure how long he was quarantined, but that wouldn't necessarily help prevent the transmission of a bacterium or a parasite that is patent (shedding infective stages), but not causing symptoms, because he would not have been treated for them.Dr. Vanya Koo: Lack of immunity is always a risk for disease transmission. The Conquistadors in South and North America are good examples where the native naïve populations were decimated – some unintentionally, but some on purpose – by the diseases that missionaries brought with them.Based on my searches, there are no 'modern' history records of a missionary transmitting an infectious disease to a previously-unreached population. ...Continue reading...
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  • Interview: How to Do Kids’ Discipleship in the Woods
    Creation care does more than conservation. It cultivates faith formation, says A Rocha.In the world of high-energy, high-entertainment Vacation Bible Schools and summer kids camps, “Wild Wonder” stands out as an un-flashy alternative, incorporating quiet activities like bird watching and nature observation alongside music and games. Developed by the Christian conservation organization A Rocha USA, Wild Wonder’s new program explores environmental stewardship and spiritual formation in the context of the outdoors.“The main vision behind the camp is that we want kids to know they are beloved creations,” says A Rocha’s curriculum manager Flo Oakes. “We call it creation care camp, but we are God’s creations and we want kids to know that God loves us each deeply.”CT spoke with Oakes to learn more about Wild Wonder’s unique approach to discipleship in the woods.Your curriculum delves deep into theology with kids, from themes of God as the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer to the idea of the new heavens and the new earth. What drives this theological focus?Among many Christians, there is a lingering idea that goes all the way back to the early heresy of Gnosticism. It’s the idea that earthly things—matter, stuff, our bodies, anything physical—are inferior and that the only thing to hope for is a heavenly place we’ll get to someday. I think some Christians have a hard time with environmental conservation because they’ve been taught to ask, “Well, why does it even matter? It’s just the earth.”To be clear, our motive in creating this camp wasn’t “we’re going to make a green, environmental VBS where we just teach kids how to take care of the earth.” There’s no deeper meaning in that—essentially, ...Continue reading...
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  • The Strange Journey of Christian Rock and Roll
    Randall Stephens’s history pays attention to political and cultural flash points—without losing focus on the music itself.Every few years, it seems, what some call the “mainstream media” rediscover Christian rock. Sometimes it’s treated with reverence and respect, as in John Jeremiah Sullivan’s now-classic 2004 account of tagging along at a Christian music festival for GQ. More often, it’s treated like a sociological oddity: a strange footnote in the history of American pop, a foreign culture to be explained with an anthropologist’s rigorous eye. Just this September, The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh wrote a mini-history of Christian music (“The Unlikely Endurance of Christian Rock”) that took the genre seriously, but still contained whiffs of the incredulous stance preferred by many music writers: Can you believe that band you like—take your pick from among U2, Bob Dylan. Paramore, Evanescence, Switchfoot, Sixpence None the Richer, The Killers, and the list goes on—might actually be Christian?What Sanneh’s piece got right, thankfully, was its attention to just how common Christian pop music is today—how central it is, in sometimes unrecognized ways, to American popular culture. (Though when he says this would have been hard to imagine in 1969, I’m not so sure; “Spirit in the Sky” was a hit single that year, and the previous year saw the release of perhaps the most overtly religious rock record of all time, The Electric Prunes’s Mass in F Minor.)Indeed, Christian rock has had a strange and circuitous journey back to the center of American culture. Randall J. Stephens’s The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock ‘n’ Roll describes this sometimes paradoxical path. Stephens traces the roots of ...Continue reading...
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Forum 18 News Service

  • KAZAKHSTAN: Second long jailing for online Islamic talks
    A court jailed 28-year-old father of one Dadash Mazhenov for over seven years for posting Islamic talks online, the second jailing by the same court. The secret police claimed the talks promoted terrorism, which both men reject. The judge sought to have Mazhenov's lawyer punished for "correctly defending the interests of his client".
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  • UZBEKISTAN: "Illegal Christian Wahhabi activity"
    Police raided Protestants enjoying a meal, searching the home without a warrant, confiscating a New Testament. Officials tried to pressure one guest to accuse the host and the pastor of holding "unauthorised religious meetings", threatening to take her two children and ordering her mother-in-law to beat her.
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  • UZBEKISTAN: Military raids Baptists, Church ordered closed
    For the first time Uzbekistan's military has raided Tashkent Baptists meeting for worship. Asked why the military were involved, officials said "it is a special operation". Police threatened Baptists they "will come every Sunday and disrupt the Church service every time until we give up and stop our activity".
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  • CRIMEA: Up to 10 years' jail for Muslims, Jehovah's Witness?
    In "extremism" criminal cases opened by Russia's FSB in occupied Crimea, four Muslims face imminent trial, while Jehovah's Witness Sergei Filatov is under investigation. They face up to 10 years' jail. The Muslims "simply gathered in the local mosque to discuss religious questions", a lawyer stated. "We simply ask the authorities to respect our rights to meet together and read the Bible," Filatov told Forum 18.
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  • UZBEKISTAN: Raids, large fines, torturers and thieves unpunished
    After a 19 November raid, Protestants are threatened with prosecution for having legally-bought religious literature. Officials who in September tortured Protestants and thieves who stole property from them remain unpunished. And 16 male police officers together "humiliated and pressured" a 19-year-old female Jehovah's Witness.
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Get Religion

