Displaying items by tag: Religion

Thursday, 15 February 2024 22:19

India: two mosques demolished

The recent demolition of two mosques has accentuated religious divisions as India prepares for elections in April / May, expected to secure prime minister Narendra Modi a third term. The demolitions, in Uttarakhand and Delhi, come weeks after the inauguration of the contentious Ram Mandir temple on the site of a historic mosque torn down by Hindu fundamentalists in the 1990s. That ceremony, marking a huge shift away from modern India’s secular founding principles, was hailed by Hindu nationalists as a crowning moment in their decades-long campaign to reshape the nation. Both demolitions were supposedly because of ‘illegal encroachment’. In Uttarakhand, violent confrontations followed, claiming six lives and prompting curfews. Many scared Muslims have said they just want to leave. Analysts fear escalating religious tensions as Modi's BJP advances its populist, divisive policies ahead of the elections. Despite Modi's aspiration to portray India as a vibrant modern superpower, many Muslims feel marginalised in the world’s largest democracy.

Published in Worldwide

Evangelist Nick Hall, founder of Pulse, a global evangelistic organisation, has embarked on a transformative mission to saturate North Dakota with biblical truth. In 2023, Hall witnessed a spiritual revival sweeping across America, with remarkable moments like the Asbury outpouring and mass baptisms. Hall perceives this as a reformation, where societal hopes have faltered, drawing people closer to God. He marvels at the unprecedented openness and hunger for the Gospel, particularly among the youth. Amid a cultural embrace of self-centred ideologies, Hall finds cause for celebration in the growing light of faith. He trains young evangelists nationwide through Pulse and recently concluded The Reason Tour in North Dakota. Hall's North Dakota roots drive his desire to reach every corner of the state, touching lives in recovery centres, nursing homes, and juvenile centres. The tour has already ignited positive transformations. His vision includes fostering unity, prayer, and a shift in the cultural narrative in North Dakota, reminding Christians of their ultimate hope in Christ amidst societal challenges.

Published in Praise Reports

Evangelist Franklin Graham has criticised the UK Methodist Church for its new Inclusive Language Guide, which advises avoiding gendered terms like 'husband' and 'wife’. Graham, the CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, expressed his disapproval on social media, emphasising the biblical significance of these terms and the importance of adhering to scriptural teachings rather than conforming to cultural shifts. The guide, updated every six months, aims to promote inclusivity, especially for LGBT+ people, by recommending terms like 'parent’, 'partner’, 'child', and 'carer' as alternatives. It also suggests using language and pronouns preferred by individuals. The Methodist Church defended the guide, stating it facilitates respectful conversations without making assumptions or unintentionally causing offence. This initiative aligns with the church's efforts to include LGBT+ individuals, as indicated by references to organisations like GLAAD and Stonewall in the guide. However, the denomination's Book of Discipline still prohibits LGBT-identified clergy from ordination and bans same-sex marriages. A significant legislative gathering in spring 2024 is expected to address these contentious issues further.

Published in British Isles

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on global faith leaders to take action against the effects of climate change. Speaking at the Global Leaders Faith Summit in Abu Dhabi, Justin Welby emphasised the challenges millions of Christians worldwide face due to the climate crisis. He stressed the importance of caring for the climate and neighbours, especially the poor and vulnerable, and urged faith leaders to lead by example in protecting the planet. The Archbishop's audience included UN secretary-general António Guterres and a Vatican representative. He highlighted that faith leaders represent the majority of people globally and can demonstrate the desire for change and support bold decisions at COP28. The Church of England has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, divesting from fossil fuels. Archbishop Welby's message precedes COP28  in Dubai, which Pope Francis plans to attend - the first time a pope will participate in the UN environmental meeting since its inception in 1995.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 09 November 2023 21:56

Russia sentences another Jehovah’s Witness

A court in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia has sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) follower to seven years in prison on charges of ‘extremism’. Yevgeny Bushev had been under house arrest for over a year on allegations of continuing ‘the illegal activities of a banned religious organisation’. In 2017 the Supreme Court declared the JW movement to be extremist, banning its estimated 400 branches across the country. Bushev is the 15th JW follower from the region to be prosecuted. The prosecution’s witness was an employee of the National Guard (Rosgvardia) who had ‘shown interest in the Bible’: a linguistic examination concluded that Bushev had ‘tempted’ him to accept the JW faith when responding to questions about religion. International human rights NGOs have condemned Russia’s crackdown on JW followers in the years since the ban, and in June 2022 the European Court of Human Rights said that Russia had violated over 1,400 followers' right to religious freedom.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 07 September 2023 21:02

