Displaying items by tag: Religion
A 57-year-old Muslim man has been arrested after stabbing two women in a Marks and Spencer store in Burnley. During the attack the man shouted anti-Semitic expletives. Whilst police say it is not being treated as a terror attack, a counter-terror team is investigating whether the double stabbing had a jihadist element. The injuries to the two women are serious but not life-threatening. Jewish News reports that the Community Security Trust, a charity charged with defending Jews in Britain, is working with police, but revealed few further details. The police said, ‘We recognise that this incident will have caused concern in the community. We have a dedicated team of officers and staff carrying out enquiries and extra patrols.’
Between 20 November and 3 December, at least thirty Christians were killed, and ten young women and girls raped, in attacks on five villages by the extremist Allied Democratic Forces. Locals described scenes of terrified Christians flooding into the streets as the jihadists surrounded churches, armed with guns, clubs, machetes, swords and axes. Fourteen Christians with severe wounds are in hospital in a critical condition, and at least fifteen people were abducted. A survivor, hiding in the latrine, watched through a vent as his wife and three children were murdered. A pastor In Mayitike said the militants tried to force villagers to convert to Islam before killing them. When his family refused to convert, they shot his wife in the head and cut their four children into pieces with a sword.
A rare insight into the persecution endured by Christians living under the totalitarian North Korean regime has been given by Sookyung Kang, a Christian who fled her homeland to be able to worship freely without risking her life. She said, ‘The regime tries to control people by idolising and divinising the leaders. I believe the Gospel gives freedom to everyone. But the regime takes away freedom and won’t allow people to think freely.’ North Korea has set up ‘quarantine camps’ for Covid-19 patients, where they are deprived of food and medicine, causing many to die of starvation. Some believers have been executed simply for owning a Bible. Tens of thousands of Christians - sometimes entire families - have been incarcerated in labour camps where they are abused, tortured and worked to death.
A high court in Chhattisgarh state has ordered the district administration of Kondagaon to facilitate the safe return of Christians displaced from three villages after twelve people filed a Public Interest Litigation demanding that security be provided for them. In September the Christians were called to meetings where they were told to recant their Christian faith. When they refused, they were attacked by radical Hindu nationalists and their homes were destroyed. Since the attack, these Christians have remained displaced. ‘We ran for our lives’, said a survivor. ‘The death threats they hurled against us were very frightening. There was no other way than to flee from the village. Our lives are in danger. The villagers have vowed to kill us if we return. Our lives are being badly affected by the dangerous atmosphere created by the villagers.’
Mariam Mbula is currently senior pastor with Salvation Proclaimers Anointed Church (SPAC Nation). Its leaders, including Mariam, encourage young congregants to take out loans and give huge sums to the church. The church was founded by Tobi Adegboyega, who is worth 2.5million and drives a £150,000 Rolls-Royce - number plate PA5TOR. An investigation is under way into fraud allegations and offences relating to individuals associated with SPAC. The church denies financially exploiting young people, saying it has a ‘robust complaints procedure’ and ‘well-run disciplinary system’ and ‘is not responsible for what goes on inside individual leaders' or members' houses’. It attracts large numbers of BAME and helps them leave a life of gangs, drugs and knife crime. For a documentary, see For background, see
Last week faith leaders from across the UK wrote to the Government, urging it to re-evaluate the closure of worship places. On 4 November health secretary Matt Hancock, speaking to the House of Commons, said, ‘Ministers are talking to faith leaders to do everything we can to reach an agreement as soon as possible on the closure of places of worship during lockdown.’ He acknowledged the backlash from faith leaders on banning worship services during the second lockdown, and said he understood ‘the impact of this infringement on liberties’. Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, and Sir Edward Leigh both argued that places of worship should open again as soon as possible, as the buildings have enforced Covid-19 safety measures. Theresa May said that banning worship meetings could set a 'dangerous' precedent.
How can we worship and share our lives, when the two ways of being together - in person and online - are often really difficult for families? Making online church work for children means including them. Six-year-old J says, ‘I like talking to everyone on Zoom after the service.’ A mother said, ‘It’s good when someone asks them questions, and listens. They don’t like listening to adult conversations.’ A three-year-old now celebrates the eucharist with the Vicar with his own cup, plate, and bread. Rev’d Mo Baldwin makes Zoom interactive. Children have treasure hunts, breakout-room challenges like artwork, or designing something. The families also record elements of the service. Beth’s 12-year-old daughter coordinates Kids Church Online, including creating worship herself and encouraging other families to make things and send them in. Rev’d Stephen Gardner reads a bedtime story online every night. A mum said, ‘We all cuddle up together to watch.’
The text of the 1905 French law that lays down the separation of church and state in the country doesn't specifically mention secularism. Nevertheless, the principle is a key part of the country's political fabric. But tensions between some sections of Islam and an interpretation of secular values have now become more pronounced, particularly in recent weeks. Protests have erupted in recent days in many Muslim countries against France, its president, Emmanuel Macron, and its perceived animosity towards their faith. France claims it is officially neutral, supporting neither religion nor the absence of it.
Politics is concerned with serving the common good, weighing and developing solutions, stewarding resources in the public interest; music touches our experiences, tastes and emotions. Boris Johnson’s description of the NHS as ‘powered by love’ following his recovery from coronavirus was notable in its departure from this pattern. His tribute conveyed something out of the ordinary, reflecting an insight derived not from briefings or expert analysis, but through relationship and direct personal experience. Churches have more in common with music than politics. The greatest Christian commandments have to do with love for God and for other people. One expression of love is kindness, which we have seen in abundance during the coronavirus pandemic. Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.’
On 27 October Christians will pray for the unborn children who will not reach their God-given potential. Since 1967 9.5 million babies have been aborted in the UK. Every three minutes, a precious life is destroyed. Our nation has one of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe. Pray for the Church to make her voice heard for the lives of our youngest ones. Cry out that she will have God’s heart on this issue, for deep repentance, and a compassionate, decisive move to stop this evil from spreading further in our land. Pray for workers providing abortion to have a change of heart and mind. https://www.worldprayer.org.uk/blog/day-of-prayer-about-abortion Also the pro-abortion argument has raged for over a century. Offensive pro-abortion slogans include, ‘What makes you religious fanatics think you can tell me what to do with my uterus?’ Pray for communities to recognise infant loss and heart-break that follows abortion.