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

Berean Research

  • newDownplaying the Devil in NAR
    Should you pray for God’s protection from being deceived and then stop worrying about being deceived by the devil? Likewise, once you pray for protection should you then let your guard down, not worry about your need for protection, and embrace all–and I mean all–manifestations of the miraculous? Holly Pivec explains why putting aside spiritual discernment […]The post Downplaying the Devil in NAR appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 15 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 4:14pm -
  • Jen Hatmaker: Jesus Came to Affirm the LGBT Community
    There is no question that Jen Hatmaker, “evangelical wunderkind who is a one-woman columnist, book-writing machine, conference speaker and all-around mom of five kids and pastor’s wife,” is trying to change minds about what the scriptures teach on many hot button social issues. As we’ve pointed out before, she follows the same basic playbook as Progressive […]The post Jen Hatmaker: Jesus Came to Affirm the LGBT Community appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 1 day ago 24 Sep 18, 8:29pm -
  • Thanks for Nothing
    Society paints people as victims. But does the Bible do that? Do we learn from reading the scriptures that although believers suffer unjustly and experience various trials, that those who suffer injustice should view themselves as victims? Certainly not! What the Bible does teach is that we are all dirty rotten sinners; thus, we deserve God’s […]The post Thanks for Nothing appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 7 days ago 19 Sep 18, 5:27pm -
  • The Gigantic Problem Beneath the Really Big Problem
    Something is true because it’s actually true-whether you like it or not.  Something is false because it’s actually false-whether you like it or not.  Has the American Evangelical Church abandoned God’s Word? According to Steven Kozar of Messed Up Church, God’s Word has been abandoned. In a letter he wrote, Kozar addresses this along with other […]The post The Gigantic Problem Beneath the Really Big Problem appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 8 days ago 18 Sep 18, 5:31pm -
  • Being Berean – 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture
    Bible study author, speaker and blogger, Michelle Lesley, has come up with 8 steps every Christian should take in order to become what those of us involved in a discernment ministry refer to as a “Berean.” As we point out in our Discernment White Paper (which will help you guard against error): Christians who are […]The post Being Berean – 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 9 days ago 17 Sep 18, 5:09pm -