  • newTiffany Rivers is expecting child No. 9: Oh yeah, she is married to that NFL quarterback
    It’s Sunday, which means the National Football League is all over the place on television.I have a request to make of GetReligion readers who plan to watch the Cincinnati Bengals play the Los Angeles Chargers this afternoon. Please be on the alert for displays of fecundopobia during the pregame show for this game, or during the contest itself.What, you ask, is “fecundopobia”?That term was created a number of years ago by M.Z. “GetReligionista emerita” Hemingway. Here is the overture for a post at The Federalist in which she explains what’s up, starting with the headline: “Fecundophobia: The Growing Fear Of Children And Fertile Women.” Last week Deadspin ran six sentences and a picture under the headline “ Philip Rivers Is An Intense Weirdo.” The final two sentences about the San Diego Charger quarterback were blunt: “And he’s also about to have his seventh kid. There are going to be eight people with Rivers DNA running around this world.” Ah yes. How “intensely weird” it is for an NFL player to be having his seventh kid. Except that it isn’t weird at all for an NFL player to have his seventh kid. It’s only weird for an NFL player to have seven kids with his one wife. Take former Charger and current New York Jet Antonio Cromartie. He’s fathered at least 12 children with eight different women. In fact, when the Jets picked the cornerback up from the Chargers, they provided him with a $500,000 advance so he could make outstanding child support payments. (You can watch him struggle to name some of his children here .)Well, things have gotten even WORSE since then — which is why I want people to watch the Charger game today and take some notes.You see, the Rivers team has been busy — some more. In fact, the family is joyfully expecting child No. 9 (and that isn’t a jersey number).Here is the top of a short ESPN item about this announcement. Let’s play “spot the flash of strangeness” in this news copy.
    - 18 hours ago 9 Dec 18, 7:00pm -
  • Seeking a Hanukkah miracle: Why can't the Gray Lady 'get' the Festival of Lights?
    Now here is a headline that a GetReligion scribe has to pass along, pronto: “Why can’t the New York Times get Hanukkah right?”What we’re talking about is a Religion News Service commentary by Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin. Consider this a kind of early weekend think piece, since it’s talking about op-ed page work.However, religion-beat professionals will certainly want to read (and maybe file way) this to get a refresher on some history and facts about the eight-day “Festival of Lights,” which is a relatively minor Jewish holiday that punches way above its weight class for reasons that are quite ironic, to say the least.The opening is very clever and slightly snarky at the same time. Every few years, the New York Times runs a contest: “Best Essay About Hanukkah By An Ambivalent Jew.” That is the only explanation for this past week’s crop of New York Times op-ed pieces about Hanukkah. “The Gray Lady” is showing signs of advanced Jewish arteriosclerosis. Take yesterday’s article, “That’s One Alternative Santa.” The author, a comedy writer, begins with the traditional disavowal of any substantive Jewish connections or affiliations. In theological terms, there is little love lost between me and Judaism. But culturally — with my unwavering devotion to [Howard] Stern on the radio, [Philip] Roth on the page, [Bob] Dylan on the stereo and kugel in the oven — I am a Hasid. This self-identification as a Rhett Butler Jew — “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” — points him in the direction of embracing the “traditional” Hanukkah symbol — Hanukkah Harry — a fictional character on Saturday Night Live.You get the idea. Somehow, I had missed “Hanukkah Harry.” Just lucky, I guess.Here’s the big question: What does all of this have to do with Judaism? That leads to a common debate topic this time of year: Are we talking Judaism the religion or Judaism the culture.The answer, of course, is “yes.”
    - 2 days ago 8 Dec 18, 7:33pm -
  • One more time: It's hard to leave faith out of news about an active churchman's funeral
    Try to imagine covering a worship service, in a cathedral, using modernized Anglican rites and a river of glorious sacred music and managing to produce news features that focus on (fill in the blank) instead of (fill in the blank).After this week, you can probably guess what this post is about.Yes, it’s another post about the mainstream news coverage of the state funeral — and too a lesser extent, the oh-so-Texas funeral in Houston — of former President George H.W. Bush. I’ve writing about that subject a lot this week (click here for a Bobby Ross, Jr., post with lots of links) and now you can listen to a “Crossroads” podcast on that subject, as well. Click here to tune that in.Frankly, there is still a lot to talk about, especially if you think that that these various rites were about Bush 41, rather than Donald Trump. However, I’d like to signal that this post will end with some good news, a story about the state funeral that actually mixed lots of religion into a report on this topic. Hold that thought.I’m at home in East Tennessee, these days, not in New York City. Thus, the newspaper in my driveway is the Knoxville News Sentinel, which is owned by the Gannett chain. Thus, I watched the whole funeral and then, the following day, read the following USA Today report in that local paper: “George H.W. Bush state funeral: 'America's last great soldier-statesman'.”I was, frankly, stunned that this long story was, basically, free of faith-based content. Did the USA Today watch the same rite I did? Here is a long, and very typical, passage: Ever the diplomat, the elder Bush managed in death to bring together the nation's four living ex-presidents, as well as President Donald Trump, the Republican he and his son George W. Bush refused to support two years ago. The gathering was at times awkward as Trump and his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, ignored each other. The most touching moment came when the younger Bush, delivering the last of four eulogies, choked up recalling "a great and noble man, and the best father a son or daughter could have." As the late president's three other sons and daughter looked on tearfully, the audience burst into applause for the only time during the ceremony.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 10:00pm -
