Prayer News | Where Christians Pray Through the News

Prayer List: 82 Politicians Murdered in Mexico

 

Mexico’s drug cartels are at war killing their political opposition. According to Reuters,  “At least 82 candidates and office holders have been killed since the electoral season kicked off in September, making this the bloodiest presidential race in recent history …”

The news service also reports, ” Cartels with names like Los Ardillos (The Squirrels) and Los Tequileros (The Tequila Drinkers) are fighting there over extortion rackets and control of heroin and cocaine smuggling.”

Prayer List

* Pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort the families and friends of Mexico’s murder victims.
* Pray for justice on behalf of the victims.
* Pray for members of the drug gangs and cartels to leave behind their lives of crime and to seek honest employment.
* Pray for politicians to practice discernment and to glorify God by following the golden rule.
* Pray for the Gospel to change the hearts of Mexico’s criminals and for salvation to come to men and women with hardened hearts.
* Pray for safety for judges, juries, witnesses, attorneys, reporters and honest police officers pursuing justice.

Unreached People of the Day



Friday: Tuareg, Tamajaq in Niger
Saturday: Khmer in Cambodia

Operation World Prayer Focus




Friday: China: Yunnan Province, Zhejiang Province
Saturday: China, Hong Kong

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

  • Please don’t say “broken” when we mean sin
    According to Elizabeth Prata of The End Time, the word broken is being used by Christians to change perceptions, even to redefine sin. “Is it acceptable to use the word broken when referencing already-saved Christians? Or even non-saved people?” inquires Prata.  No! “The truth is, we are not broken. We are sinners WITHOUT righteousness. We are totally corrupt. […]The post Please don’t say “broken” when we mean sin appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 2 days ago 23 Apr 18, 3:27pm -
  • Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – Normalizing Mysticism
    Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry is nothing of the sort. It’s a sham. Just a way Bethel Church leaders have devised to get their hooks into people, especially undiscerning young people. If you’re unfamiliar with Bethel Church in Redding CA, the senior pastor is the notorious  “Apostle” Bill Johnson.  For reasons that will become clear, Bethel’s considered […]The post Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – Normalizing Mysticism appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 9 days ago 16 Apr 18, 2:50pm -
  • You Can’t Love Jesus with a Heart Full of Hate: 7 Reasons to Love and Forgive Your Enemies
    Bible study author, speaker and blogger Michelle Lesley offers 7 reasons God gives us in His Word to love and forgive our enemies. Here’s one example: You Can’t Love Jesus With A Heart Full Of Unforgiveness. The reason she gives is that “Your enemy – that person you hate and refuse to forgive because he hurt you […]The post You Can’t Love Jesus with a Heart Full of Hate: 7 Reasons to Love and Forgive Your Enemies appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 11 days ago 14 Apr 18, 2:15pm -
  • I’m old enough to remember when “evangelical” was a bad word
    According to Jesse Johnson “evangelical suffers from an ambiguity largely owning to its diversity. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is different than the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, yet members of both would sign the Manhattan Declaration. If you believe the gospel and the fundamentals (inerrancy, virgin birth, bodily resurrection, personal conversion, etc.), does that make you evangelical? There is […]The post I’m old enough to remember when “evangelical” was a bad word appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 12 days ago 13 Apr 18, 3:05pm -
  • How To Do Online Discernment Ministry, part 1
    No matter if you are in your pew listening to a sermon, choosing a book at the Christian bookstore, or reading some essays online, you need discernment to determine if what you are absorbing aligns with God’s word or is a lie designed to incrementally steer you away from the narrow path. In this 2 […]The post How To Do Online Discernment Ministry, part 1 appeared first on Berean Research.
    - 13 days ago 12 Apr 18, 2:20pm -