Christian Headlines

Christian Post

Christianity Today

  • Interview: Francis Chan: Stop Treating the Book of Acts Like Hyperbole
    The former megachurch pastor asks today’s churches to measure their practices against the New Testament standard.Eight years ago, Francis Chan resigned as senior pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California—the church he helped grow from 30 people gathered in a living room to a multimillion-dollar ministry. He wasn’t burned out. There was no disqualifying moral failure. He’d simply grown convicted over his challenges in steering a large ministry in accordance with biblical values.Chan sold his house and spent a year traveling through Southeast Asia, visiting churches and interacting with church leaders. Returning to California, he began planting churches in his home and the homes of others in his San Francisco neighborhood. His latest book, Letters to the Church, is a pastoral call for American churches to consider whether their values and practices are consistent with Scripture. Writer and fellow Bay-area resident Rachael Starke spoke with Chan about the blessings that come from recommitting to church life as God designed it.Your book exhorts churches to recommit to Acts 2 practices like extended prayer, radical love and service, and intimate fellowship within the home. But many of these run counter to the digitized lives we live today, especially in places like San Francisco. How have revolutions in technology influenced American church practices and habits?Technology is really about speed: doing everything faster and with less effort. We’re tempted to want the church to be the same way—let me accomplish what I want in as little time as possible. But the blessing is going to come from the work itself, from the hard work you do to love and serve one another. What could be greater than that?Continue reading...
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  • Azusa Pacific Okays Gay Romance (But Not Sex and Marriage)
    Christian university is also now hosting a formerly underground LGBT student group.Azusa Pacific University (APU) has dropped a policy preventing students from engaging in “romanticized” same-sex relationships.The Southern California member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) also dropped longstanding language from an eight-point statement on human sexuality which had declared: “homosexual acts” (among others) are “expressly forbidden” by Scripture; “heterosexuality is God’s design for sexually intimate relationships”; and “humans were created as gendered beings” in order to be fruitful and multiply.The Christian school, which still requires celibacy of unmarried students, now has a shorter six-point statement that more succinctly states that marriage is between “a man and a woman, which Jesus reaffirms,” and refers to humans as created “male and female” instead of “gendered.”The new statement drops a list of sexual behaviors prohibited by the Bible. It also drops the word sin from its concluding sentence, which previously read: “Any deviation from a biblical standard of sexual behavior is sin and therefore is an opportunity for repentance, grace, and redemption, so that as a community we might honor one another and glorify God.”“APU believes in a biblical definition of marriage as defined as between one man and woman,” Rachel White, a school spokesperson, told CT. “All others living outside of that definition are called to abstinence.” (APU does not offer married housing.)“A change in policy does not change practice,” the university said in a written statement, which also says the new sexuality statement “strengthened” ...Continue reading...
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  • How Christian Leaders Should, and Should Not, Speak in This Kavanaugh Moment
    How can we spiritually lead our people struggling to respond in a culture charged by political polarization and fed a diet of cable news and social media?We’ve all seen them. Accusations. Denials. A nation divided. Social media upheaval.It’s not new. In fact, to some it may be getting so disturbingly ‘normal’ that they have tuned out.This time we are dealing with accusations against Supreme Court nominee and judge Brett Kavanaugh. At a time when the dam continues to break on decades of sexual assault and harassment allegations, the political import of the nomination has taken an already challenging issue and supercharged it with political tribalism.The result is that many church leaders are unsure how to respond. Yet this is precisely the time when pastors and ministry leaders need to stand with courage in leading their people.The question is: leading them to where?So how do we respond? Or, for that matter, should we?Scrolling through my twitter feed, I see a nation and church divided. Do we speak out on issues such as the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh or in defense of his accusers, Professor Ford or Deborah Ramirez?Or do we keep silent?How can we spiritually lead our people struggling to respond in a culture charged by political polarization and fed a diet of cable news and social media?Let me share just a few considerations for church leaders navigating this issue.First, you don't have to say anything, and that may be the right decision.We live at a time that unless leaders instantly respond to current events on social media, they are hiding or ignoring the issue. There is a sense that we have to speak into everything. The truth is we just don't.You are not a senator. You are a Christian leader. You have a calling to lead your congregation, not to comment on the news. Don’t demean the importance of the former in favor of an impulse ...Continue reading...
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  • Hillsong: ‘What a Beautiful Name’ for a New Denomination Spanning ‘Oceans’
    Influential church separates from Australia’s Assemblies of God.After more than three decades as the largest and best-known member of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC), Hillsong Church announced last week it would split from its parent group and form its own denomination.The leadership of both Hillsong and the ACC, a branch of the larger World Assemblies of God Fellowship, have described the parting as amicable.“I want to make it clear that we have no grief or dispute at all with the ACC,” wrote Hillsong Church cofounder and global senior pastor Brian Houston in a letter announcing the separation. “Instead, this decision comes after almost two years of prayerful discussion within both our global and Australian church boards.”Founded in Sydney in 1983 by Houston and his wife Bobbie, Hillsong exploded into one of the most recognizable brands in contemporary Christianity.With three record labels, a broadcasting network, global conferences, and its own college, Hillsong has blossomed beyond the geographical contours of its former denomination. With churches in more than 20 countries across 5 continents and 263 separate church services per weekend, the network estimates weekly attendance at Hillsong churches averages about 130,000.A relatively small denomination in terms of attending congregants—by contrast, there are nearly 70 million Assemblies of God members worldwide, and approximately 375,000 constituents of the ACC specifically—Hillsong boasts enormous influence. Tens of millions of Christians spanning 60 languages sing Hillsong originals, such as “What a Beautiful Name” and “Oceans,” every Sunday. Millions more watch and listen to its programming.In his parting letter, Houston wrote admiringly of ACC president Wayne ...Continue reading...
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  • I Grew Up with Black Household Help
    How I’m learning to name both the injustice and goodness of my childhood in the South.When I was a girl, sometimes it rained so hard and long that our backyard flooded. Our house sat a few feet above sea level, a block away from the inlets of the North Carolina coast. When the rains came, there was always a chance that the drainpipes would overflow, spill across the roadways, and fill the bottom of the yard with enough water to reach our waists.We had no fear. No thoughts of snakes or disease or objects dislodged by the current menacing our bare bodies with their sharp edges. We knew the Sunday school story of the Flood as one of triumph and hope—animals, a rainbow, salvation. We didn’t learn about the waters of judgment. We stripped down to our underwear to wade through the murky pool and never considered the destruction that primordial storm had left in its wake.I now look back on my childhood and see a similar mix of innocence and ignorance.In our part of town, the houses were spacious, even grand, with wraparound porches, wide-planked wooden floors, and pecan trees shading the backyards. We lived within walking distance of the local plantation. Across an old wooden bridge and a road through the woods stood an imposing three-story white manor house. Past the house, cottages lined the dirt road, with clothes hanging out to dry. We sometimes drove down that road on our way to the country club. I stared out the window of our minivan from behind tinted glass and saw African American tenants sitting in rocking chairs on the front porches. The air was hazy and thick with heat, like a shimmering wall between us.A woman named Caroline took care of my three sisters and me a few days each week. She was short and had light brown skin, a round face, and sparkling eyes. She wore a white dress and white ...Continue reading...
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Forum 18 News Service

  • Kazakhstan: Senate to adopt "extremely harsh" religion amendments?
    Parliament's upper house is due to hold its first and possibly also second reading on 27 September of wide-ranging amendments to Kazakhstan's Religion Law and other laws. "This draft Law is extremely harsh, harms the rights of believers and cannot be adopted in its current form," a Muslim told Forum 18.
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  • Turkmenistan: Tenth jailed conscientious objector in 2018
    Turkmenistan rejected a call at the UN Human Rights Council UPR to introduce an alternative to compulsory military service. The rejection came weeks after another conscientious objector, 18-year-old Serdar Atayev, was jailed for one year. Ten are known to have been jailed in 2018.
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  • Uzbekistan: Jailings "to intimidate all who speak about freedoms"
    After police and secret police home raids, at least eight bloggers were jailed "to intimidate all others who want to speak about freedoms", a relative of one told Forum 18. Tashkent blogger Adkham Olimov, jailed for 15 days and fined at a midnight court hearing, had to pay for his own jailing.
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  • Azerbaijan: Second 2018 conscientious objector conviction
    On 6 September, a court in western Azerbaijan handed a criminal conviction to a second Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector. Vahid Abilov received a one-year suspended prison term and will be under probation for one year. He is planning to appeal. Three more similar cases might follow.
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  • Uzbekistan: Secret Supreme Court hearing rejects appeal
    Without his participation or knowledge, Uzbekistan's Supreme Court rejected Gayrat Ziyakhojayev's appeal against his criminal conviction for sharing Muslim texts with friends. A Tashkent Region court returned a criminal case against a Jehovah's Witness couple to prosecutors. The case seeks to punish them for sharing their faith with others.
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Get Religion

