Displaying items by tag: Religion
Girl Guides drops 'God' from campfire songs
Former DUP leader Arlene Foster has expressed ‘sadness’ that the Girl Guides organisation is to omit reference to God in campfire songs enjoyed by generations of girls. Girl Guides said the tradition of singing songs could have ‘references that have been hurtful to people’ and suggested groups could make changes ‘so everyone can join in’. The original version of Brownie Bells stated ‘Oh Lord, our God; Thy children call; Grant us thy peace; And bless us all; Goodnight.’ The altered version reads ‘Time for the end; our meeting’s past; Brownies is great; time flies so fast; Goodnight.’ A Christian Institute member said, ‘The Girl Guides and Scouts should remember that their founders, Robert Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes, were motivated by their faith. Erasing our traditions does not promote inclusion or diversity. Quite the opposite. I hope they reconsider this decision.’
Global: Ramadan starts 22nd March
Beginning at sundown on 22nd March over a billion Muslims around the world will abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex from dawn to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and one of the highest forms of Islamic worship. Abstinence from earthly pleasures and curbing evil intentions and desires is their act of obedience and submission to God and an atonement for sins, errors, and mistakes. Fasting is an act of faith and worship to increase their spiritual piety. Fasting together as a worldwide community (Ummah) affirms the brotherhood and equality of man before God. Throughout the day many go out of their way to help the needy, both financially and emotionally. Believing that a reward earned during this month is multiplied 70 times and more. For this reason, Ramadan is also known as the month of charity and generosity.
Turkey: active remnant church
The death toll is tens of thousands. The devastation and trauma is palpable, after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Turkey. Over several years, many foreign Christians have been expelled from Turkey. Most of those remaining are local Turkish believers, 0.5% of the population. Amid the suffering, Turkish Christians are helping one another and embracing Muslim neighbours with aid. In areas where rescue teams were slow to arrive, believers rushed in from other parts of Turkey to help. Their presence is opening doors to offer Gospel comfort. We pray for the grieving. We pray for the spiritually lost. Lord Jesus, break down deep-seated prejudices against Christianity. Move through your remnant church.
Saddleback Church in dispute over female pastor
America’s largest Protestant denomination is grappling with gender issues and politics. The recent Southern Baptist Convention expelled its largest and most prominent church, Saddleback Church in California, because it installed a woman pastor. Saddleback still operates as a church, and its members will not be overtly impacted. But Southern Baptist leadership’s ejection of such a high-profile member church underlines their struggles with gender, sexuality, abuse, politics and race, including criticisms from an energetic right flank that the group is drifting to the 'woke’ left. The convention also removed other churches over women holding certain leadership roles, and a Florida church over a sex abuse case. Saddleback was founded by pastor Rick Warren, who built a national profile thanks to the then innovative posture as ‘seeker-sensitive,’ attuned to those unfamiliar with, or wary of, traditional church experiences. He also wrote the best-selling book ‘The Purpose-Driven Life’.
Pray for church growth
‘History is made by the people of God, and as we move into this new season may they walk in divine dominion, ruling over their emotions, thoughts and words, so that in every circumstance they will flourish, under every pressure; they will be courageous, and in every victory they will honour God. We can pray for Him to birth a people who will move, not by might nor by power but by His Spirit - irrespective of age, irrespective of colour, irrespective of ethnicity. As they reconnect with the covenant call given to Abraham, ‘all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through them.’ Pray for the gospel of Jesus to be spoken with clarity, and that the demonstration of Kingdom power which is revealed will turn many to Jesus. May more people experience the power of God’s transforming love that releases God-given purposes for their lives.’
‘My faith makes me unfashionable’
Tory MP Danny Kruger, a Christian, says his faith makes him unfashionable and is likely to affect his political career. He grew up in an atheist home but 'always felt that wasn't adequate', and converted aged 28 after reading Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. The former political secretary to Boris Johnson said, ‘The religion of our culture at the moment, I'm afraid, is liberal individualism. It's not Christianity. I'm not part of the governing faith of our country at the moment.’ Kruger caused controversy by speaking out against abortion. He pointed out that ‘somewhere along the journey towards birth the foetus or baby acquires rights of its own’. Regarding assisted dying, he said, ‘If somebody is standing on the cliff edge or on a bridge intending to throw themselves off, we try to stop them. We don't say, ”It's your absolute autonomy to end your life”. We think that it's a bad move to commit suicide.’
Gender-neutral substitutes for God?
The Church of England is considering alternatives to referring to God as ‘he’ after some priests asked to be allowed to use gender-neutral terms instead. The Church is launching a new project on the matter in the spring to decide whether to propose changes or not. Any alterations would mark a departure from traditional Jewish and Christian teachings dating back millennia. The Rt Rev Dr Michael Ipgrave, vice-chair of the liturgical commission responsible for this, said the Church had been exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years. In common with other potential changes to authorised liturgical provision, changing the wording and number of authorised forms of absolution would require a full Synodical process for approval. It is unclear what would replace the term ‘Our Father’ in the Lord’s Prayer, the central Christian prayer which Jesus instructed his followers to say together down through the generations.
Sri Lanka: assault on pastor leads to charges against him
Pastor Tony investigated a noise outside his gate and was assaulted by two men with a shovel, demanding he stop his religious activities. He crawled back into the house, then the men began breaking windows and causing other damage. When his son heard the commotion and responded, he too was beaten and then hospitalised for three days. Police promised to arrest the attackers, but six days later they filed charges against the pastor for inciting the attack. Although the false charges were dropped, local officials sealed the family’s home and confiscated church property. The family and church members ask for prayers that they would be strengthened in their faith and be bold witnesses for Christ amid persecution from Buddhists and Hindus.
Christian teachers - strike?
In the latest round of industrial action over pay 85% of schools were affected by strikes. The Association of Christian Teachers say that Christians are called to follow God's will to seek justice and fairness and to respect and submit to earthly authorities, government and employers alike. The trade union movement has played a significant role in advocating for the rights and fair treatment of workers, many of whom historically were operating in dire conditions and barely making ends meet: a cause that is surely consistent with biblical teaching. Scriptures which speak about justice and righteousness and call on believers to work for justice and to care for the poor and marginalised are plentiful in both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah 1:17 says, ‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’
Myanmar: deadly new tactic in civil war
As Zin Nwe Phyo and her classmates settled down with their teachers, bullets and bombs hit the school and children ran outside to hide. ‘Soldiers fired right through the school walls, hitting the children,’ said one eyewitness. ‘Pieces flying out of the main building injured children in the next building. There were big holes blown out of the ground floor.’ Their attackers were Russian Mi-35 helicopter gunships carrying powerful rapid-fire cannon and rockets which destroy people, vehicles and most buildings. Since Myanmar's military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government, air strikes like this happen routinely in a civil war at a stalemate across much of the country. Zin Nwe Phyo and many others died that day. Resistance to military attacks on civilian targets has increased humanitarian needs and increased opportunities for Christian workers to share about Christ. Local missionaries care for children sheltering with them, opening the way to share the gospel with their parents.