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Attack on church kills 14 in Burkina Faso
The president of a West African country condemned “the barbaric attack” on one of his nation’s churches Dec. 1. Christianity Today reports Islamic extremists have been active in Burkina Faso since 2015, recently striking in the eastern region of the country. At a church in Hantoukoura last Sunday, 14 people were killed and several others injured when gunmen opened fire during a worship service.

Christians in India face heightened persecution, restrictions on freedoms
An estimated 65 million Christians in India are being threatened with increased persecution for their faith, amid the rise of extreme Hindu nationalism. New security measures in the former Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir make it “nearly impossible” for Christian congregations to meet, Morning Star News reported. Nationwide, Christians were attacked in at least 24 of India’s 29 states in a two-year period ending in July, Aid to the Church in Need reported Nov. 14.

>Related: Persecution watchdog group Open Doors ranked India #10 on its 2019 World Watch List of the top countries for Christian persecution. “The view of the nationalists is that to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith—including Christianity—is considered non-Indian,” the organization said.

Muslim minorities held in Chinese camps
Around one million Muslims reportedly are being held in Chinese internment camps designed to make them loyal members of the Communist party. The Ethics and and Religious Liberty Commission has issued an explainer on the camps, which Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, has said are “created to wipe out the cultural and religious identity of minority communities.”

The ERLC has called for the U.S. government to hold China accountable for religious freedom abuses, including those against Muslims in the country.

>Related: China frees Christian prisoner amid ongoing persecution

Evangelical leader says faith and practice, not name, is what matters
Leith Anderson, retiring president of the National Association of Evangelicals, told Religion News Service he likes the word evangelical. “But if people want to abandon the term,” Anderson said last month, “let them abandon the term. That’s really not what matters. What really matters is their faith and their practice.”

Sources: Christianity Today, Baptist Press, Open Doors, ERLC, Religion News Service

Survey says conservatism is group’s top defining characteristic
New research from Barna found only 30% of Americans have a positive opinion of evangelicals, while 25% have a negative perception and 46% are neutral. When Barna asked respondents to identify adjectives that describe the evangelical community, the most commonly selected terms were “religiously conservative” and “politically conservative.” Those terms topped positive descriptors like caring, hopeful, and friendly, but also edged out adjectives like narrow-minded, homophobic, and puritanical.

Scripture on the campaign trail
Eight of the top 12 Democratic candidates for president have quoted the Bible while campaigning, Christianity Today reports, employing Scripture in their discussion of economic reform, welfare policy, and LGBT rights. The New International Version and New Revised Standard Version are the most quoted translations, but passages from the King James Version and New Living Translation also have been referenced in candidates’ talking points.

Jury sides with Planned Parenthood in undercover video case
Planned Parenthood was awarded $2.28 million Nov. 15 after a federal jury said pro-life investigators were guilty of fraud, trespassing, illegal recording, racketeering and breach of contract. The investigators secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood executives discussing their sell of fetal body parts, Baptist Press reported. “Whatever questions some may have about the legality of the recordings,” said Ethics & Religious Liberty President Russell Moore, “we should not forget what the recordings revealed: The cruelty, dishonesty, and lawlessness of Planned Parenthood.”

Opioid crisis hits churches
Just over half of Protestant pastors in the U.S. say a member of their congregation has personally been affected by opioid abuse, according to new data from LifeWay Research. “The drug epidemic has infiltrated our churches and neighborhoods,” said Robby Gallaty, author of a new book about his past struggles with addiction. “It is not localized to a particular region or socio-economic class. Addiction is no respecter of persons.”

‘Work was his ministry,’ says Mr. Rogers’s wife
Currently portrayed in the new film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” children’s television pioneer Fred Rogers was an evangelist to the people watching from home, his wife, Joanne, told The Christian Post. “That work was his ministry. There was never a time that he ever forgot that.”