  • newDallas Morning News offers newsworthy but superficial coverage of church sex abuse settlement
    I want to call attention to a story on today’s Dallas Morning News Metro & State section cover about a sex abuse lawsuit settlement involving Dallas Theological Seminary.I have a rather simple point to make about the superficiality of the coverage.But first, this important context might be helpful: In news reports everywhere, it’s difficult to miss the ongoing Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal. Just today, Pope Francis acknowledged that the mess is “outraging the Catholic faithful and driving them away.”’However, if the Catholic scandal is a case of a massive church hierarchy mishandling and covering up countless rotten deeds, how can journalists wrap their minds — and their notebooks — around similar abuse in free-church settings?Free-church settings are those where congregations — such as independent megachurches, Churches of Christ/Christian Churches or autonomous congregations that are part of a voluntary association such as the Southern Baptist Convention — operate outside the realm of a church hierarchy.In other words, the buck stops — or fails to stop — with a local pastor or elder/deacon group, as opposed to a formal structure with real denominational control.As GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly noted just recently: (I)t is possible for evil leaders to hide in a church bureaucracy. But that same bureaucracy can, with good leaders, be used to confront evil and to document it. It's also easier for lawyers and public officials to attempt to force (think lawsuits aimed at pools of resources and shared insurance policies) larger, united church bodies into action. It's true. It's rather easy to hide large problems in a great cloud of fog. A reporter with good sources may be able to nail down a problem in one local church. But how does one go about showing the larger picture in the world of independent and near-independent Protestant congregations? Bad pastors can simply move on and there is no shepherd above them. Who warns the next independent church? Who keeps tracks of the wolves? There is no there, there. So there is a big story here. But how does one report it, in an age of shrinking newsrooms and budgets to support skilled reporters working for weeks or months to verify information from legions of sources?
    - 9 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 9:55pm -
  • newBreaking news: Brett Kavanaugh uses the V-word, which used to be OK for Catholics
    Growing up as a Southern Baptist preacher’s kid in Bible Belt Texas, I was quite familiar with the word “virgin.” (Click here for a dictionary reference, if you need one.)It wasn’t a curse word and, for most people, it wasn’t a punch line. At the same time, it wasn’t something folks in my high school discussed in public very much. Yes, there were people who gossiped about who was doing or not doing what. However, as a nerd, bookworm and choral musician I wasn’t up to speed on all that. I was an uncool guy, even among the Baptists.My point is that this wasn’t a mysterious word. No one needed to put the V-word inside “scare quotes” (dictionary definition here), as if it was a concept from an alien planet.Take this USA Today headline, for example: “Brett Kavanaugh: He was a 'virgin' in high school and other takeaways from Fox interview.”What, pray tell, is the purpose of the quotation marks around “virgin”? Is the point that (a) editors at Gannett are not sure about the meaning of the word or (b) that Kavanaugh — wink, wink — said that word so we are putting it inside quotation marks because, well, you know.To make sure readers got the point, editors repeated this reference later in the story. This word was, apparently, the most important, the most shocking, takeaway from this interview. Kavanaugh a 'virgin' in high school The judge said he never had sexual intercourse "or anything close to (it)" until long after he left Georgetown Prep, the elite all-boys Catholic high school he attended in Rockville, Maryland. “So you’re saying through all these years that are in question that you were a virgin?” MacCallum asked Kavanaugh. “That’s correct," he replied. She pressed on: “And through what years in college, since we’re probing into your personal life here?” “Many years after, I’ll leave it at that," he answered. "Many years after."Here is my question about that passage: Is the most important word in it “prep” or “Catholic"?
    - 15 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 4:15pm -
  • newVatican-China agreement: As misguided as Rome's attempt to work with Nazi Germany?
    Hear about last weekend’s provisional agreement between the Vatican and Beijing to end their decades-long dispute over the appointment of Catholic bishops in China?China is, of course, arguably one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to suppressing religious freedom — including for persecution of its estimated six-million strong, underground Catholic church.You're excused if you haven’t seen coverage of this story, since the American media can barely keep up with the ongoing political explosions emanating from Washington these days. That means a great many international stories, while covered, often receive less overall attention than their long-term importance warrants.This Vatican-Beijing development — ostensibly designed to unite the much persecuted, Vatican-loyal, underground Chinese Catholic church with the government recognized, and controlled, official Chinese Catholic church — falls into this category.Given China’s current redoubling of its efforts to allow few, if any, ideologically rivals, religious or otherwise, it seems like an odd time to enter into any such agreement with Beijing.Which to my mind means this agreement is, for the Vatican, pretty tenuous — as is every agreement held hostage to Beijing’s generally oppressive political power plays.How will this agreement survive should Vatican officials decide to criticize one or another Chinese human rights violation? Or does China believe that by agreeing to the deal its gained a measure of Roman Catholic Church silence on such matter -- meaning this agreement is just another Chinese attempt to control religious expression?Today it's China’s Uighur Muslims. It’s not so far fetched to image Beijing lowering the boom on its Catholic population tomorrow should the Roman hierarchy offend China’s politically paranoid sensibilities.
    - 18 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 1:00pm -
  • New York Times offers bizarre twist on Benedict XVI letters, while Crux sticks to the facts
    So here is the journalism question I offer to you today: What does a letter from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI written on Nov. 23, 2017, have to do with the written testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, which exploded into public view at the end of August, 2018?If you look at this as a matter of logic, the answer is clear: Nothing.Well, I guess one could argue that Benedict could have had a prophetic vision of what Vigano was going to do. But I think that’s a bit of a stretch. How about you?Anyway, in this case it really helps to report the contents of the Benedict letter and look for the news contained therein.That’s what the team at Crux did, under this recent headline: “Benedict XVI hits back at critics in leaked letters.” Note: The retired pope is speaking to his own critics.Now hold that thought, while we look at the amazing and bizarre New York Times report about the same Benedict letters. The headline proclaimed: “In Private Letters, Benedict Rebukes Critics of Pope Francis.”You see, everything has to be about conservative Catholics attacking Pope Francis. Got that? Here is the overture, which opens with — you got it — the Vigano letter: ROME — The remarkable letter last month calling on Pope Francis to resign for allegedly shielding an abusive American cardinal also served as a public call to arms for some conservative Catholics who pine for the pontificate of the previous pope, Benedict XVI. For years now, they have carried his name like a battle standard into the ideological trenches. Benedict apparently would like them to knock it off. In private letters published on Thursday by the German newspaper Bild, Benedict, who in retirement has remained studiously quiet through the controversies over Francis’ fitness to lead the church, says that the “anger” expressed by some of his staunchest defenders risks tarnishing his own pontificate.
    - 1 day ago 24 Sep 18, 8:45pm -
  • Monday Mix: Kavanaugh, Tennessee church shooting, Baptist women, rainbow-banner burning
    If you slept this weekend, developments in the fight over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, kept coming at a lightning speed.The details are not for the squeamish. Click here and here if you dare. And here if you’re skeptical of the claims.Want a religion angle on Kavanaugh? Here is a New York Times story and one from Religion News Service.Now, on to the Monday Mix, which focuses on headlines and insights you might have missed from the weekend and late in the week.The fine print: Just because we include a headline here doesn't mean we won't offer additional analysis in a different post, particularly if it's a major story. In fact, if you read a piece linked here and have questions or concerns that we might address, please don't hesitate to comment below or tweet us at @GetReligion. The goal here is to point at important news and say, "Hey, look at this."Three weekend reads1. "We get strength from being with each other, and we want this to be just a place of comfort, but will it ever be what it was?" The Tennessean’s Holly Meyer offers a one-year anniversary update on the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tenn.That is the church where a gunman opened fire as the Sunday morning service was letting out a year ago, killing one woman and injuring seven other people, including the minister.
    - 2 days ago 24 Sep 18, 5:00pm -