  • South China Morning Post's religious potpourri includes Buddhist nuns and winter spirituality
    I love perusing through the South China Morning Post, surely the world’s most exotic mainline news outlet. A glance at their web site reveals everything from a journey through southern Tajikstan and a list of the best cities on the Silk Road to a piece on minimalist Japanese design and Chinese rice entrepreneurs.Put “religion” in its search bar and you’ll get wonderful literary morsels about a monastery in remote Sichuan where wine-colored-robed Buddhist nuns must spend 100 days outside in unheated huts during the winter; how the actress who inspired India’s MeToo movement felt “inspired by God” and how a second ethnic Chinese politician, who is also a Protestant, is facing blasphemy charges in Indonesia.The Indonesian piece is fascinating in how it openly wonders if religious freedom is at all possible in Muslim-majority Indonesia these days. And then there’s another piece on rampaging Hindu mobs angry with anyone who transports cows to slaughter houses or sells beef.I wanted to draw attention to the Buddhist nuns piece, by freelance photographer Douglas Hook, because it’s related to other news on how China oppresses its religious minorities. We’ve all heard about the criminal behavior the Chinese government is showing toward its Uiygar minority in western China. High in the mountains of Sichuan province, more than 10,000 Buddhist monks and nuns live in the austere surroundings of the Yarchen Gar monastery. Here, they follow the teachings of leader Asong Tulku, who counsels meditation and atonement for his disciples, and is revered as a living Buddha. Established in 1985 by Lama Achuk Rinpoche, Yarchen Gar – officially known as Yaqing Orgyan – is located in Baiyu county, in western Sichuan’s Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. At 4,000 metres above sea level the difficult-to-reach monastery boasts one of the largest congrega­tions of monks and nuns in the world. Because most of the devout here are women, Yarchen Gar has been called the “city of nuns”.One reason this monastery has been growing is because Communist cadres have been taking over a larger monastery to the north. Numbers at Yarchen Gar are rising once again due to evictions of Tibetans from a larger monastery, Larung Gar, to the north, where author­ities are acting to reduce the 40,000-strong congregation. Preparations are ongoing in Yarchen Gar to accommodate this influx of devotees. Roads are being built and sewers installed, and a massive temple is being erected in the eastern section, near the monks’ quarters.Read this piece to find out how the Chinese government is borrowing from its Uighur Muslim playbook in terms of weakening religious groups by forcing them into jails or by installing atheist leaders as administrators.Despite the use of smartphones along with other modern conveniences,
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 6:00pm -
  • Friday Five: Godbeat news, Bush 41 funeral, pope on gay priests, megachurch biz, pastor hero
    Enjoy the “Walking in Memphis” video.Speaking of Memphis, there’s good news on the Godbeat in Tennessee’s second-largest city: Katherine Burgess reports on Twitter that religion will now be a part of her coverage responsibilities at the Commercial Appeal.“Please send religion stories my way,” requests Burgess, who previously did a nice job reporting on religion for Kansas’ Wichita Eagle.In other Godbeat developments, I learned just recently that religion writer Manya Brachear Pashman has left the Chicago Tribune. Here’s an update from her: I officially left the Tribune at the end of October to follow my husband's career to New Jersey. I am in the process of figuring out the next chapter, while taking some time to tend to family and staying involved with RNA and RNF. I am optimistic that someone will replace me at the Tribune. But it might take a while, since they're going through a round of buyouts at the moment. But it's hard to imagine the Tribune without someone devoted to covering religion. In Chicago, that's the equivalent of leaving the city hall beat vacant.Meanwhile, let’s dive into the Friday Five.1. Religion story of the week: Wednesday’s Washington National Cathedral funeral for former President George H.W. Bush was full of faith, as GetReligion Editor Terry Mattingly highlighted in his roundup of news coverage at The New York Times and the wall-to-wall (and almost totally faith-free) spread at The Washington Post. And yes, Bush was an Episcopalian — that’s a noun — as tmatt noted in a separate post full of Episcopal jokes.Finally, be sure to check out tmatt’s obits commentary on “The mainstream faith of Bush 41: At what point did 'personal' become 'political'?” And there’s a podcast coming this weekend.Here’s a key passage from the funeral coverage material, offering a way for readers to study a news report and decide whether the editors thought the state funeral was a political event, only.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 2:00pm -