>Related: Christian movie critic Phil Boatwright calls Rogers film ‘desperately needed for our times’

Sources: Barna, Christianity Today, Baptist Press, LifeWay Research, Christian Post

Restaurant chain announces plans to suspend giving to FCA, Salvation Army
Chick-Fil-A will no longer include Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Salvation Army in its charitable giving, President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told the website Bisnow Nov. 18. The change in strategy comes as the chain has been blocked from two U.S. airports for past giving to organizations with a biblical view of sexuality and marriage.

Beginning in 2020, the Chick-fil-A Foundation will focus on giving to a smaller number of organizations dedicated to education, combating youth homelessness, and reducing hunger. Tassopoulos, the current president and COO, told Bisnow that the foundation will be open to partnering with faith-based charities in the future, but that “none of the organizations have anti-LGBT positions.”

Conservative and Christian leaders expressed disappointment over Chick-Fil-A’s decision, including Wheaton College’s Ed Stetzer, who tweeted, “Biblical orthodoxy matters—and biblical orthodoxy increasingly has a cost in #America2019.”

Pastoral candidate withdraws name amid allegations of racism
Marcus Hayes, a candidate for the pastorate of First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., withdrew his name from consideration after the church narrowly voted not to call him—the result, some church leaders have said, of a campaign motivated by racial prejudice. Hayes, an African American, just failed to receive the 85% vote needed to call him as pastor.

Christianity Today reports the church’s executive pastor wrote in an open letter to the Southern Baptist Convention that there were “racial prejudices” behind the vote, and that the church had already begun “to make sure that this sinful cancer is dealt with.” First Baptist’s deacons have voted to remove from membership at least 18 people as an act of church discipline.

Letter: Patterson feared theological slide after historic election
A recently uncovered letter from former seminary president Paige Patterson reveals his doubts following the election of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first African American president. Religion News Service reports Patterson feared Fred Luter would fail to nominate future leaders of denominational boards and agencies who would continue the SBC’s conservative resurgence, a movement steered in part by Patterson.

>Related: Current Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd on diversity and inerrancy in the SBC

Evans is first African American to publish study Bible and commentary
With the release of the Tony Evans Study Bible this month, the pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas became the first African American to have both a study Bible and a full-Bible commentary with his name. Evans talked to Religion News Service about the commentary and issues of race and faith, including African presence in the Bible.

“What I want to say to African-Americans is if you see what’s really in the Bible, you can find yourself there,” he said. “You don’t have to lose yourself to believe in Jesus. In fact, much of who we are is in Jesus.”

Most Americans want religion out of politics
While a majority of Americans say churches and religious organizations do more good than harm in society, more than three-quarters say they’re losing influence in American life, according to Pew Research. And despite their positive influence, most Americans think churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters, and shouldn’t come out in favor of one candidate over another.

Sources: Christianity Today, Baptist Press, Religion News Service, Pew Research Center

Comedian cancels tour after harassment allegations
Netflix has postponed a special by Christian comedian John Crist in the aftermath of accusations of sexual harassment and manipulation by several women. Crist, who canceled his upcoming tour dates, responded to the allegations published by Charisma magazine. “While I am not guilty of everything I’ve been accused of, I confess to being guilty of this—I have treated relationships with women far too casually, in some cases even recklessly. My behavior has been destructive and sinful.”

Former Illinois pastor on administrative leave following accusations of pastoral abuse
A Tennessee church is no longer considering Wes Feltner for its senior pastor role, after the former pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur, Ill., was accused of pastoral abuse by two women who were students in his former youth ministry in Indiana.

Feltner is taking an administrative leave from a church he pastors in Minnesota, Baptist Press reports.

>Related: Longtime Chicago pastor resigns; sexual abuse prior to ministry among reasons

GLAAD pushes for more LGBTQ representation on TV
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) called on the television industry to ensure that 20% of series regular characters on primetime scripted series are LGBTQ by the year 2025. GLAAD cited an online survey indicating that one-fifth of Americans ages 18-34 identify as LGBT or other non-heterosexual, non-biological gender categories, The Christian Post reported. However, 2017 polling data by Gallup found about 8% of Millennials identify as LGBT.