Finland: Christian MP on trial for Bible tweet

In April 2022, Finnish MP and former government minister Päivi Räsänen was declared innocent of all charges over her beliefs on sexuality, but the prosecutors appealed the verdict. The latest trial involves expressions of her Christian faith in a tweet, in a church pamphlet twenty years ago, and in a 2019 radio interview. She is accused under the ‘War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity’ for ‘agitation against a minority group’. She says it is a very important verdict for freedom of speech and religion in Finland, which has consequences across Europe. Räsänen’s tweet challenged her church leadership for sponsoring a Pride event, and included a picture of a Bible verse from Romans. The prosecutor said she wasn’t putting God in the dock, but rather those who interpret what the Bible says: ‘You can cite the Bible, but it is Räsänen’s interpretation and opinion about Bible verses that are criminal.’ The court will deliver a verdict by 30 November.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 07 September 2023 20:52

China: Christianity now banned

On 1 September, new rules came into force to limit all religious activities to official venues only and forbid displaying any religious symbols outdoors. All religious activity must be supervised by the state so that places of worship support the leadership of China’s Communist Party. Release International’s Paul Robinson says the new rules are tantamount to a complete ban on Christianity, but in fact Christianity in China is growing. The number of Christians in China has long surpassed the membership of the Communist Party. ChinaAid said they have not seen the Communist Party as bold as they have been this summer in playing God and twisting how the Gospel is taught. The only correct perspective in the eyes of the Communist government is worship of the state and placing faith in Xi Jinping.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 31 August 2023 21:07

Christians and workplace discrimination

The Catholic Union, Christian Institute, and Evangelical Alliance have written to the chair of the human rights committee, asking for religious freedom to be a ‘key part’ of a parliamentary inquiry into human rights at work. Catholic Union director Nigel Parker says that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a faithful Catholic in many workplaces in this country, and his concerns are shared by people from other denominations and other faiths. A Catholic Union survey found that almost five in ten workers do not feel able to talk about their faith openly with colleagues, with 41% of respondents saying they didn’t believe religious discrimination was given the same weight as age, race, sex, and sexuality discrimination. Although the inquiry's focus includes ‘freedom of thought, conscience, and religion’, they worry this won’t receive enough attention. They want a separate session discussing religious freedom at work to help shape the final recommendations for the Government.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 24 August 2023 23:17

Europe: rise in Islamic tensions

Recently we have seen waves of Islamic unrest across France; Muslims engaging in street skirmishes in Spain; and Muslim migrant-related assaults in Germany. Hundreds of Muslims in an English mosque, holding Qurans high, have pledged their allegiance to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and praised martyrs who ‘bled red’ for the ‘axis of resistance’. Two Austrian Muslim teenagers confessed that they intended to attack a Christian school and ‘restore the caliphate’. When confronted in court on 16 July, they admitted, ‘We wanted to shoot all the Christians in the classes.’ When asked what they would do if police intervened, they said they would have surrendered: ‘Allah forgives, and killing Christians takes us to paradise’. Meanwhile, Sweden has elevated the threat level from three to four on a scale of five due to recent Quran burnings.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 24 August 2023 22:22

France: Paris outreach to Jews

Jews in Paris face enormous pressures from more and more antisemitism acts. The International Jewish Mission (IJM) is there this summer to reach out to Paris’s Jewish community with the truth and hope of Jesus. Over 250,000 Jewish people live in Paris and its suburbs. IJM is seeking our prayers today for people like Harry. He still struggles to believe, because the horrors he and his family experienced during the Holocaust made him an ardent atheist. Since meeting Aurel from IJM and hearing the Gospel, he has softened a bit, admitting that he is not sure now if there is a God. He recently said to Aurel, ‘I really wish I had your faith.’ Aurel is leading the outreach, and knows God will help them connect with more Jewish people so they can hear about Jesus and be saved. Pray for God to open Jewish eyes and hearts as the Good News is shared with them.

Published in Europe
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