Mission Network News

  • Somalia sees bloodiest terror attack in country’s history (MNN) -- Over 300 people were killed in Somalia's bloodiest attackThe post Somalia sees bloodiest terror attack in country’s history appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 17 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • Emergency medical flight gets conjoined twin infants to life-saving surgery (MNN/MAF) -- Conjoined twins saved through ministry’s medical flightThe post Emergency medical flight gets conjoined twin infants to life-saving surgery appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 17 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • Christmas short-term mission opportunities!'l (MNN) -- Short-term mission trip opportunities this ChristmasThe post Christmas short-term mission opportunities! appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 17 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • The faces and stories behind World Food Day (MNN) -- On World Food Day, ministry spotlighting long-term solutionsThe post The faces and stories behind World Food Day appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 16 Oct 17, 4:00am -
  • State elections draw near in India, spark anti-Christian sentiment (MNN) -- Christians are being watched closely The post State elections draw near in India, spark anti-Christian sentiment appeared first on Mission Network News.
    - 16 Oct 17, 4:00am -

PE News

  • newCalled Out
    Janet Boynes shares a personal transforming message about sexuality.
    - 6 hours ago 10 Dec 18, 7:00am -
  • Anxiously Awaiting…or Awaiting with Anxiety?
    Christians aren’t exempt from experiencing depression this time of year.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 2:00pm -
  • Jungle Bible Translators Serve Europe's Refugee Camps
    After completing the translation of the New Testament into the Mesem language in Papua New Guinea, missionaries Neil and Kathy Vanaria are now getting translations of the Bible into the hands of refugees in Europe.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 2:00pm -
  • Revival for a New Generation
    Hippies saved during the Jesus movement see parallels in reaching today’s millennials.
    - 4 days ago 6 Dec 18, 2:00pm -
  • This Week in AG History -- Dec. 4, 1915
    Learning of the genocide of Christians in the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey), Maria Gerber spent decades in the land ministering as an "Angel of Mercy" to orphans and widows.
    - 4 days ago 6 Dec 18, 1:00pm -

Persecution Blog

  • Missionary Pilot Shares The Rest of the Auca Martyrs' Story
    Growing up the home of missionary parents in Ecuador, Gene Jordan has always known the story of five men—Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian—who gave their lives in the jungle to reach an isolated Indian...      Related StoriesVOM Radio: "When We Say Yes to God"Nate Saint Memorial School: End of an Era"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese Prison 
    - 24 Jul 17, 4:06pm -
  • After Arrest, "I Was Terrified"
    “Dr. Andrew” is working to share the gospel in the Middle East, but he hasn’t always had a heart to share Christ’s love with Muslims. Growing up in a nominal Christian family, Andrew was harassed by Muslims his whole life....      Related Stories"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese PrisonPetr Jasek: God Opened the Prison DoorMiddle East Christians "Standing in the Fire" 
    - 27 Jun 17, 10:07pm -
  • Being a True Vessel for God's Use
    “Brother Matthew” is a pastor and church planter in South Asia, working among Muslims to share the gospel. After threats against his life and an attack on his brother, he was encouraged by family members to leave his country. He...      Related StoriesVOM Radio in Central Asia"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese PrisonAfter Arrest, "I Was Terrified" 
    - 7 Jun 17, 4:56pm -
  • VOM Radio in Central Asia
    "Tanya" is a Christian worker in Central Asia, living and ministering in a country where she must always be cautious about what she says openly and who she says it around. Listen to hear how Christians in the former Soviet...      Related StoriesBeing a True Vessel for God's Use"Holy, Holy, Holy" in a Sudanese PrisonPetr Jasek: God Opened the Prison Door 
    - 9 May 17, 7:17pm -
  • Nate Saint Memorial School: End of an Era
    The end of an era comes next month. In August 1985, I clutched my mom’s hand and squeaked my rubber flip-flopped way down the gravel path from the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) “base” to the cinderblock Nate Saint Memorial school....      Related StoriesMissionary Pilot Shares The Rest of the Auca Martyrs' StoryVOM Radio: "When We Say Yes to God" 
    - 27 Apr 17, 8:14pm -

Religion News Service

  • Photos of the Week
    (RNS) — This week’s gallery includes funerary rites for George H.W. Bush, Hanukkah commemorations around the world, and more.The post Photos of the Week appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 2 days ago 8 Dec 18, 12:34pm -
  • Technology, tradition and the invention of Christmas in 19th-century New York
    (RNS) — Christmas became a legally recognized holiday in many states only in the mid-19th century. But by then New York City had already given birth to the traditions we know today. The post Technology, tradition and the invention of Christmas in 19th-century New York appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 9:41pm -
  • After 50 years, Baptist editor Bob Terry bids farewell
    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) — The longtime editor of The Alabama Baptist is stepping down after 50 years of covering controversies and church ministries as a Baptist journalist. The post After 50 years, Baptist editor Bob Terry bids farewell appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 7:15pm -
  • Women’s network builds bridges amid Nigeria’s violence, Muslim and Christian mistrust
    ABUJA, Kenya (RNS) — In Nigeria, an interfaith group of women is working to build peace between Muslims and Christians. The post Women’s network builds bridges amid Nigeria’s violence, Muslim and Christian mistrust appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 7:03pm -
  • ‘Revival!’ brings mostly black cast to movie depiction of Gospel of John
    WASHINGTON (RNS) — The movie, which features singers Chaka Khan as Herodias, Michelle Williams as Mary Magdalen and Mali Music as Jesus, is to be released Friday in 10 cities from New York to Los Angeles.The post ‘Revival!’ brings mostly black cast to movie depiction of Gospel of John appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 6:19pm -

