Displaying items by tag: Religion
Over two millennia have passed since Jesus said ‘Go out and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame’ (Luke 14:2b). 39 million of the world's people are blind, 70 million are deaf. See In Victorian times some churchgoers gave to institutions that housed the disabled. Do we still see a disabled person as someone we do 'good things to' rather than teach, disciple and even allow to lead? When we see a disabled person in Christian ministry, do we see them as 'an inspiration' just because of their disability, or do we recognise them as a person gifted by God to minister? How welcoming are our churches to disabled people? Ask God to help us to include and disciple more people with disabilities just as much as anyone else. Pray for more churches to encourage and train disabled people into leadership roles.
The government wants a ban on 'conversion therapy' - a broad term covering encouragement to change or control sexual feelings or gender identity. Genuinely harmful therapies or practices are already illegal and / or not practised in the UK. A ban on legitimate talking therapies, pastoral support and prayer is what anti-'conversion therapy' campaigners want. The Christian Institute (CI) warned a House of Commons committee that any conversion therapy ban must be clearly defined, as activists want a broad ban encompassing Christian parenting, prayer, preaching and pastoral care. CI believe campaigners are attacking Christian beliefs and doctrine. It contends that if a church friend asks another to pray with them, or if a pastor teaches Christian sexual ethics from the Bible, or parents encourage children to follow them in their faith, it is not conversion therapy. Some want a ban which encapsulates those things. The consultation period ends on 10 December. All comments and suggestions will then be analysed for a spring 2022 draft bill. See
'We are living in a Christian land', declared one of the BBC’s founding figures at its launch. Broadcasting House, in London, was opened in 1932. Above the central archway in the entrance lobby was a large Latin inscription of their value statement: ‘This Temple of the Arts and Muses is dedicated to Almighty God by the first Governors of Broadcasting. It is their prayer that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace or purity may be banished from this house, and that the people, inclining their ear to whatsoever things are beautiful and honest and of good report, may tread the path of wisdom and uprightness.’ This inscription remains in the same place today, and the mission statement is as necessary and relevant as ever. May the BBC and all media outlets be reliable and honest sources of information. May truth be uppermost on all reporting, without speculation or opinions. Pray also for religious broadcasting and light entertainment.
Across the nations governments are planning how to respond to the new Omicron mutation. Pray according to 1 Timothy 2:1 for all who are in authority, so that we lead safe and peaceful lives. May our leaders' decisions and actions be in God’s will - not man’s opinions. May the media be prevented from exaggerating facts or promoting half-true opinions to gain attention. Father, let all that You desire for our governments and scientists to accomplish be done. Anoint every discussion on how to respond to Omicron with immunisations and health and safety bylaws with your wisdom and not out of panic. Do not allow politics to influence the governments’ coronavirus guidelines. Guide all research that is being done to both develop vaccines and medicines to treat those who are infected - and guard it from any big pharmacy companies' maneuverings or financial greed. We ask you for scientific breakthroughs that will bless the nations of the world.
The Church of England has released a Christmas single as part of a campaign to encourage more people to hear the real Christmas story through their local church. The single, a new carol version of In the Bleak Midwinter by one of the country’s top young composers, Rebecca Dale, will form the soundtrack to this year’s CofE Christmas campaign. It was released on all streaming platforms on Wednesday 1 December and can be downloaded online. All royalties from the digital streams and downloads of the track will be donated to charity, helping people experiencing homelessness in the UK. The Archbishop of Canterbury said that we often dress Christmas up with trimmings, but they are not the heart of Christmas. The only thing that makes Christmas perfect is Jesus, and the only thing we need to give him and each other is our hearts.
Former first minister Arlene Foster has spoken out against those who say that religion and politics should never mix. When speaking at the St Patrick Centre to a live audience, she discussed her own faith as well as her political career. Expressing her frustration she said, ‘Christianity doesn’t call you to be neutral. It calls you to be salt and light about what you believe in. It does annoy me when people say you have to take religion out of politics and leave it at the door, or like it only happens at the weekend. It is part of who you are. Your Christianity and your faith is something that is with you all the time. You can’t just leave it at home on Sunday night and go out without it on Monday.’
India has the second-largest Christian population in Asia, but a recent report states that over 300 attacks on Christians took place in the first nine months of 2021. 169 of them were in four states: BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, tribal-dominated Jharkhand, and BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. At least nine states have planned anti-conversion laws, including Chhattisgarh which has emerged as a ‘new laboratory’ for anti-Christian hatred in India. Over 1,000 people recently gathered for a Stop Religious Conversions rally - one in a series of events organised in the garb of anti-conversion protests. Addressing the gathering, a far-right Hindu leader urged the people to ‘arm themselves with axes to teach Christians indulging in conversions a lesson’.
Luka Binniyat, a Christian journalist, faces three years’ imprisonment after reporting on attacks against Christian communities and critical assessments of the government’s response. He was arrested on 4 November and charged with electronically transmitting information ‘known to be false’. Many believe his arrest is aimed at silencing dissenting voices and intimidating Luka and Kaduna communities. Luka has persistently challenged the government on issues of security and killings in southern Kaduna. This charge follows his report on police failing to make any arrests after gunmen killed 35 people in two separate attacks on churches. He said, ‘In Nigeria, police decry massacres as “wicked” but make no arrests’. Pray for Luka’s release and for an end to criminalisation of journalism. Meanwhile bandits invaded Emmanuel Baptist Church, service killing two, seriously injuring three, and kidnapping 66. Rev Joseph Hayab said, ‘The abducted worshippers are in danger and require urgent government intervention.’ The insecurity in Kaduna state has grown beyond imagination and is threatening Nigeria’s peace.
On 25 November prime minister Scott Morrison introduced a controversial Religious Discrimination Bill, which will allow faith-based organisations to prioritise hiring and enrolment of people from their faith. The bill, tabled just months before next year’s election, is seen as an attempt to woo votes from religious citizens, as Mr Morrison is a Pentecostal Christian. When introducing the bill to parliament, he said it would protect those who expressed their religious faith outside the workplace as long as it did not cause financial damage to their employer. ‘People should not be persecuted or vilified because their beliefs are different from someone else’s. Australians shouldn’t have to worry about offending an anonymous person on Twitter.’ The bill will be put to vote in the lower house next week, but is unlikely to pass into law before the elections.
Two Christian nurses accused of blasphemy received bail and were released from prison in September. The decision was kept secret for almost two months to avoid backlash from Islamists. Mariam Lal and Nawish Arooj were granted bail by a sessions court in Faisalabad. Those charged with blasphemy in Pakistan usually languish in jail for years until the appeals process is exhausted. This is an unprecedented decision by any sessions court in a blasphemy case. Both women are currently in a safe location. They are very happy and relieved after their release, and are optimistic that the court will absolve them of the charge once the trial concludes. In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Accusations are highly inflammatory and have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.