Christian Headlines

Christian Post

Christianity Today

  • Interview: Rosaria Butterfield: Christian Hospitality Is Radically Different from ‘Southern Hospitality’
    It has nothing to do with entertainment—and everything to do with addressing the crisis of unbelief.Before Rosaria Butterfield became a popular Christian author, she was a tenured professor at Syracuse University, a lesbian feminist fighting to advance the cause of LGBTQ equality, and an unlikely convert. In 1999, her life intersected with the gospel of Jesus Christ through a friend’s radically ordinary hospitality. From hating Christians to becoming one, the transformation took place slowly and outside a church pew when the church came to her. In Butterfield’s newest book The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post Christian World, she articulates a gospel-minded hospitality that’s focused not on teacups and doilies, but on missional evangelism. Writer Lindsey Carlson spoke with Butterfield about opening hearts and front doors to our neighbors.You advocate a kind of hospitality that steers clear of teacups and doilies. How does radically ordinary hospitality differ from what most people think of as “Southern hospitality?”First of all, it is not entertainment. Hospitality is about meeting the stranger and welcoming that stranger to become a neighbor—and then knowing that neighbor well enough that, if by God’s power he allows for this, that neighbor becomes part of the family of God through repentance and belief. It has absolutely nothing to do with entertainment.Entertainment is about impressing people and keeping them at arm’s length. Hospitality is about opening up your heart and your home, just as you are, and being willing to invite Jesus into the conversation, not to stop the conversation but to deepen it.Hospitality is fundamentally an act of missional evangelism. And I wouldn’t know what to do with a doily if you gave ...Continue reading...
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  • One-on-One with Sam Chan on Evangelism in a Skeptical World
    The essence of evangelism is the gospel message—true for all peoples, all places, and all times.Sam Chan, a practicing medical doctor and a public evangelist with City Bible Forum in Sydney, Australia, recently wrote Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus More Believable. Below, I talk with him about his new resource.Ed: Why a book on evangelism?Sam: Deep down, every Christian wants to tell his or her friends about Jesus. But we also know just how unbelievable the gospel—about a man called Jesus, who is both God and human, who died and rose again 2000 years ago—can often appear.And we know that our world has changed so much in the last 10-20 years. Our world is so post-Christian, post-churched, and post-reached, that widely accepted methods of evangelism, though once effective, don’t seem to work so well anymore.As a result, Christians are caught in a hard place. We feel guilty for not telling our friends about Jesus. But at the same time, we feel helpless to do anything about it.Well-meaning Christian leaders might say to us, “Simply tell your friends about Jesus. Just do it!” But we know that it’s not as simple as that.Ed: How does this book tackle the task of evangelism?Sam: I figured that we are now so post-Christian, post-churched, and post-reached that we may as well treat our world as unreached. We’ve turned the full circle!I wondered how missionaries would bring the gospel to our 21st-century Western world. So I borrowed from what I learnt in my missiology classes—contextualization, cultural analysis, storytelling—and applied it to evangelism in our contemporary world. And voila, out popped this book called Evangelism to a Skeptical World!Ed: So what are some of the secrets to evangelism in today’s 21st-century ...Continue reading...
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  • Bethel Music and Bieber Sang It. But Do We Really Believe in ‘Reckless Love’?
    Worship experts weigh in on the theology beneath Cory Asbury’s chart-topping hit.Bethel Music’s Cory Asbury hit it big with his song about the “the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”“Reckless Love” reached No. 1 for Christian airplay last week, with more than 10 million listeners, according to Nielsen Music.It’s also back at the top of Billboard’s hot Christian songs chart, thanks to a boost from none other than Justin Bieber, who recently posted a clip of himself singing the chorus on Instagram before performing the song as part of an impromptu worship set during the Coachella music festival in California. Earlier this year, Israel Houghton offered his gospel cover.But when worship songs make it big, they also get subjected to a degree of theological scrutiny, and some have questioned whether the message of the hit song misrepresents the nature of God’s love.“A lot of people have asked why I use the word ‘reckless’ to describe the love of God,” Asbury said in a Bethel Music promo. “I see the love of God as something wild, insane, crazy. The way that he pursues, chases us down, loves, I believe, is reckless. We were going after that really furious, violent language to speak of the nature of the love of God.”Back in the ’90s, Rich Mullins sang about the “the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.” Similarly, in the worship song “Furious,” Jeremy Riddle, also of Bethel Music, describes God’s love as “furious,” “fierce,” and “wild.”About a decade ago, Christians were debating John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves” over the line “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.” More recently, concerns ...Continue reading...
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  • 5,000 Pastors Rally to Defend Housing Tax Break Ruled Unconstitutional
    Appeal: Exemptions do more than just save pastors $800 million a year.When a pastor responds to late-night prayer request or invites congregants to his home for Bible study, is he just doing his job or going beyond the call of duty?That’s not a question for the federal government to decide, according to the Chicago-area pastors and churches appealing a 2017 ruling that declared tax breaks for clergy housing costs to be unconstitutional.The lawsuit over the longstanding benefit, launched by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) seven years ago, has entered another round of appeals. The Christian defendants, represented by Becket, filed their written appeal in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals late last week.Last October, the lower court judge sided (for the second time) with the atheist group’s claim that the tax-exemption for housing allowances violates the First Amendment. The pastors’ appeal makes the opposite case: that the special provisions for ministers actually keep the government from unnecessarily meddling in religious affairs.More than 5,000 pastors from across the country have already signed on to an Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) campaign defending the exemption. The legal team expects several Christian groups, including ADF, to file supporting documentation—amicus briefs—this week, the next step before the case goes to court later this year. (Pastors have until the end of the day on Monday to sign on to the ADF brief at ministerhousing.org.)“The district court’s decision would … have devastating practical effects on ministers and communities across the country,” reads the opening brief from Becket, a legal team defending religious freedom cases. “For over a century, churches and ministers have relied on these ...Continue reading...
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  • The Moral of Moral Failings of Christian Leaders
    The character of Christian leaders is in question. We need to ask why and work for change. The past few months (and if we are honest, the past few years) have been hard for Christians, and evangelicals in particular. I’ve felt it myself as I’ve had to deal with some good friends confess to failures, and the aftermath that has occurred in their wake.It’s certainly been much harder on those directly hurt, but it’s impacted many of us.My love for Christ and his church, and the calling he has given all of us—not just leaders—to represent him well and live lives of integrity has pushed me into places of grief as of late.When Donna and I were in California in March, we had lunch with Rick and Kay Warren after church. We talked about a Saddleback conference from 2010 where Rick, Kay, and I spoke. Since that conference, about half of the speakers have stepped down from the churches they were serving due to some personal issue.Half—in eight years.That’s not right, but it is real.And, it requires some self-reflection.Secrets Come OutOne of my best friends recently resigned due to a “morally inappropriate relationship.” He’s still my friend, but before we were friends in ministry, and now we are friends in lament.One is too many, but there have been far too many moral failures in a world where Christians often claim to be guardians of morality.Sometimes it’s been more than a moral failure. Sometimes it is an abusive situation, as I’ve written about often. And, it is there where the church needs to stand with the victims—and we have seen that all too often they do not.Yet, Luke 8:17 of the New Living Translation says this: “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought ...Continue reading...
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Forum 18 News Service