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

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 StoriesNate Saint Memorial School: End of an EraVOM Radio: "When We Say Yes to God"Missions: "Safety Is Not Our Primary Goal" 
    - 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 StoriesBeing a True Vessel for God's UseMissionary Pilot Shares The Rest of the Auca Martyrs' StoryVOM Radio in Central Asia 
    - 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 AsiaAfter Arrest, "I Was Terrified"Openness in Pakistan? 
    - 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 UseMissionary Pilot Shares The Rest of the Auca Martyrs' StoryAfter Arrest, "I Was Terrified" 
    - 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"Missions: "Safety Is Not Our Primary Goal" 
    - 27 Apr 17, 8:14pm -

Religion News Service

  • newAs faith fades, it’s the couple that cheers together that stays together
    (RNS) — As religious attachments have waned as a determinant of whom Americans choose to pair with, fandom and team loyalty have taken the place for some, according to a recent online poll.The post As faith fades, it’s the couple that cheers together that stays together appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 8 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 10:54pm -
  • newNew ‘Trump Prophecy’ film highlights belief that election was God’s plan
    (RNS) — The film is part of a small but influential 'Trump prophecy' movement that proclaims the current administration is divinely ordained and condemns its critics as servants of Satan.The post New ‘Trump Prophecy’ film highlights belief that election was God’s plan appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 8 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 10:48pm -
  • newIn the Mennonite Church USA, congregations align along sexuality axis
    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (RNS) — Realignments around LGBTQ inclusion cut both ways: Conservative as well as liberal congregations are breaking away and coming together in new ways.The post In the Mennonite Church USA, congregations align along sexuality axis appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 12 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 6:53pm -
  • newJules Woodson to abuse survivors: ‘You are strong, you are brave and your voice matters’
    (RNS) — There are numerous reasons that many sexual assault victims wait years to come forward, she says. It's important to understand why.The post Jules Woodson to abuse survivors: ‘You are strong, you are brave and your voice matters’ appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 14 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 4:44pm -
  • newGerman bishops apologize for thousands of sex abuse cases
    BERLIN (AP) — The apology came on the same day that Pope Francis acknowledged that the sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church was driving people away. The post German bishops apologize for thousands of sex abuse cases appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 17 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 2:11pm -