Today's Creation Moment

    United Methodist News Service

    World Magazine

    • Trump: Kelly leaving White House at year’s end
      President Donald Trump told reporters Saturday that White House chief of staff John Kelly is stepping down from his post at the end of the year. The president did not name a successor for the retired Marine general but said an announcement would be coming in the next few days. Trump, who was departing the White House for the annual Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, called Kelly “a great guy.”Image: Category: White HouseArticle Title: Trump: Kelly leaving White House at year’s endKeywords: White HousePresidencyPoliticsAuthor: Mickey McLean
      - 2 days ago 8 Dec 18, 6:39pm -
    • Court filings link Trump to illegal payments, shed more light on Russian contacts
      UPDATE: In court filings released Friday, federal prosecutors in New York said Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, arranged hush money payments directed by Trump to two women alleging affairs with him, violating campaign finance laws. Prosecutors, however, did not accuse the president of a crime.Meanwhile, the sentencing memo from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office for Cohen, also released Friday, revealed that Russians were seeking through Cohen “political synergy” with Trump early in his campaign for president, appealing to his business and political interests. Mueller’s office gave Cohen, who is seeking no jail time, credit for his cooperation in the investigation, but prosecutors in New York aren’t offering much leniency, recommending a prison sentence of about 3½ years.In a separating court filing involving Paul Manafort, Mueller’s office said the former Trump campaign chairman “told multiple discernable lies” about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials, and that he continued to lie after a plea deal pledging his cooperation had been struck. Evidence included “electronic documents” that were recovered showing contact with multiple members of the administration.The president responded to the court filings Saturday morning, tweeting, “AFTER TWO YEARS AND MILLIONS OF PAGES OF DOCUMENTS (and a cost of over $30,000,000), NO COLLUSION!”OUR EARLIER REPORT (12/07/18, 12:56 p.m.): WASHINGTON—Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is expected to release new filings Friday related to President Donald Trump’s former associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. Prosecutors are expected to explain why they last week accused former Trump campaign chairman Manafort of lying to investigators in violation of his plea deal. Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering and pledged to cooperate with prosecutors to get a lighter sentence. In another filing, investigators will recommend punishment for Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, ahead of his final sentencing next week. The court memo filings by Mueller’s team will describe Cohen’s cooperation on multiple investigations. Cohen previously pleaded guilty to federal charges related to campaign finance violations and later sat for multiple interviews with investigators.In a Tuesday court filing, Mueller’s office recommended that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn receive little to no jail time because he cooperated with the investigation.The president took to Twitter to blast the special counsel’s probe Friday, saying Mueller has “big time conflicts of interest” and that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is “totally conflicted.” Trump also said his lawyers have drafted 87 pages so far in response to the investigation, adding that it couldn’t be completed until Mueller wraps up the probe. The president tweeted that his administration “will be doing a major Counter Report to the Mueller Report!”Image: Category: PoliticsArticle Title: Court filings link Trump to illegal payments, shed more light on Russian contactsKeywords: PoliticsFBI investigationWhite HouseFBICampaign 2016ElectionsRussiaAuthor: Harvest PrudeMickey McLean
      - 2 days ago 8 Dec 18, 4:04pm -
    • sk120918
      Image: Section: CartoonsDate to Publish: Saturday, December 8, 2018 - 08:23 to Monday, January 7, 2019 - 08:23
      - 2 days ago 8 Dec 18, 1:23pm -
    • Baby, it’s nuts outside
      Radio listeners in Cleveland accused WDOK of spoiling the Christmas season by deciding not to play the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The station said it received complaints that the tune glorified sexual aggression toward women, but critics said the station caved to political correctness.“It’s not a date rape song. … get over it … program director needs fired (sic) over this,” Facebook user Kevin Davis wrote on the station’s Facebook page. He joined a chorus of commenters who vowed never to listen to the station again, and he even suggested calling the station’s sponsors to request they stop supporting it.“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser for him and his wife, Lynn Garland, to perform at parties. Loesser later sold it to MGM, which used it in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter, where gained national popularity and earned an Oscar for best original song.The two characters in the song are known as “Wolf” and “Mouse.” The wolf, most often sung by a man, is trying to convince the mouse, a woman, to linger at his house longer than would have been decorous at the time. He gives her reasons not to go—mainly because it’s cold outside—and she argues that her father and the neighbors wouldn’t approve. Lyrics like “The answer is no / But baby, it’s cold outside” and “I really can’t stay / Get over that old out” appear disrespectful to the mouse on paper, but when sung in a playful lilt, they could be interpreted as merely flirtatious.“Now, I do realize that when the song was written in 1944, it was a different time,” WDOK’s Glenn Anderson wrote in a blog post explaining why the station pulled the song. “But now while reading it, it seems very manipulative and wrong. The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, but in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place.”“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has raised eyebrows before, but the #MeToo movement seems to have galvanized opposition to it. KOIT in San Francisco and KOSI in Denver also announced they were banning the song this year. But KOSI reversed its decision after an online poll with more than 15,000 respondents showed 95 percent of them wanted the tune back on the air. KOIT is conducting a similar poll and plans to announce the results Monday.The song even has support from some feminists who have an entirely different take on it. They say the woman’s part gives voice to the sexual repression of the period in which it was penned.