  • Russia: Armed raids, criminal investigations, pre-trial detentions
    One year after Russia's Supreme Court banned Jehovah's Witnesses, officers mounted armed raids on homes in four regions, some holding guns in individuals' faces. Up to four people in custody and a fifth under travel restrictions face criminal investigations of organising or participating in a banned organisation.
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  • Kazakhstan: Parents challenge schoolgirl headscarf ban
    Kazakhstan's national schoolgirl headscarf ban is being legally challenged by a group of Muslim parents, whose daughters have been banned from school for wearing a headscarf. In their interpretation of Islam, they argue, wearing a headscarf is compulsory. Officials deny a headscarf problem exists.
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  • Russia: "Everyone has become much more cautious"
    The authorities use two Administrative Code articles to confine the exercise of freedom of religion and belief to easily regulated places, and to limited numbers of people. "Where the boundaries of lawful behaviour lie is incomprehensible," a Hare Krishna lawyer told Forum 18.
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  • Uzbekistan: Prisoners of conscience freed, others not
    Sisters Zulhumor and Mehrinisso Hamdamova were freed after more than eight years in prison for unauthorised religious meetings. Also freed was Zuboyd Mirzorakhimov, a Tajik citizen jailed for Muslim material on his mobile. An unconfirmed report says another Muslim Farida Sobirova was freed. Yet another, Mastura Latipova, remains jailed.
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  • Kazakhstan: State demands young worshippers' personal data
    A Kazakh regional Religious Affairs Department has demanded the personal data of everyone under 18 who attends Christian meetings for worship. "It was not sent to Muslims, for example, just to Christians, and selectively", an official stated. She refused to explain what "selectively" means.
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Get Religion