Today's Creation Moment

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    - 45 days ago 12 Aug 18, 11:46am -
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    - 69 days ago 19 Jul 18, 5:09pm -
  • Today’s Creation Moments Email Sign Up
    - 72 days ago 16 Jul 18, 12:07am -
    BUY THE BOOK, GET A FREE DVD!   You already know Ian Taylor as the host of the Creation Moments radio program. But did you know he is also the author of the classic work on the history of Darwinism, its role in today’s social ills and the part it will play in creating a one-world government? Even today, you can find earlier editions of In the Minds of Men on eBay for $100 or more. But now you can get the revised and expanded hardcover edition for only $34.99! Plus, we’ll also send you – free of charge – the DVD God of Wonders! BUY THE BOOK … In the Minds of Men: Darwin and the New World Order 6th Edition Revised and Expanded  In the Minds of Men covers such diverse fields as history, geology, medicine and physics … yet the author has been careful to provide clear but entertaining reading, full of human interest and packed with valuable insights. With its extensive footnotes, more than 180 illustrations, full index and complete bibliography, the book is one you’ll turn to again and again in the coming years. Interest level: High School-Adult  $34.99 Hardcover 518 Pages Buy The Book GET A FREE DVD! ($19.99 VALUE) FREE WHEN....
    - 72 days ago 15 Jul 18, 9:43pm -
  • Radio Archive
    Current Volume: Volume 191 Volume 190 Volume 189 Volume 176 Volume 163 Volume 150 Volume 137 Volume 188 Volume 175 Volume 162 Volume 149 Volume 136 Volume 187 Volume 174 Volume 161 Volume 148 Volume 135 Volume 186 Volume 173 Volume 160 Volume 147 Volume 134 Volume 185 Volume 172 Volume 159 Volume 146 Volume 133 Volume 184 Volume 171 Volume 158 Volume 145 Volume 132 Volume 183 Volume 170 Volume 157 Volume 144 Volume 131 Volume 182 Volume 169 Volume 156 Volume 143 Volume 130 Volume 181 Volume 168 Volume 155 Volume 142 Volume 129 Volume 180 Volume 167 Volume 154 Volume 141 Volume 128 Volume 179 Volume 166 Volume 153 Volume 140 Volume 127 Volume 178 Volume 165 Volume 152 Volume 139 Volume 126 Volume 177 Volume 164 Volume 151 Volume 138 Volume 124   Each transcript has been written by Pastor Paul Bartz and designed to present a simple truth which upholds Biblical witness about the work of our Creator. Foreign translations of the broadcast are provided on the following websites:– Creation Moments in Czech – English and Russian – Creation Moments in Romanian
    - 79 days ago 9 Jul 18, 6:49pm -