“At the time period the song was written … ‘good girls,’ especially young, unmarried girls, did not spend the night at a man’s house unsupervised,” a writer for the feminist blog Persephone wrote in 2006. “The tension in the song comes from her own desire to stay and society’s expectations that she’ll go.So the song is an ode to either sexual harassment or sexual freedom, or something in between, but regardless, it involves a woman staying late at night at the home of a man to whom she is not married. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” might be a victim of political correctness run amok, but it’s not one that Bible-believing radio listeners should miss all that much. Associated Press/Photo by Matriana Eliano The impressionist painting by Camille Pissarro on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid in 2005 Art heritageThe great-grandson of a German Jew who gave a priceless painting to the Nazis in exchange for her safety during World War II took a Spanish museum to court this week to get the artwork back. The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid claims it rightfully owns the work by French impressionist master Camille Pissarro. The 1897 painting, which depicts a Parisian streetscape in the rain, is valued at $30 million. Lilly Cassirer’s father-in-law bought it directly from Pissarro’s art dealer and left it to her and her husband when he died.Lawyers for the museum say Cassirer forfeited her rights when she accepted $13,000 from Germany in 1958 as payment for the piece, which was thought to have been lost forever. But it traded hands several times, and Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, one of the 20th century’s most prominent art collectors, bought it from New York gallery owner Stephen Hahn in 1976. Thyssen-Bornemisza, who died in 2002, sold the painting and hundreds of other works to Spain in 1993.A friend of Cassirer’s grandson, who lived in the United States, saw the painting in a catalog, and in 2000, the family began working to get it back. After years of legal wrangling, both sides questioned witnesses before U.S. District Judge John F. Walter this week. He is expected to rule in the case sometime this spring. —L.L. Associated Press/Annapurna Pictures/Photo by Matt Kennedy Christian Bale as Dick Cheney (left) and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush, Not all that glittersGolden Globe nominations were announced Thursday, and Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic Vice led the pack. It garnered six nominations, edging out more expected favorites such as A Star Is Born, Green Book, and The Favorite. Love for Vice among the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group of freelance film journalists that selects the nominees, underscores the entertainment industry’s ongoing disdain for Republicans.“I’ve never seen a movie that’s purer character assassination and insane conspiracy theorizing than #Vice,” WORLD movie reviewer Megan Basham tweeted. “Nasty & dishonest, not to mention dull, in its depiction of Cheney—that it received 6 #GoldenGlobe nominations is both laughable and predictable.”On the television side, nominations were widely dispersed among the likes of spy thriller The Americans, Bill Hader’s hit-man comedy Barry, the Julia Roberts–led conspiracy thriller Homecoming, Chuck Lorre’s acting coach series The Kominsky Method, and last year’s champ, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, the FX anthology series about the Italian fashion designer’s murder, led all small-screen nominees with four nods. —L.L. BOTUS will be backMarlon Bundo, Vice President Mike Pence’s famous pet rabbit (he has 32,700 Instagram followers!), will star next year in two sequels to his best-selling debut picture book, Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President. Pence’s daughter Charlotte writes the stories, and his wife, Karen, illustrates them with watercolor paintings. The two donate proceeds from the books to charities that fight human trafficking and support art therapy for cancer patients. The first installment came out in March to positive critical acclaim. It also inspired a caustic parody by comedian John Oliver, who took aim at the vice president’s Biblical stance on sexuality. Charlotte and Karen Pence didn’t take offense, though, and urged people to buy both books since Oliver was also donating the proceeds to charities that work to prevent suicide among LGBT youth and end the AIDS epidemic in the United States.The next adventures of BOTUS (Bunny of the United States) are titled Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Nation’s Capital and Marlon Bundo’s Best Christmas Ever. —L.L.Paying the piperFormer CBS CEO Les Moonves stands to lose his $120 million severance package over allegations he not only sexually abused numerous women over the years but also may have failed to cooperate in the investigation that followed. Moonves left the network in September after a bombshell New Yorker piece labeled him a #MeToo offender. Lawyers hired by CBS said they found Moonves “evasive and untruthful at times and to have deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct,” according to an investigative report obtained by The New York Times. The report concludes the CBS board of directors had cause to fire Moonves and deny him severance pay. —L.L. Image: Deck: Radio listeners get riled up about the sexual ethics of an old seasonal songCategory: Culture & ArtsKeywords: MusicArtsMediaRadioChristmasHistoryWorld War IIMoviesTelevisionBooksPoliticsWhite HouseSexual AbuseAcademy AwardsSlug: ArtsArticle Title: Baby, it’s nuts outsideAuthor: Lynde LangdonDigital Branding: MuseHide from Archive?: 0
      - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 9:29pm -
    • Starbucks finally bans porn