  • newEditor and publisher news at Religion News Service: Note strategic silences on Twitter, right now
    If you care about religion news in America and around the world, then your business-day dose of email probably includes a copy of The Slingshot, the digital newsletter produced by the Religion News Service that summarizes the newsroom's latest offerings.The typical edition includes a few hard-news pieces by the wire service's small, but in most cases highly experienced staff, as well as lots of links to RNS opinion columns and blog posts. The Slingshot also includes short, helpful notes pointing readers to religion features produced elsewhere.In many ways, The Slingshot shows where American journalism is at the moment -- since opinion is cheap and hard-news information is expensive. The professionals at RNS are not alone in wrestling with that brutal equation.Today's edition of The Slingshot leads with aggregation blurbs pointing to articles at The Orange Country Register, Religion Dispatches, NBC News and an RNS news piece from yesterday.What the newsletter does not include is any information about the primary question that is currently being asked on Twitter. That would be: What is going on at Religion News Service?At this point, it's best to back up and follow the shards of information that have been put on the record in social media.Let's start with this announcement from the wire service's now-former editor, Jerome Socolovsky. Concerned readers will want to read the whole thread and keep checking back for updates.However, journalists will certainly note this phrase -- "and that's about all I can say."
    - 14 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 4:11pm -
  • newA 'yeah, right!' story? Try Macron wanting French Muslims to change their faith, on his terms
    When was the last time you read a story quoting some political figure’s simplistic solution to a complex situation that struck you as so absurd that your reaction was a bewildered, and sarcastic, “Yeah, right! That’ll work.”For me -- ignoring, for now, my many head-slapping reactions to the ludicrous ideas emanating from Washington these days -- it was when I read this Washington Post piece detailing French President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to reshape Islam in his nation as an antidote to the faith’s jihadist fringe.Yeah, right! That’ll work. Does anyone in Macron's inner circle study history? [Macron] has said that in the coming months he will announce “a blueprint for the whole organization” of Islam. And those trying to anticipate what that will look like are turning their attention to Hakim El Karoui, a leading voice on how Islamic traditions fit within French culture. It is hard to miss that the man who appears to have Macron’s ear on this most sensitive of subjects cuts a similar figure. Like the president, El Karoui is an ex-Rothschild investment banker with an elite social pedigree who favors well-tailored suits, crisp white shirts and the lofty province of big ideas. The latest of those ideas is this -- that the best way to integrate Islam within French society is to promote a version of the religion “practiced in peace by believers who will not have the need to loudly proclaim their faith.” But if El Karoui is the model for how Macron envisions merging Islamic traditions and French values, the effort may end up stumbling along a rough road. “He’s disconnected from everyday Muslims, and he has legitimacy on the question only because he happens to be named Hakim El Karoui, and that’s it,” said Yasser Louati, a French civil liberties advocate and Muslim community organizer.Reorganize? Like reconfiguring the whole wine drinking thing to help French Muslims loosen up, perhaps?
    - 18 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 1:00pm -
  • 'God put people on that plane for a reason,' Flight 1380 hero says -- but why does he believe that?
    How many times could God be mentioned in a news conference without reporters asking a single follow-up question about, you know, faith?I lost count of how many times hero firefighter Andrew Needum -- who rushed into action after an engine exploded aboard Southwest Flight 1380 last week -- and his family referenced God in the YouTube video embedded with this post.I'll give a rough estimate of 20 or 30 mentions of God.But questions from reporters about Needum's faith? I didn't hear a single one.Instead, the media focused on details of the flight itself (understandably, to some extent) and the closeness of the family and, well, just about anything except for religion. Which is frustrating to anyone -- I'll raise my hand -- genuinely curious about the faith angle.Interestingly, the quotes about God figured prominently in much of the news coverage I read — just without any context.For instance, give credit to the Dallas Morning News for highlighting -- not ignoring -- Needum's "God talk."The Dallas newspaper -- more so than other major news organizations, such as CNN and USA Today -- emphasized his faith emphasis in its headline and up high in its story.The headline: Celina firefighter who rushed to help woman on Southwest flight says God put him there for a reasonHere's the opening of the story:  On Tuesday morning, Celina firefighter Andrew Needum hurried to New York's LaGuardia Airport with his parents, wife and two young children to catch a flight back home. He said he did not yet know that God had placed him on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 for a reason.
    - 1 day ago 23 Apr 18, 9:33pm -
  • Behold, a Barbara Bush mystery: Family matriarch waited until age 90 to become an Episcopalian?
    If you watch the whole Barbara Bush funeral, you really get a sense of her personality and how she fit into Houston as a community, but especially life at St. Martin's Episcopal Church (the largest Episcopal congregation in North America).The service (click here) was loaded with interesting choices, in terms of the readings and hymns -- all negotiated in fine detail, months before her death by the clergy and the extremely literate Barbara Bush.There's a lot of humor in the service, since we are talking about the life of one of the wittiest figures to grace the American political stage in the 20th Century. There are quite a few tears, too, since she led a large family and clearly had a big impact on all of them.However, let me note that the service also contained one big surprise and/or mystery and, sure enough, it concerned Barbara Bush's faith. I am sure that religion-beat reporters -- had any been given this choice assignment -- would have caught it.So what was it? In my GetReligion post following the Bush matriarch's death, I noted that George H.W. Bush and his wife were dyed-in-the-wool, old-school Episcopalians and that this fact helped shape their lives, culture and style. You can see this right at the top of the fine New York Times story about the funeral: HOUSTON -- At the Episcopal church that has been her spiritual home for more than 50 years, the former first lady Barbara Pierce Bush was celebrated at her funeral as one of the most beloved political matriarchs in American history. Mrs. Bush, the wife of the 41st president and the mother of the 43rd, died on Tuesday in the bedroom of her home in Houston. She was 92, and took her last breaths holding the hand of her husband of 73 years, former President George Bush.Note especially the reference to St. Martin's being her "spiritual home for more than 50 years." With that in mind, note this material drawn from the eulogies by son Jeb Bush and the church's rector, the Rev. Russell J. Levenson Jr. This passage was way down in the USA Today report: When [Jeb Bush] asked his mom recently how she felt about the idea of dying, he said, she didn't miss a beat. "She said, 'Jeb, I believe in Jesus and he is my savior. I don’t want to leave your dad, but I know I will be in a beautiful place.’” Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., the Bush's pastor for the last 13 years, revealed that Bush came to him in 2015 -- at the age of 90 -- and asked to be confirmed in the church.Wait a minute!
    - 2 days ago 23 Apr 18, 4:22pm -
  • Can a new Amazon HQ liberalize a devout, red-state America? The Washington Post weighs in
    It has been fun following Amazon’s search for a new headquarters city in the past few months. On Saturday, while waiting for my kid’s soccer game to finish, I dashed into the local (Seattle suburb) Starbucks for a quick pickup when what should I see on the front page of the Seattle Times, but a piece by the Washington Post: “The unspoken factor in Amazon’s search for a new home: Jeff Bezo’s support for gay rights.”Well, you heard it here first.As tmatt suggested in January, Amazon may use its massive influence to persuade certain red-state cities to soften up their stance on certain culture wars issues (ie transgender people and public restroom access) to be awarded the title of HQ2. I wrote a similar post in February after the list of the 20 finalist cities was published. And you know what? We were right.What’s interesting in this latest installment of the Amazon-needs-a-new-home saga is that the religious element is front and center: When Amazon executives recently toured the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one of 20 finalists for a second company headquarters, local officials touted its growing workforce and low taxes as perfectly suited to accommodate 50,000 planned Amazon jobs. But the local team also brought an unexpected guest: the Rev. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, pastor of a predominantly gay megachurch in Dallas. He impressed upon the Amazon representatives how inclusive and welcoming the community has been to him, his husband and the 4,000 congregants at his church, according to people familiar with the meeting. In the high-stakes contest to become Amazon’s new location, it may have been a shrewd move. Although the company’s search materials don’t make it explicit, Amazon has quietly made rights for and acceptance of gay and transgender people part of its criteria in choosing a second headquarters, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely.Cazares-Thomas pastors Cathedral of Hope, a United Church of Christ congregation, for those of you interested in such fact-driven religious details.
    - 2 days ago 23 Apr 18, 1:00pm -

Mission Network News

  • Somalia sees bloodiest terror attack in country’s history
    https://www.mnnonline.org/news/somalia-sees-bloodiest-terror-attack-countrys-history/Somalia (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
    https://www.mnnonline.org/news/emergency-medical-flight-gets-conjoined-twin-infants-life-saving-surgery/DRC (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!
    https://www.mnnonline.org/news/christmas-short-term-mission-opportunities/Int'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
    https://www.mnnonline.org/news/faces-stories-behind-world-food-day/International (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
    https://www.mnnonline.org/news/state-elections-draw-near-india-spark-anti-christian-sentiment/India (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