United Methodist News Service

World Magazine

  • newSuspected extremists kidnap priest in Niger
    Extremists likely carried out last week’s kidnapping of an Italian priest from southern Niger, state and religious officials confirmed. The kidnapping is the latest in a growing number of extremism-fueled attacks in the western part of the country.The Rev. Pierluigi Maccalli was kidnapped on Sept. 17 from the parish house in the village of Bomanga, near the Burkina Faso border, government spokesman Zakaria Abdourahmane confirmed.Residents saw the attackers arrive on motorbikes and break into the parish house opposite the church, Thomas Codjovi, communications chief for the Catholic Mission to Niger, said, adding, “There were also nuns there, but he was the only one they wanted to kidnap.”Maccalli is a priest with the Society for African Missions from the Italian diocese of Crema. He worked in Bomanga for 11 years and previously served as a missionary to the Ivory Coast.Abdourahmane said the abductors likely came from neighboring Burkina Faso, but no group claimed responsibility for the abduction. Authorities combed the area for the priest and warned religious workers that the region was dangerous. Many workers limited their travels and avoided night trips.Niger’s border with Burkina Faso and Mali remains a hotspot for extremist activity by al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS). Earlier this month, armed men riding motorcycles abducted the mother of a national deputy official and demanded a $35,000 ransom. In April, suspected extremists kidnapped a German aid worker near the country’s border with Mali.In response to the attacks, the government of Burkina Faso last week banned the use of motorbikes and bike carts in the troubled eastern region from sunset to sunrise. The country said it would also monitor cars and trucks in the area as extremists seek refuge in the border region.Extremist groups in the region regularly adapt to the military’s response by moving to less secure areas following a crackdown, said William Assanvo, an analyst with the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa.“There needs to be a military response that’s driven by intelligence,” Assanvo said. “There’s also a need to improve the collaboration between security forces and civilian populations.”Kieran O’Reilly, the archbishop of Maccalli’s diocese, called for prayers for the priest’s release. “It is a very worrying time as we wait in hopeful anticipation of our brother priest’s safe return,” he said. Associated Press/Photo by Aaron Favila A protest Friday in Manila, Philippines Philippines anniversary spurs anti-Duterte ralliesLast week’s rallies marking the 46th anniversary of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law were peaceful, police in Manila said, according to the Philippine Star.Even competing rallies with 2,500 supporters and 3,000 opponents of current President Rodrigo Duterte in Rizal Park resulted in no incidents. Thousands of riot police were present as a precaution.Church groups spearheaded separate protests critical of Duterte in Luneta Park, Manila. Duterte’s “blood lust has greatly impinged on the reputation and economic stability” of the country, activist Nardy Sabino of Promotion of Church People’s Response told UCA News. Sabino urged accountability for the president’s human rights violations.Catholics and Protestants held separate services that day before walking to the “United People’s Action Against Dictatorship” rally.“Now that the nightmares of the past are happening again, it is time to wake up to the truth that martial law will never be the answer to the country’s problems,” Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV told the Star.UCA News reported that ahead of the protests, Duterte dared them to “go ahead, you band together,” suggesting critics intended to destabilize his government—an accusation church groups denied. —Julia A. Seymour Associated Press/Photo by Mark Schiefelbein Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing China and Vatican agree on bishop appointmentThe Vatican said it accepted seven bishops that were ordained by China without the Vatican’s blessing in a “provisional agreement” after decades of severed relations.In an agreement that was signed in Beijing, the Vatican said all bishops in China are now in communion with Rome. China cut ties with the Vatican in 1951 after demanding to approve bishop appointments in the country. The Vatican retains papal authority to appoint bishops.“Pope Francis hopes that, with these decisions, a new process may begin that will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome, leading to the full communion of all Chinese Catholics,” a Vatican statement said.The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it “will continue to maintain communications and push forward the process of improving relations between the two sides.”Despite hopes for communion, the Chinese Catholic Church remains split between Catholics registered under the official Chinese Church and those in the underground church that remained faithful to Rome during the period of severed relations. In March, Chinese authorities arrested Bishop Guo Xijin, who heads an underground diocese, in the southern village of Saiqi. Authorities later released Guo but banned him from celebrating a Holy Week Mass. —O.O.Japanese leader secures another three yearsJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on track to spend another three years in power after securing a landslide victory as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Abe garnered 533 of the 807 votes in a clear victory against his sole opponent, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba. Abe, who has served as the country’s prime minister since 2012, could become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister in 2021. Abe said he will use his last term to reform his country’s social security program and seek policies to “sum up” the country’s postwar diplomacy.But his highest priority remains revising the country’s pacifist post-war constitution, which was drafted by the United States. Many Japanese conservatives view the constitution as a disgrace for the country after it surrendered at the end of;World War II.“It’s time to tackle a constitutional revision,” Abe said in his victory speech. “Let’s work together to make a new Japan.” —O.O.Rohingya probe beginsThe chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is launching a preliminary investigation into forced deportations of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, also known as Burma, into Bangladesh. Fatou Bensouda said the investigation will determine whether the deportations constitute a war crime or crimes against humanity. The court’s judges authorized her to investigate earlier this month.Myanmar’s military drew international condemnation after it staged a widespread crackdown on the Rohingya that led about 700,000 people to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Rights groups accused the military of rape, torture, and other human rights violations.The investigation will look into reports of “a number of alleged coercive acts having resulted in the forced displacement of the Rohingya people, including deprivation of fundamental rights, killing, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, destruction and looting,” Bensouda said. —O.O. Image: Deck: Al-Qaeda and ISIS increasingly terrorize the regionCategory: InternationalKeywords: InternationalAfricaTerrorismNigeral-QaedaISISPhilippinesSoutheast AsiaChinaCatholicJapanMyanmarBurmaSlug: InternationalArticle Title: Suspected extremists kidnap priest in NigerAuthor: Onize OhikereDigital Branding: World TourHide from Archive?: 0
