Displaying items by tag: Religion
The Christian legal organisation ADF UK says local authorities fined army veteran Adam Smith-Connor as he ‘stood still and silent’ on a street for a few minutes before being approached by community safety officers. He had his back toward the clinic to be mindful of the privacy of staff and people attending the facility. But a buffer zone preventing prayer in the area of the clinic is established. He told the officers he was praying for his son, who is deceased. He said, ‘Twenty-two years ago I paid for my girlfriend to have an abortion. The consequences of this grieves me years later as I realise I lost my son Jacob to an abortion I had paid for. I stood outside a similar facility and prayed to God for my son Jacob. In my army medical training, I assisted in abortions, but now I pray for those who perform abortions. Adam is challenging the fine.
There is a move to change Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act, and the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) has recommended removing the right of Christian schools to exclusively hire Christian teachers. They released a Report containing 46 recommendations, four of which relate to religious bodies, one of these recommendations would narrow the 'genuine occupational requirements' so Christian schools cannot require all staff to be Christian. Only certain roles would meet that criterion, like the principal or chaplain. A science teacher, for example, would not be required to be a Christian. This dramatically undermines a Christian school’s ability to fulfil their ethos. Christian schools are places where students practise their faith along with teachers and staff. The idea that staff are not required to live according to the school’s religious ethos is at odds with faith-based learning. The Australian Christian Lobby is encouraging Australians to write to their MPs and the Minister for Education to express their concerns.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. Bangladesh was part of Pakistan until its independence in 1971. Islam is the official religion, and the government propagates Islam with financial assistance to mosques and by organising Imams’ training. 89% of the population is Muslim. The Christian population is a fraction of 1%, facing persecution from Muslim communities and ISIS. Christians meet in underground house churches. In the early 1800s, William Carey ministered to the Bengali and translated the New Testament into their language. Today, indigenous missionaries effectively continue the work of evangelism and discipleship. Missionary support and funding is their greatest need for discipleship and training programs. Missionaries also engage in compassionate outreach, including providing education to poor Muslim and Christian children, running feeding centres that provide nourishment to hundreds of children, and sheltering orphaned or abandoned children.
On 25th January, Rwanda's military fired at a Congolese fighter jet that had violated their airspace for the third time recently. The DRC called the shooting ‘an act of war.’ This incident comes a week before Pope Francis is to make the first papal visit to Kinshasa since 1985. The Pope plans to shine a spotlight on the bloodshed of the conflict in eastern DRC, one of the world's most resource-rich yet conflict-ridden regions. On 15th January an improvised explosive device ripped through the congregation at a baptismal service conducted by a blind pastor. It severed limbs and killed at least 17 people. This attack in North Kivu province is just the latest terrorist outrage in the DRC by the Allied Democratic Forces, one of the most dangerous of dozens of armed groups in eastern DRC. As well as physical injuries, terrorist violence has left DRC Christians suffering serious emotional trauma.
A Christian mental health group urges believers to pray for children and teenagers, after NHS data revealed a 39% increase of referrals of under 18s for serious mental health issues such as eating disorders. The youth and student co-ordinator at a Christian charity supporting people's mental wellbeing said the lockdowns are one of the contributors for the rise in referrals and ‘What we're seeing now is the result of what we went through two years ago. If you put yourself in a young person's shoes, that was not the normal stage of life. There are stories already coming out of young people not eating as much and lying to their parents about how much they've eaten.” Also pray for young people as they attend school. This year is a massive stress for those doing GCSEs having already missed two years of education.
Despite MPs having voted overwhelmingly to reject measures to legalise assisted dying in 2015, and in 2021, due to mass opposition from fellow Peers, activists are again pushing for the law to allow doctors to ‘help’ terminally ill patients end their lives. Ahead of the pending debate, MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee in Parliament are now conducting an inquiry, asking for the views of the general public into assisted dying/assisted suicide, to help shape their recommendations to Government, regardless of what, up to now, has been a clear and settled opposition to any such proposal. This debate will not go away until activists get what they want. Like water dripping relentlessly on a stone, after each defeat the campaigners return, with the same demands. The Bible says life is the gift of God for man made in His own image.
Following the instalment of the most religious and hard-line government in Israeli history, over 80,000 protesters rallied in Tel Aviv against plans by the new right-wing coalition to overhaul the judiciary. The reforms will make it easier for parliament to overturn Supreme Court rulings, among other things, and protesters said changes are an attack on democratic rule. Rallies were also held outside the prime minister's Jerusalem residence and the northern city of Haifa. Critics say the reforms would cripple judicial independence, foster corruption, set back minority rights and deprive Israel's court system of credibility. If it passes into law, the plan could make it easier for the government to legislate in favour of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank without worrying about challenges in the Supreme Court. Israel has previously highlighted the power of the court to rule against it, as a way of blunting international criticism of such moves.
Foreign ministers from Turkey, Syria, and Russia may meet this month in the highest-level talks since Syria’s war began. Turkey supported Syria’s opposition for 10 years, Russia backed Syria. But sadly, diplomacy remains disconnected from the people’s needs. The UN calls Syria ‘one of the most complex humanitarian and protection emergencies on the planet.’ Extreme poverty haunts nearly every household, and disease runs rampant. Fighting has lessened but shows no signs of completely stopping. It would be easy if just two factions were fighting, but Turkey is in the mix with Iran and rebel Kurds. Physical danger is a minor threat compared to economic challenges. A pound of sugar is over £2.87. Rising prices make it unbearable for people to live yet hope remains. Many Christians fled during the crisis, but those remaining are committed to reaching their communities for Christ.
This week the Conservative and Labour Party Leaders delivered speeches with their ideas and policies to tackle the challenges we face. Both agree that only through change will we restore hope and progress. Every new leader has bold ambitions to change the country, then they realise they are not fully in control. What a contrast to biblical hope, which is not uncertain, but solid, sure and reliable. This hope is the hope of glory to come. We live praying for improvements and policies that will uphold the most vulnerable in our society; but we do not depend on that; our happiness is not based on it. We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:12), and our hope is stored up in heaven (1 Peter 1:3). Whatever is achieved over the next 18 months, we can be thankful to God that we are looking forward to a city whose foundations can never be shaken.
‘There is no time to wait, this is genocide’, said Dr Sukhudyan, describing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked enclave between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Deadly battles between Armenians and Azerbaijanis have previously raged there. Armenia is the world's first official Christian country, and 120,000 Christians live in the enclave. The road to it was protected by Russian peacekeepers, but on 12 December Azerbaijani protesters blocked it, preventing food, medicine, and other basic transport in or out. Now this ongoing dispute - in light of the past genocidal horrors - has human rights groups deeply concerned about what is to come. The minister of state for Nagorno-Karabakh said this is probably the prelude to an Azerbaijani armed attack, and if Russia does not step in, Armenia is not strong enough to stop them conquering the region. There will be massacres, with the oldest churches in the world possibly destroyed.