  • newThe lesson of the loaves and fishes — lost on the House Agriculture Committee
    (RNS) — The hoarding of the nation's abundance comes at a cost.The post The lesson of the loaves and fishes — lost on the House Agriculture Committee appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 11 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 7:53pm -
  • newUS Assemblies of God elects first woman executive in more than a century
    (RNS) — The election of the Rev. Donna L. Barrett as general secretary of the denomination's top American board harks back to the church's early days, when women played important public roles in its congregations. The post US Assemblies of God elects first woman executive in more than a century appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 11 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 7:06pm -
  • newCremation plan for late Kenyan politician stirs debate on faith and culture
    NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) — Many in this mostly Christian nation view the practice as contrary to their faith and African culture.The post Cremation plan for late Kenyan politician stirs debate on faith and culture appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 13 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 6:03pm -
  • newReligion News Service appoints G. Jeffrey MacDonald as interim Editor-in-Chief
    Religion News Service, a news agency dedicated to secular coverage of religion, ethics, and spirituality, welcomes G. Jeffrey MacDonald as interim editor-in-chief.The post Religion News Service appoints G. Jeffrey MacDonald as interim Editor-in-Chief appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 13 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 5:19pm -
  • newHow Yo-Yo Ma became God
    I witnessed the great cellist engaged in an act of Jewish mysticism. Really. The post How Yo-Yo Ma became God appeared first on Religion News Service.
    - 16 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 2:26pm -

Today's Creation Moment

  • newLarge Gray and Wrinkly
    The old joke goes: “What’s gray and has a trunk? A mouse on vacation.” Of course, we know that this is really the description of the world’s favorite animal, the elephant.read more
    - 2 hours ago 25 Apr 18, 5:00am -
  • Origin of Animals
    According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, animals evolved from unicellular eukaryotes. Eukaryotes are cells that contain a clearly defined nucleus. This membrane enables the two stages (coding and decoding) of protein synthesis to be separated. According to the encyclopaedia, this has enabled different types of cell to evolve to do different jobs.read more
    - 1 day ago 24 Apr 18, 5:00am -
  • Cavemen at the Crossroads
    Accounts of the supposed evolution of human beings read like the modern equivalent of fairy stories. These intricate fables often seem to mask the inability to reject evolutionary theories when they come up against unfortunate or difficult facts.read more
    - 2 days ago 23 Apr 18, 5:00am -
  • Neumann Valley
    Joachim Neumann was born in 1650 in Bremen, in what is today part of Germany. His father was a teacher of Latin. Joachim grew up in the Reformed Calvinist Church in Germany. At 16, he studied theology at home, being too poor to go to university. Shortly before he finished his course, in 1670, he heard a sermon which changed his life.read more
    - 5 days ago 20 Apr 18, 5:00am -
  • The Humanity of Neanderthals
    In 1957, a dead Neanderthal man was discovered with nine other skeletons in Shanidar Cave in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. This particular Neanderthal Man had serious injuries, probably inflicted by other people. Police are looking for a 50,000-year-old murderer.read more
    - 6 days ago 19 Apr 18, 5:00am -

United Methodist News Service

  • newA century-plus commitment to South London
    The Methodist congregation at Bermondsey offers practical assistance and the spirit of Jesus to a diverse community.
    - 14 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 4:12pm -
  • Methodists and social justice
    Controversial new system for public assistance has major impact on Methodist-run South London Mission and its clients.
    - 1 day ago 23 Apr 18, 9:19pm -
  • Witnesses recall birth of The United Methodist Church
    They were in Dallas, 50 years ago, as a new denomination formed from the Methodist Church and Evangelical United Brethren Church.
    - 2 days ago 23 Apr 18, 4:04pm -
  • Voices of the Methodist Central Jurisdiction
    The Central Jurisdiction was a racially segregated body of the Methodist Church from 1939-1968. In this audio slideshow, former members of the jurisdiction discuss its history.
    - 5 days ago 19 Apr 18, 8:14pm -
  • Religion and Race celebrates 50 years
    Formed as a commission to monitor the church’s integration efforts, the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race has expanded its inclusion advocacy worldwide.
    - 6 days ago 19 Apr 18, 5:21pm -