    - 10 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 9:19pm -
  • newKeeping liberty waiting
    On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a list of cases initially accepted for arguments in the 2018-19 session. From close to 2,000 petitions, the court will accept only a handful. And until a ninth justice is seated to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, experts predict the eight-justice court could steer clear of important cases with First Amendment implications, many united by one question: Will America’s pluralistic society tolerate public expressions of Christian faith?Two cases under consideration charge the justices with defining the word “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment “based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.” The legal standard requires judges defer to a statute’s intended meaning when it was drafted. But some federal appellate judges, zealous to advance the LGBT rights agenda, have ruled “sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity.In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home v. EEOC, Detroit-based funeral home employee Anthony Stephens filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity and Employment Commission claiming the owners of the business said he could not dress like a woman while at work. Stephens claimed protection under Title VII as a transgender employee. But the Christian owners of the funeral home believe humanity includes only males and females as God created them, according to Genesis 5:2. The 6th Circuit ruled in Stephens’ favor, and the funeral home petitioned the high court.Similarly, in Altitude Express v. Zarda, Donald Zarda, now deceased, sued the owners of New York–based Altitude Express, claiming he was fired for being homosexual. The owners of the sky diving company said they fired him for making inappropriate comments to a customer. The 2nd Circuit ruled for Zarda, interpreting “sex” to include sexual orientation, and the company appealed.In a third case of dictionary redo not yet before the court, the 3rd Circuit expanded the meaning of sex to include gender identity as it applies to Title IX, the federal education nondiscrimination statute. Attorney Randy Wenger, who argued Doe v. Boyertown Area School District before the circuit court, told me the case could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.In a case regarding religious symbols, the American Humanist Association sued for the removal of a 1925 World War I memorial, the Bladensburg Peace Cross. The cross’s defenders want the Supreme Court to recognize the historic context of the nation’s religious displays. A ruling against the Bladensburg Peace Cross would threaten the display of dozens of similar monuments on government land, including at Arlington National Cemetery just outside the nation’s capital, said Kim Colby, director of the Christian Legal Society’s Center of Law and Religious Freedom.Atheists’ objection to Christianity’s historical influence includes the use of neutrally applicable government grants to preserve historic buildings, including churches. In FFRF v. Morris County Board of Freeholders, Morris County, N.J., is asking the court to defend its community’s historic sites.Public prayer is also under consideration. The 9th Circuit ruled in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District that public school employees cannot pray at school events “if anyone can see them,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty, who is representing former high school football coach Joe Kennedy, who appealed to the Supreme Court.“I would love to see them take that case,” Colby, told me. “I think teachers in the public schools do not have adequate protections for their religious expressions.”Two other cases address unfinished business left in the wake of the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision. Christian business owners who refused to create gay-affirming products in Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and Lexington–Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission v. Hands On Originals are contending for their rights to operate their business according to their faith.“These cases may need to be addressed under [the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act] or the Free Exercise Clause,” Weber said. “I cannot predict how soon the court will be willing to grapple with this, but I do think it is inevitable that the court will have to do so.”But whether any of these complaints receive a hearing may depend on how many justices fill the bench. As of Tuesday, the appointment of a ninth justice is indeterminately on hold.“As happened after Justice Scalia died, an eight-justice court will likely look for narrow grounds to dispose of cases, and, if all else fails, split 4-4 when there is no majority,” Walter Weber, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, told me. “That goes for the First Amendment cases as well as any others.” Becket Shamber Flore (right), a former foster child adopted through St. Vincent’s Catholic Services who testified in court, with her parents The fight for religious adoption agenciesA federal judge earlier this month ruled that a Michigan lawsuit challenging religious adoption and foster agencies that won’t place children with same-sex couples will move forward.The American Civil Liberties Union and its Michigan chapter sued the heads of Michigan’s Health and Human Services and Children’s Services Agency on behalf of two same-sex couples who were turned away from St. Vincent’s Catholic Services and Bethany Christian Services when they tried to adopt a child in foster care, according to The Detroit News. The plaintiffs in the suit, Dumont v. Lyon, asked U.S. District Judge Paul Borman to bar the state from entering into contracts with or providing taxpayer money to private agencies that won’t place children with same-sex couples. St. Vincent’s asked Borman to throw out the case on First Amendment grounds, but he declined.The ACLU argues that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes it illegal for the government to work with religious organizations, according to Mark Rienzi, president of Becket, the law firm defending St. Vincent’s. But, he added, “the Establishment Clause says and does no such thing.” Rienzi told me it was clear the lawsuit is trying to shut down St. Vincent’s.