Christian clinics to offer contraceptives to singles
A network of Christian women’s health centers in Texas will begin providing contraceptives to single women, according to the network’s Southern Baptist CEO.

“We have all come to the conclusion that the decision that is most in line with ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ is to give women a tool, education, and counseling that will help reduce unplanned pregnancies, therefore reduce abortions,” said Andy Schoonover, CEO of a group of clinics known as The Source. The clinics will offer contraceptive measures to married and single women, Baptist Press reports, but not abortifacients or abortions.

Sources: Christianity Today, Baptist Press, Illinois Baptist, Christian Post

Seminary president commits to lead toward unity if elected
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., will be nominated next June to serve as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Pastor H.B. Charles of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., announced he will nominate Mohler when the SBC meets June 9-10 in Orlando.

“All my life, I have sought to serve whenever asked by my denomination,” Mohler told Baptist Press, “and I would hope, if elected, to serve in a way that would unite Southern Baptists, strengthen our work together, add energy to our evangelism, and keep our hearts set on taking the gospel to the nations.”

Print shop owner prevails in court
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Oct. 31 in favor of Blaine Adamson, a print shop owner who was sued after refusing to print T-shirts for a gay pride festival.

In 2014, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission charged Adamson with violating the city’s fairness ordinance for refusing to print shirts requested by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO). The state’s Supreme Court ruled last week GLSO didn’t have standing to bring the challenge against Adamson’s Hands On Originals shop, giving the printer his third legal victory.

White appointed to oversee Trump administration’s faith outreach
Florida televangelist Paula White has been named to an official White House position, Christianity Today reports. White, often associated with the prosperity gospel, has been an influential and controversial figure in President Trump’s group of evangelical advisors.

MacDonald disqualified by elders at his former church
The elders of Harvest Bible Chapel formally disqualified founding pastor James MacDonald from ministry Nov. 3, stating that his actions do not meet Scriptural requirements to be an elder. MacDonald was terminated from the church in February, but the elders said they wanted to give clarity to members of the church and people familiar with MacDonald’s teaching ministry.

The elders noted MacDonald’s “pattern of improperly exercising his positional and spiritual authority over others to his own advantage,” as well as “behavior and language [which] indicated that he thought of himself more highly than he should as evidenced by his pattern of insulting, belittling, and verbally bullying others.”

Most young adults say society is in a leadership crisis
Barna reports 82% of young adults say there aren’t enough good leaders right now, leading to a crisis of leadership. And half say the biggest obstacle to leadership in society today is that everyone is too busy and distracted.

Sources: Baptist Press, Christianity Today, Christian Post, Barna

17% of Americans describe their religion as ‘nothing in particular’
Pew Forum reports a majority of Americans still call themselves Christians, but the number has decreased 12 percentage points over the last decade. And while the number of both Protestants and Catholics decreased, those unaffiliated with a religion grew as a share of the population—up from 12% in 2009 to 17% now.

Pew also reported worship attendance is down. The number of Americans who attend religious services at least twice a month fell 7 percentage points over the last decade, while the number who say they attend less often rose by the same amount.

Metro East abortion clinic opening met with protests
Pro-life advocates held signs, prayed, and sang “Amazing Grace” during an Oct. 21 ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Planned Parenthood facility in Fairview Heights, Ill. The clinic expects to serve as many as 11,000 clients a year and could serve as a regional center for abortion, as neighboring states tighten restrictions on abortion.

Liberty professor to join Baptist seminary faculty
Karen Swallow Prior will move from Liberty University to Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., next fall. The author and English professor, who has also been an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse, will become Southeastern’s research professor of English and Christianity & Culture. Southeastern President Danny Akin called Prior “a gifted teacher in the field of English and literature who loves Christ, the gospel and the Great Commission.”