World Magazine

  • newNew Jersey churches lose preservation grant case
    A unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court ruled last week that churches should not have access to county historic preservation grants.Attorneys for a dozen New Jersey churches, all previous grant recipients, are considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The New Jersey justices ruled taxpayer funding for restoration of historic churches violates the state Constitution’s Religious Aid Clause. In a concurring opinion, Justice Lee Solomon admitted the merits of the case required he vote with the majority but argued the state’s “antiestablishment interests” are limited by the U.S. Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause.“No one has disputed that these structures are historic, or that they contribute to the local historic districts,” Solomon wrote. “The fact that prayer occurs inside the structures should not deprive the public of the benefit of preserving their outside appearance, which is all that the grants do.”A taxpayer-funded historic preservation trust in Morris County, N.J., provides money for qualified projects, including churches. From 2012 to 2015, the trust awarded $4.6 million to 12 active churches for restoration projects. But a resident, backed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, filed suit in 2016, claiming the grants violated the state’s constitution.The state high court agreed and overturned a lower court decision in the churches’ favor. Part of the high court’s decision hinged on wording from grant applications stating “funds were needed to allow the church to offer religious services.”That wording disqualified the churches from relying on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, Justice C.J. Rabner wrote in the majority opinion. The Trinity decision applied so long as the generally available public funds would not be used for an “essentially religious endeavor.”“The court viewed the grants as being intended to keep the church doors open for services, which it viewed as subsidizing religion,” said Ken Wilbur, an attorney with Drinker Biddle representing the 12 churches. “But none of the applications asked for or were given funds in order to continue hosting religious services.”The congregations—which include churches aligned with the Presbyterian Church (USA), The Episcopal Church, the Reformed Church in America, the United Methodist Church, American Baptist Churches USA, and the United Church of Christ, and a Catholic parish—could repair their buildings with cheaper, modern materials that would maintain the structures but destroy their historic value, Wilbur noted. “This would not, however, advance the county’s legitimate interest in preserving large, historic, slate-and-stone structures as a means of preserving the integrity of the historic districts anchored by these structures,” he said.The court did not seek a reimbursement of the grants, but the ruling will apply going forward, preventing the churches from seeking additional grant funds.In a similar ruling issued in March, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled a public grant to restore a historic church’s stained glass windows violated that state’s Constitution. The decision does not bar all future grants but establishes a three-point test for determining whether future grants pass constitutional muster. iStock.com/BevLinder Army chaplain faces bias complaint over marriage workshopA U.S. Army chaplain could face disciplinary action after a lesbian service member accused him of discrimination for excluding her from a marriage workshop. An attorney for Chaplain Jerry Scott Squires calls the conclusions found by the miltary’s office of equal opportunity investigation “severely deficient” and has asked the commanding officer to strike the complaint and restore Squires’ untainted service record.The woman, a sergeant, asked Squires if she could enroll in a Feb. 9 marriage workshop he planned to lead. The registration deadline had already passed, he told her, but added he could not facilitate the “Strong Bonds” workshop if it included same-sex couples. The tenets of his endorsing ministry, the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, prohibited him from doing so. Squires later made arrangements for the sergeant to attend another Strong Bonds meeting, according to attorney Michael Berry with First Liberty.But that didn’t suffice, and the woman filed an official complaint. Berry described the subsequent investigation as fraught with “factual discrepancies” and asked Col. William J. Rice to dismiss the complaint and its career-damaging implications.“It is inconceivable that a military chaplain who merely explains that his/her ecclesiastical endorser places certain restrictions on what religious rites, ceremonies, and practices he/she may perform violates military [equal opportunity] policy,” Berry said, noting the investigation concluded the sergeant’s desire to attend a specific workshop superseded the chaplain’s “sincerely held religious beliefs, denominational tenets, and legal requirements.”Squires’ case comes just two weeks after the successful appeal by an Air Force officer who faced a similar career-damaging investigation over a discrimination complaint. —B.P. www.cph.org A promotion for vacation Bible school materials on the Concordia Publishing House website Google blocks Christian publisher’s adsGoogle AdWords disabled a Christian publisher’s marketing tool because its ads mention Jesus and the Bible. Concordia Publishing House, the publishing arm of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, revealed the spat with Google in an announcement Tuesday.Remarketing ads are generated by a user’s previously visited websites and are designed to draw them back to the original source for a purchase. A Google representative initially told Concordia its remarketing ads violated Google’s “interest and location” policy. Then the company said the Concordia ads violated its prohibition against marketing “religious beliefs.” Finally, after a manual review of Concordia’s website—with its banner promoting vacation Bible school materials—the Google representative informed Concordia its remarketing tool had been disabled because the publisher mentions Jesus and the Bible.The tool could be put to use again if Concordia removed all references to the offending content and used a “different type of Google ad product,” according to the publisher’s statement.