      Starbucks announced last week it will start blocking porn sites on its in-store Wi-Fi service in 2019. The move comes after years of pressure on the coffee giant to set up filters to block explicit content.Internet safety group Enough Is Enough (EIE) launched a porn-free campaign aimed at McDonald’s and Starbucks in 2014. The group argued unfiltered Wi-Fi hotspots are safe havens for online criminals, like sexual predators and pedophiles, to operate with anonymity. They also allow people to look at pornography in plain view of the general public, including children. EIE argued both companies had effectively blocked porn at their stores in the United Kingdom and could easily implement similar plans in the United States. They would also be following in the steps of other national chains that filter their free Wi-Fi, including Panera Bread, Subway, and Chick-fil-A.In response, McDonald’s installed filters at around 14,000 locations in early 2016. At the time, Starbucks said it was working on a plan to filter explicit content, but 2½ years later, the company had yet to take any action.In late November, EIE announced a new petition calling on Starbucks to follow through. “By breaking its commitment, Starbucks is keeping the doors wide open for convicted sex offenders and others to fly under the radar from law enforcement and use free, public Wi-Fi services to access illegal child porn and hard-core pornography,” EIE President and CEO Donna Rice Hughes said. “Having unfiltered hotspots also allows children and teens to easily bypass filters and other parental control tools set up by their parents on their smart phones, tablets and laptops.”Within a few days, Starbucks said it would start blocking porn. A company spokesperson announced the change to Business Insider in an email on Nov. 28: “To ensure the Third Place [in addition to home and office] remains safe and welcoming to all, we have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores and we will begin introducing it to our U.S. locations in 2019.”Hughes isn’t celebrating just yet. “They won’t get an applause until they’ve actually implemented safe Wi-Fi filtering,” she told NBC News last week, noting EIE ran a thank you campaign back in 2016 when Starbucks first said they would take action. “This time we’re going to wait and see, and we’re going to keep the pressure on.”EIE is fighting an uphill battle amid the increasing normalization of pornography in American culture. It’s easier to get Starbucks to back paper straws than porn-free Wi-Fi.Even the vocabulary is changing: Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, is no longer a porn star in the porn industry, she’s an adult movie actress in the adult entertainment industry. That shift is not just a change of words, “it’s a fundamental redefinition of an entire sector of our society in moral terms,” said Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD New Group board member. “And this isn’t by accident.”Indeed, a Gallup survey released in June found 43 percent of Americans think pornography is morally acceptable, up from 36 percent in 2017. Men ages 18 to 49 had the biggest jump: from 53 to 67 percent in the past year.That might explain why one of the world’s largest free pornography websites had the audacity to respond to the Starbucks decision with a ban of its own. In a memo to his staff last week, the vice president of YouPorn banned Starbucks products from its offices, effectively fighting for the rights of people who like to watch porn in public places.“One way or another, there has to be some reckoning for the fact that this scandal has now invaded virtually every American home,” Mohler said on his podcast, The Briefing, adding that the conversation today is about whether we can even say pornography is pornography, “much less say what we all know, and that is that pornography is evil. It is wrong, it is deadly, it distorts human sexuality, it is an assault upon human dignity.” ADF Alexis Lightcap Standing up for privacyA group of Pennsylvania high school students suing their school district for opening private spaces to transgender students has appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.On Nov. 19, the six students, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom and the Independence Law Center, asked the high court to take up their case against the Boyertown Area School District and its policy of allowing students to use restrooms and locker rooms based on their preferred gender identity.One of the six students, all identified by pseudonyms in court documents, decided to start using her actual name after she graduated high school. Last week, she wrote an editorial for USA Today defending their lawsuit.Alexis Lightcap, an African-American former foster child who was adopted by a white family, wrote that she knows what it’s like to come to terms with who you are and to be treated unfairly by insensitive people.“I won’t accept anyone being bullied or discriminated against—and that absolutely includes my classmates experiencing gender dysphoria,” she wrote. “They deserve our love and support. Even so, my privacy shouldn’t depend on what others believe about their own gender. Why is it so hard for school officials to understand that young girls care about the privacy of their bodies?” —K.C. Associated Press/Photo by Peter Dejong Emile Ratelband answers questions in Amsterdam on Monday Age fluidityA court in the Netherlands on Monday rejected the arguments of a 69-year-old man claiming he should be able to self-determine his age like others self-determine their gender. The court said Dutch law assigns rights and obligations based on age, like the right to vote and the duty to attend school, things that would become meaningless if they granted Emile Ratelband’s request. But the court seemed to ignore the fact that countless laws specific to biological sex are now meaningless in the wake of gender ideology.Ratelband was optimistic: “This is great!” he said after the ruling, noting the decision gives him “all kinds of angles where we can connect when we go in appeal.” —K.C. Tumblr cleans upIn the wake of a child pornography scandal that got Tumblr removed from the Apple app store, the microblogging company announced this week it will permanently ban all adult content from its platform on Dec. 17. Any current explicit content will be switched to private, and any new content will be deleted.“There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content,” CEO Jeff D’Onofrio said in a blog post announcing the change. “We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community.” —K.C. Image: Deck: Child safety advocates persisted despite the normalization of porn in today’s cultureCategory: Family & SocietyKeywords: SexualityInternetBusinessTransgenderismNetherlandsChild Sexual AbuseSlug: SexualityArticle Title: Starbucks finally bans pornAuthor: Kiley CrosslandDigital Branding: RelationsHide from Archive?: 0
      - 3 days ago 7 Dec 18, 8:10pm -