“I think the whole case is a shame,” he said. “It seems like an unnecessary culture war fight. St. Vincent’s does great work and helps lots of children, and they are doing a good job, and it seems to be in the interest of families and kids to continue to allow them to do that.”Rienzi pointed out that the couples in question are not barred from adopting in Michigan, and they drove past other agencies who would have assisted them on their way to St. Vincent’s.;Alabama, Texas, Virginia, North Dakota, and South Dakota currently have laws that allow state-contracted agencies to refuse placements on religious grounds, all of which could come under scrutiny if the ACLU wins the Michigan case. —Rachel Lynn Aldrich Facebook/Students for Life of America Victory for a pro-life clubStudents at a New Mexico middle school finally will get to start a pro-life club on campus, thanks to intervention from Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society.Dylan Fredette tried to start Phoenixes for Life, a Students for Life group, at Rio Rancho Middle School in Rio Rancho, N.M., in November 2017 and again in March 2018m, but he was stymied both times by school officials. Students for Life and the Thomas More Society sent a letter to Rio Rancho Public Schools Superintendent V. Sue Cleveland and Rio Rancho Middle School Principal Lynda Kitt on Sept. 18, saying the denial was a violation of the First Amendment and the school’s own policies. The letter also threatened a federal civil rights action.Students for Life reported two days later that the school backed down and will allow Fredette’s younger brother, Isaiah, start the club, since Fredette has already graduated.“This is great news and we are proud of Phoenixes for Life for not giving up their fight—next time, we just hope that schools remember that pro-lifers have rights before we have to send them a demand letter,” Christina Coffman, Rocky Mountains Regional Coordinator for Students for Life said in a statement. —R.L.A.Censored no moreIn a win for First Amendment rights of student journalists, a Vermont high school backed down after censoring a story the students wrote about a school employee facing disciplinary action.Burlington High School guidance director Mario Macias faced six charges from the Vermont Education Agency for unprofessional conduct, including falsifying information on a student’s transcript, creating a hostile work environment, ridiculing an employee publicly, and revealing sensitive information about a student.After obtaining a copy of the charges, journalism students published the story on the school newspaper’s website on Sept. 10.A day later, school administrators removed the article. The students then contacted the Student Press Law Center to see if they had been within their rights to publish the story. Quick public condemnation of censorship followed, including a joint statement from the Vermont Press Association and the New England First Amendment Coalition.On Sept. 13, interim Principal Noel Green allowed the article to be republished, but the school instituted a policy of reviewing all articles prior to publication. The Burlington School Board quickly rescinded implementation of the policy, which violated Vermont’s New Voices Act, passed in 2017 to protect student journalists’ work.The board promised to consult “local First Amendment experts” before implementing additional policies. —Harvest Prude Image: Deck: First Amendment cases may not get a Supreme Court hearing until a ninth justice is seatedCategory: Religious LibertyKeywords: Religious LibertyReligionCourtsSupreme CourtGovernmentSlug: Religious LibertyArticle Title: Keeping liberty waitingAuthor: Bonnie PritchettDigital Branding: LibertiesHide from Archive?: 0
    - 10 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 9:04pm -
  • newCosby sentenced to prison, officially classified a predator
    Saying it was “time for justice,” Judge Steven O’Neill on Tuesday gave Bill Cosby a sentence of three to 10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. O’Neill denied the 81-year-old comedian’s request for bail pending appeal and also declared him a sexually violent predator. Cosby’s classification as a “SVP” means he must undergo monthly counseling for the rest of his life and report quarterly to authorities. His name will appear on a sex-offender registry sent to neighbors, schools, and victims.The sentencing closes out a yearslong pursuit of justice for victim Andrea Constand and dozens of other women who say the comedian abused them over the years. Prosecutors initially declined to charge Cosby in Constand’s assault in 2005, and he settled a civil claim with her. New prosecutors reopened the case in 2015 after reading a deposition from the civil case in which Cosby admitted to a long list of sexual liaisons that involved either pills or alcohol. Jurors could not reach a verdict in Cosby’s first trial in 2017 but found him guilty of sexual assault at a retrial in April. At the sentencing, his lawyers argued he should remain on house arrest because of his age and failing health. Prosecutors called for a prison sentence of five to 10 years.Image: Category: CrimeArticle Title: Cosby sentenced to prison, officially classified a predatorKeywords: CrimeCourtsSexual AbuseTelevisionArtsEntertainmentAuthor: Lynde Langdon
    - 12 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 6:42pm -
  • newSouth Carolina town readies for Florence’s final blow
    Five rivers flowing from eastern North and South Carolina empty into the Atlantic Ocean in or near Georgetown, S.C., making the coastal town Hurricane Florence’s last major target nearly a week and a half after the storm first made landfall 110 miles up the coast near Wilmington, N.C. So much water is heading downstream that it is backing up into rivers that weren’t flooding.Town officials are taking precautions and have recommended that 8,000 people evacuate their homes as floodwaters are expected to rise above several bridges by early Thursday, leaving only one highway out. “The work has been done,” Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber said of preparations ahead of expected record flooding. “We just need to pray.”A few miles upstream in Conway, S.C., close to 1,000 homes are flooded, and the Waccamaw River is set to crest 4 feet above its record level set two years ago after Hurricane Matthew.In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper said his state would start focusing on recovery efforts. Close to 400 roads remained closed Tuesday due to flooding or erosion, but a portion of Interstate 40 reopened earlier than expected.A tropical disturbance in the Atlantic is expected to bring rain to the region through early Wednesday, but the rainfall is not expected to cause any additional flooding.Image: Category: WeatherArticle Title: South Carolina town readies for Florence’s final blowKeywords: WeatherHurricane FlorenceHurricaneDisastersAuthor: Mickey McLean
    - 13 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 6:26pm -
  • newFDA cuts ties with fetal tissue company
    The Food and Drug Administration is severing its contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources, a company that provided human fetal tissue for research, according to a statement Monday from the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS reviewed the contract and determined it did not include enough assurances that ABR meets tissue procurement standards. Undercover pro-life advocate David Daleiden has reported that ABR got the tissue from the bodies of babies aborted at Planned Parenthood facilities.HHS also announced it would review all fetal tissue research to make sure it is up to ethical standards and ensure adequate oversight in the future. The agency said it is pursuing alternatives to fetal tissue research, both by investigating current options and funding efforts to develop new ones. The statement comes on the heels of a letter to the FDA demanding answers about a report that the FDA purchased tissue from aborted babies for research.Image: Category: Pro-LifeArticle Title: FDA cuts ties with fetal tissue companyKeywords: AbortionPlanned ParenthoodPlanned Parenthood VideosGovernmentLifeAuthor: Rachel Lynn Aldrich
    - 13 hours ago 25 Sep 18, 5:50pm -

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 -