Sheriff posts signs to protect kids on Halloween
Georgia sheriff Gary Long went to court Oct. 24 to defend his decision to post signs outside the homes of sex offenders warning potential trick-or-treaters not to approach. Long posted the signs last Halloween, and is trying to do so again this year, amid a legal challenge from three registered sex offenders. “Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday,” Long posted on Facebook, “I WILL do everything within the letter of the law to protect the children of this community.”

Barna: Screen time far outpaces spiritual content
A typical 15- to 23-year-old spends 153 hours a year taking in spiritual content, Barna reports, and the number rises to 291 hours for churchgoers. But both figures are dwarfed by the amount of time young people spend using screen media—2,767 hours a year, or about 7.5 a day. The numbers have ramifications for pastors, parents, and young people, said Barna president David Kinnaman.

“If we want to follow Jesus with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, all of us in modern exile must consider the total input and output of our faith,” Kinnaman said. The input can’t simply be a few hundred hours of passive church attendance in a year.”

Sources: Pew Forum, Illinois Baptist, The New York Times, Christianity Today, Baptist Press, Barna Research

John MacArthur tells Beth Moore to ‘go home’
At an event celebrating his 50 years in ministry, California pastor John MacArthur jabbed at Bible teacher Beth Moore and others, igniting a Twitter firestorm and continuing the debate on gender roles in church leadership. “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion,” MacArthur said during a word association game in which he was asked to respond to the phrase “Beth Moore.” MacArthur’s first response was also two words: “Go home.”

Many Christian leaders came to Moore’s defense on Twitter, while others expressed support for MacArthur’s position. Moore appeared to respond with a pair of tweets Oct. 21. “Here’s the beautiful thing about it & I mean this with absolute respect,” she wrote. “You don’t have to let me serve you. That gets to be your choice. Whether or not I serve Jesus is not up to you. Whether I serve you certainly is. One way or the other, I esteem you as my sibling in Christ.”

Mohler: Complementarianism ‘can and has’ led to abuse
Southern Seminary President Al Mohler acknowledged in a chapel address that complementarian theology—the view that men and women have different but complementary roles in church and family life—can lead to abuse of women and girls, and has done so at times. “Sinful men will use anything in vanity and in anger, in sin of every form,” Mohler said Oct. 15. “Sinful men will distort anything and will take advantage of any argument that seems to their advantage, even to the abuse of women.”

  • Related: Southern Baptist church leaders met this month in Dallas for the Caring Well Conference, an event designed to train churches to prevent sexual abuse and care well for survivors.

California requires state schools to provide medical abortions to students
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Oct. 11 that will require the 34 schools in the University of California and California State University systems to provide access to prescription pills that induce miscarriage within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, the Los Angeles Times reported. The cost of the new initiative is likely to exceed what has been raised through private donations, WORLD magazine reported, meaning taxpayers and students could underwrite the remaining costs.

Lon Allison remembered for commitment to evangelism
Pastor Lon Allison, former executive director of Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center, died Oct. 20 after a nearly 2-year battle with cancer. Allison also served as teaching pastor at Wheaton Bible Church. “Lon reflected God’s (and Mr. Graham’s) heart for our world,” wrote current Graham Center Executive Director Ed Stetzer, “and continually reminded all of us that we too are part of God’s plan for the salvation of the world.”

Young adults are connected, but still seeking meaningful relationships
A survey of 18—35-year-olds around the world found young adults feel connected to global events, but are less sure that the people around them care for and believe in them. Barna’s survey found only 33% of young adults often feel deeply cared for by those around them, and 23% sometimes feel lonely or isolated. The numbers are slightly more encouraging for young adults who belong to a religious tradition.

Sources: Religion News Service, Twitter, Christian Post, Illinois Baptist, Los Angeles Times, WORLD, Christianity Today, Barna