    World Watch Monitor

    • Sunni Arabs ‘helped drive out’ Mid-East Christians
      Amid the push by Iraqi government forces to retake Mosul from Islamic State (IS), some former inhabitants of Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains and northern Syria are refusing to go back because they believe their former Sunni Muslim neighbours were complicit in driving them out, says Middle East analyst and former journalist, Patrick Cockburn, in News Deeply. Christians returning to Nineveh believe Sunni Arab villagers were complicit in “taking their houses, killing and raping people,” he says.Cockburn adds that, in Syrian towns occupied by IS, Christians believe their Sunni Arab neighbours were similarly cooperating with IS and that returning Christians might drive Sunnis out in turn. There’s a “real, very high level of friction and hostility on the ground, which I think is going to be extraordinarily difficult to reverse”, he says.“A longer-term and very dangerous shift in both Iraq and Syria is that communities in general can’t live together any longer.”In November Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, a priest in the Assyrian Church of the East and head of CAPNI (Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq), said that defeating IS won’t guarantee Christians’ return. “What are the guarantees that it will not happen again?” he asked, noting that Iraqi Christians had been targeted not only since IS’s sudden appearance in 2014 but since the US-led invasion in 2003, after which he said the fabric of Iraq “was broken”.In the decades before IS, more than a million Christians left Iraq, which had turned increasingly hostile towards them, the minority population felt.
      - 13 Mar 17, 1:01pm -
    • ‘Freedom of religion or belief must be protected’
      Countries around the world are urged to act now to promote and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief by a UN expert.The Special Rapporteur, Ahmed Shaheed, made his appeal at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, as he set out his priorities for the mandate of freedom of religion or belief, which he took up last November.Mr. Shaheed expressed concern about a rise in the number of incidents of violence - for religiousreasons - by extremist groups, vigilante mobs and others.“State and non-State actors, alike, continue to impose restrictions, or limitations, and engage in targeted harassment, intimidation of, or discrimination against religious minorities, unrecognised religious communities and dissidents, who are often confronted with threats to their freedom, safety and security,” he said.“I am particularly alarmed by continuing reports of mass atrocities and violence that threaten the very existence of religious minority communities, including some groups that have existed for over two millennia.”Mr. Shaheed pointed to a number of mechanisms for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief that have already been developed, and for which consensus among states already exists. He said his agenda for the next three years would be focused on the implementation of these state obligations.The Special Rapporteur stressed that policies adopted to enhance the capacity of security forces to combat terrorism by limiting fundamental rights (such as freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly) often have dire consequences for the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief.He welcomed efforts to promote that right at national and international levels by governments, parliamentarians, national human rights institutions, human rights and faith-based organisations, and educational institutions.
      - 10 Mar 17, 6:39pm -
    • Iraq urged to allow UN investigation into genocide
      International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has called upon the Iraqi government to allow a UN investigation into the treatment of Yazidis by the so-called Islamic State (IS), reports Reuters.A year ago, the UK Parliament joined US Secretary of State John Kerry, the US House of Representatives, the EU Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in describing the actions of IS (or Da’esh) as genocide. In June last year, UN experts reported that IS militants seek to destroy the Yazidi group, whose beliefs combine elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions, through murder, sexual slavery, gang rape, torture and humiliation that amounts to genocide.Some religious leaders and other sources, including Vienna-based legal counsel Ewelina Ochab, believe that the campaign of genocide also extends to Christians. Prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were 1.4 million Christians in the country. Today there are thought to be fewer than 200,000. World Watch Monitor reported in May last year that Christianity “could disappear” from Iraq and Syria withinfive years, according to Catholic sources. Britain is drafting a UN Security Council resolution to establish an investigation, but Clooney said the Iraqi government needs to send a letter formally requesting the inquiry before the council can vote.Clooney, who represents Yazidi victims of IS, told reporters, “We do want to see an investigation take place with the cooperation of the Iraqi authorities, but ultimately if that support is not forthcoming in terms of real action, then the UN has to think of other ways in which to achieve accountability.”Since 2014, when IS took control of parts of Iraq, Yazidis and Christians have been under severe, and often violent, pressure with many Christians being given four options: to leave, convert to Islam, pay the jiyza (tax), or be killed. A report last October highlighted this accelerated targeting of “disproportionately suffering” Middle East Christians.
      - 10 Mar 17, 1:08pm -
    • Iranian mother and son Christian converts arrested
      An Iranian mother and son who converted to Christianity have been arrested in the north-western province of West Azerbaijan. Anousheh Reza-Bakhsh (known as Veronika) and her son Soheil (known as Augustine) were arrested on 20 February at their home in Urmia, the provincial capital. Mohabat News reports that it is the first known arrest of Christians in the city since 2008. Urmia, with nearly 700,000 inhabitants, is famous for housing the Cathedral of St. Mary the Mother of God, whose origin dates back to the 16th Century. Middle East Concern (MEC) reports that the mother and son, who had become Catholics, were baptised in Istanbul in August last year, after which they returned home and “continued to read and learn about the Christian faith”. Christian material was reportedly found at their home, as Augustine, reported to be a psychology student, had been “a keen follower of online Christian theological training programmes and Christian satellite TV channels”, according to MEC. There has been no further update on their whereabouts or safety, though they are believed to have been taken to an intelligence office of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. They are both reported to have health issues. Iran, which is no. 8 on the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian, continues to monitor and persecute Christians across the country. Often, detainees are subject to psychological and physical harm by the authorities. Iranian and European human rights and religious rights organisations have urged the international community to use new opportunities for trade with Iran since the nuclear agreement to hold the government there to account over its treatment of Christian converts.
      - 9 Mar 17, 3:23pm -
    • Pope: ‘Persecutors don’t care about denominations’
      Pope Francis has urged all Christians to pray for fellow believers who are persecuted for their faith, saying that “those who persecute them make no distinction between the religious communities to which they belong”.“How many people are being persecuted because of their faith, forced to abandon their homes, their places of worship, their lands, their loved ones!” Francis says in the video that shows three representatives of different denominations: Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox – standing as if in a police line-up accused of a crime. “They are persecuted and killed because they are Christians,” the Pope continues, adding, “I ask you, how many of you pray for persecuted Christians?”The one-minute video, which also includes images of broken religious statues and a burnt-out church, is the latest to be produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and contains his prayer intention for March: the support of persecuted Christians through prayers and material aid from all the Churches.Francis has spoken frequently about an “ecumenism of the blood” to emphasise that persecution is affecting many parts of the Church and should be met with ecumenical solidarity.
      - 8 Mar 17, 2:31pm -