“We are not willing to sacrifice our beliefs to comply with Google’s requirements,” Concordia president Bruce Kintz said. “It’s no secret that society is becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. This increasing hostility makes our mission of proclaiming that faith through the books, Bibles, and curriculum that we produce all the more important.”Providentially featured under “new releases” on the website’s homepage: The Gates of Hell: Confessing Christ in a Hostile World, a collection of sermons and essays testifying to the “power of Christ’s promise to defend His Church.” —B.P.Oklahoma foster care bill gets a second chanceThe Oklahoma House of Representatives could take up a bill providing protection for religious foster and adoption care agencies Wednesday. The bill’s co-author, Rep. Travis Dunlap, a Republican, has filed an amendment repealing language inserted during a committee hearing that eviscerated the law’s intent. Although mindful of the ardent opposition the bill faces from pro-LGBT forces, Dunlap told me he is cautiously optimistic it will pass the state House. The measure, like those in about six other states, would provide legal protection from ruinous lawsuits filed against faith-based foster and adoption care agencies that do not serve same-sex couples. —B.P.Student, college settle free speech lawsuitJoliet Junior College has agreed to abandon its restrictive speech policies in a settlement with student Ivette Salazar. Campus police detained and questioned Salazar in November for passing out flyers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation that proclaimed an anti-capitalism message. Salazar sued over the school’s requirement she only distribute such literature in a small, out-of-the way space on campus. As part of the settlement, the suburban Chicago school agreed to adopt a model speech policy written by the University of Chicago and championed by Salazar’s attorneys at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. —B.P. Image: Deck: State’s high court rules against funding applications because they allow churches to continue holding religious servicesCategory: First AmendmentKeywords: First AmendmentReligious LibertyFree SpeechAdoptionGovernmentFoster CareChurchesSlug: First AmendmentArticle Title: New Jersey churches lose preservation grant caseAuthor: Bonnie PritchettDigital Branding: LibertiesHide from Archive?: 0
    - 11 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 7:58pm -
  • newJudge again denies further treatment for Alfie Evans
    UPDATE: Judge Anthony Hayden has denied a final appeal to Alfie Evans’ family after holding another hearing Tuesday afternoon. An Italian Embassy official appeared in court, and a lawyer for the Evanses told the judge that an air ambulance was standing by to take Alfie to Italy for treatment, The Guardian’s Josh Halladay reported. But the judge ruled against it, calling his decision “the final chapter in the case of this extraordinary little boy.”UPDATE (11:57 a.m.): A judge granted the family of Alfie Evans, a toddler with a degenerative neurological condition, a new hearing Tuesday after the 23-month-old breathed on his own for hours after doctors discontinued his life support Monday. Judge Anthony Hayden said he would hear a new appeal from Alfie’s parents to transfer him to a hospital in Rome on the grounds that Italy has granted the child citizenship.OUR EARLIER REPORT (10:10 a.m.): Alfie Evans, the British toddler doctors said would die without ongoing medical intervention, started to breathe on his own after doctors disconnected his life support systems Monday. The 23-month-old diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition, survived for six hours without assistance, prompting doctors to give him oxygen and hydration. Tom Evans, Alfie’s father, announced the unexpected development Tuesday, describing the doctors as “gobsmacked.” “He is still working, he’s doing as good as he can but we do need him to be supported in the next hour. It’s going to be hard,” Evans told supporters and reporters gathered outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Evans and Kate James, Alfie’s mother, have waged a monthslong court battle to prevent the hospital from turning off their son’s life support. Doctors insisted he should be “allowed” to die. Evans and James want to have their son transferred to a Catholic hospital in Rome willing to treat him, but British courts refused, calling further treatment futile. Alfie is in a semi-vegetative state stemming from a condition doctors still haven’t been able to identify.Image: Category: Pro-LifeArticle Title: Judge again denies further treatment for Alfie Evans Keywords: Parental RightsBritainInternationalAuthor: Leigh JonesLynde Langdon
    - 11 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 7:11pm -
  • newU.S. singles out human rights abusers
    The Trump administration in its first global human rights report called out China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea as “forces of instability” due to “daily” abuses of human rights.The 2017 annual report includes nearly 200 countries and territories. Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan in his introduction to the report said the governments of the four nations consistently violate human rights within their borders.“We seek to lead other nations by example in promoting just and effective governance based on the rule of law and respect for human rights,” Sullivan wrote.The report held the Chinese government responsible for abuses including forced disappearances, torture, forced confessions, and official repression of the Tibetans and Uighurs, among others. In Iran, the report noted, the most significant abuses are political imprisonment and restrictions on religious freedom and the press.Russia’s abuses included extrajudicial killlings such as the murders of LGBT people in Chechnya, privacy interference, and refoulement, or sending refugees back to countries where they face persecution. And in North Korea, the report said impunity remains a problem with “no known attempts to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses.”In a news conference Friday, Sullivan also condemned the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, also known as Burma, where more than 670,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the country. He commended Liberia for its first peaceful transition of power in more than 70 years and praised Uzbekistan’s move to seek a reform agenda. “We hope to see many more positive accounts of countries taking serious action to improve the human rights record in the reports next year,” Sullivan said.In its most notable change, the report excluded a “reproductive rights” section that previously detailed access to abortion and contraception for each country. In its place, the Trump administration added a section called “coercion in population control.” The United States first included abortion and contraception availability in the 2011 report under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.Michael Kozak, senior adviser at the State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said the administration reverted the term to avoid sending the wrong message. “We went back to the term that’s used in the U.S. statute that requires the Human Rights Report, which is ‘coerced family planning,’ namely coereced abortion or involuntary sterilization,” he said. Associated Press/Photo by Alfredo Zuniga A protest Monday in Managua, Nicaragua Deadly protests in NicaraguaThousands of demonstrators on Monday flooded the streets of the Nicaraguan capital Managua to march against the government crackdown that killed nearly 30 people since a social security policy change triggered protests last week.President Daniel Ortega on April 16 issued a decree that hiked taxes and altered the pension scheme in a bid to support the country’s failing social security system. The resulting clashes between security officials and protesters killed nearly 30 people. Marlin Sierra, director of the Nicaraguan Center of Human Rights, told Reuters that authorities arrested another 120 people.Ortega withdrew the policy changes on Sunday, but the protests over government repression persisted. Protesters waved the country’s blue and white flag while chanting, “President, get out!” The United States ordered families of diplomats to vacate the country and encouraged people to “reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime and protests.”Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a statement Monday said Guterres called on the country’s government to protect human rights for all, “particularly the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.” —O.O. Associated Press/Photo by Bullit Marquez Patricia Fox at a Saturday news conference in Quezon City, Philippines Duterte ordered persecution of nunAn Australian nun working with poor farmers in Quezon City, the Philippines, awaits possible deportation over “disorderly conduct.”The Australian Broadcasting Company reported that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the investigation of 71-year-old Catholic nun Patricia Fox and criticized her outspokenness regarding human rights in the Philippines.“You are a foreigner! Who are you?” he said, calling it a “violation of sovereignty.”“It was not the military who arrested the nun,” Duterte said. “It was upon my orders implemented by the Bureau of Immigration, and I take full responsibility legal or otherwise for this incident.”Authorities arrested Fox on April 16 with the intention of deporting her, UCA News reported, but she was later released pending investigation.Her congregation’s superior-general defended the nun for devoting herself to the poor and marginalized.The Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum also condemned Duterte’s actions, saying, “We express outrage at this evil-doing and demand that all politically motivated harassment against human rights defenders, peace and justice advocates, political activists, and church workers be put to a stop.”Although Christians don’t face ongoing government persecution in the Philippines, religious workers who speak out against the government’s methods of fighting against drugs or Communist rebels can face hostility. Even working near rebels has sometimes resulted in false criminal accusations. —Julia A. Seymour Myanmar grants new year amnesty to pastorsNewly elected Myanmar President Win Myint pardoned thousands of prisoners for the country’s new year celebration and began releasing people April 17.“To bring peace and pleasure to people’s heart, and for the sake of humanitarian support, 8,490 prisoners from respective prisons will be pardoned,” the Presidential Office said, according to Reuters. Most were convicted of drug charges, but at least 36 were political prisoners.Two of them were Kachin Baptist pastors Dumdaw Nawng Lat, 67, and Langjaw Gam Seng, 35. UCA News reported that both were freed and in good health. Myanmar military forces abducted them on Christmas Eve 2016. In late 2017, a court sentenced them for alleged ties to ethnic Kachin rebels.Amnesty International condemned the politically motivated sentence, attributing it to the pastors helping organize a visit for journalists to view destruction from military airstrikes in Myanmar, also known as Burma.Another Kachin Baptist prisoner was also released, but UCA News reported his health was poor from torture and prison conditions. —J.A.S.India adopts death penalty for child rapeThe Indian government on Saturday approved the death penalty for convicted rapists of girls younger than 12. The ruling comes amid heightening frustration with serial rape and killing attacks on young girls. The executive order, approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, also amended the criminal law to include harsher punishments for other rape cases.The order follows this month’s rape and killing of an 8-year-old Muslim girl in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Her death prompted protests demanding justice. Last week, authorities arrested a lawmaker in Uttar Pradesh as a suspect in the rape of a 17-year-old last year.The Cabinet also increased to 20 years the prison sentence for raping a girl younger than 16 and raised the penalty for raping women to 10 years in prison. The Hindustan Times said Indian courts have achieved convictions in only about 30 percent of current and pending cases of assault against children. —O.O.Europe accepted more than half a million refugees in 2017European nations last year granted asylum to more than half a million asylum seekers, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office. The majority of the 538,000 refugees came from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Germany took in more than 60 percent of the refugees. More migrants continue to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. Since January, more than 18,575 migrants have arrived in Europe. The Libyan navy on Sunday said it rescued 263 people and recovered 10 casualties in two missions off the Libyan western coast. —O.O. Image: Deck: A new report calls China, Russia, others ‘forces of instability’Category: InternationalKeywords: Human RightsRussiaChinaEuropeImmigrationRefugeesNicaraguaProtestForeign PolicyPersecutionPhilippinesMyanmarIndiaSexual AbuseSlug: InternationalArticle Title: U.S. singles out human rights abusersAuthor: Onize OhikereDigital Branding: World TourHide from Archive?: 0
    - 12 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 7:02pm -
  • newAttack on Nigerian church kills 15 worshippers
    ABUJA, Nigeria—Gunmen killed 15 people in a Tuesday morning attack on a Catholic church in Nigeria’s Benue state. Officials said the gunmen targeted St. Ignatius Catholic Church in the Ayar-Mbalom community but also burned 50 houses. Benue state has faced multiple clashes between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and mostly Christian farmers in recent years. Changing environmental conditions have driven the herdsmen toward Nigeria’s Middle Belt in search of grazing pastures for their cattle. Less than a week ago, a suspected herdsmen attack killed 10 people in another area of the state. Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari in a statement condemned the attack as a violation of a place of worship and an attempt to stoke religious conflict.Image: Category: PersecutionArticle Title: Attack on Nigerian church kills 15 worshippersKeywords: TerrorismNigeriaAfricaPersecutionAuthor: Onize Ohikere
    - 13 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 5:38pm -
  • newFormer President George H.W. Bush hospitalized
    Former President George H.W. Bush, 93, is recovering in a Houston hospital from an infection, according to a family spokesman. Jim McGrath said Monday that Bush appeared to be responding to treatments and was eager to travel to his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He was hospitalized shortly after attending the funeral of his wife, Barbara, who died last week and was laid to rest Saturday in Houston. The former president uses a wheelchair and an electric scooter after developing a form of Parkinson’s disease, and he has required hospital treatment several times in recent years for respiratory problems.Image: Category: Family & SocietyArticle Title: Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalizedKeywords: NewsworthyPoliticsWhite HouseHealthAuthor: Lynde Langdon
    - 15 hours ago 24 Apr 18, 3:44pm -

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 -