Archives For terrorism

Supreme Court will hear funeral home case
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will consider whether the country’s job discrimination laws apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. One case they’ll hear concerns a Michigan funeral home sued after firing a transgender employee.

Easter marked by mourning in Sri Lanka
Almost 300 people were killed and hundreds more injured in a series of suicide bombings in Sri Lankan churches and hotels. While no group has yet taken responsibility for the attacks, officials were warned churches could be targeted by a radical Islamist group, Christianity Today reported.

The nation of 21 million people is on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List, which profiles the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians.

Sovereign Grace responds to renewed calls for investigation
A network of churches headquartered in Louisville, Ky., said last week that an outside investigation into whether church leaders covered up sexual abuse would represent a “theological capitulation” that “would ultimately dishonor Christ and harm the cause of the gospel.”

Sovereign Grace Louisville, one of 72 churches in the evangelical network, was referenced by Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear in a February report in which he called on the SBC Executive Committee to consider whether 10 churches had dealt appropriately with allegations of sexual abuse. The bylaws workgroup of the Executive Committee later reported that the Sovereign Grace matter merited further inquiry.

Two Southern Baptist seminary presidents have apologized for their support of C.J. Mahaney, former president of the network and current lead pastor of Sovereign Grace Lousiville.

Church membership down nationwide
Half of American adults are members of a church, according to new data from Gallup. The percentage is 20 points lower than it was 20 years ago, and mirrors the trend toward non-affiliation with a religion. Twenty years ago, 8% of Americans said they had no religion, Gallup reported, but the current share is 19%.

Annual study details Americans’ relationship with the Bible
More U.S. adults are engaged with the Word of God, but fewer are Bible-centered, according to Barna’s 2019 State of the Bible survey. While 59% believe the message of the Bible has transformed their lives, 35% of adults report never using it.

Sources: USA Today, The Christian Post, Christianity Today (2), Open Doors USA, Gallup, Barna

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London | I went to Borough Market on a bright, sunny Friday in late September. The market, which has been in existence in one form or another for about 1,000 years, was filled with people going about their business. Vendor stalls were piled high with fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, cheeses, fish, and just about anything else you might want to eat. Surrounding the market stalls, the streets were lined with cake shops, restaurants, and pubs. People were enjoying delicious food, celebrating special occasions, and simply having a good time.

I’m sure the scene was much the same that warm Saturday night in early June as people dined in the restaurants and pubs. The vendor stalls would have been closed for the evening, but there was still plenty of food to enjoy and fun to be had. At least until three terrorists plowed a van into people walking on nearby London Bridge, then jumped out of the van, running to the market area, and into the restaurants where they began stabbing people with knives intent on killing them. As they did this, eyewitnesses reported one of the terrorists cried, “This is for Allah!” The terrorists killed seven and injured 48.

London prides itself on being a multicultural city — 37% of its residents come from outside the United Kingdom and one-quarter of its population arrived within the last five years. At least 45% of the population has no religious affiliation. Many Brits view Christianity as “been there, done that.”

The June 3 attacks on London Bridge and in Borough Market, the May 23 Manchester suicide bomber, and the March 22 Westminster bridge attack highlight the need for Christ, not only in London, but the rest of England. The International Mission Board is building missional communities in London using the 280 Tube (underground subway) stops as hubs to organize these communities around.

Still others are working in immigrant communities with Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. These communities isolate themselves keeping their customs and religions. There is a very real danger for those missionaries and those who convert to Christ.

Pray for the English people, that as a nation they will turn back to Christ, reviving their strong Christian heritage. Pray also that immigrants, first, second, and third generations — will find true freedom in Christ. The deception and oppression they endured in their home countries has traveled with them and is spreading. The only way to stop it is the through the Truth of Christ.

Last fall, Lisa Misner Sergent visited London to learn about the International Mission Board’s new strategies.

The Briefing

Illinois family killed in ISIS attack in Egypt
An Illinois man and several of his relatives, including two sons and a grandchild, were among 29 killed during an ISIS attack on a church bus in Egypt. Family members say the bus was full of Christians on their way to a remote Egyptian monastery when they were attacked by members of the Islamic state.

Illinois House approves transgender ID change bill
The Illinois House has endorsed a plan to make it easier for transgender people to change their birth certificates. The bill would allow transgender citizens to change their gender designation with authorization from a medical professional confirming they have undergone medically appropriate treatment. Current law requires proof of a surgical operation.

Evidence against Planned Parenthood disappears from YouTube
Last week, lawyers for The Center for Medical Progress released more footage of abortionists discussing late-term abortions at National Abortion Federation conventions. The video, along with other footage under temporary injunction after a civil suit filed by the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and Planned Parenthood, disappeared from YouTube after U.S. District Judge William Orrick ordered it taken down.

TX governor signs bill to ‘shield’ pastors’ sermons
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed legislation that prohibits Texas government agencies from subpoenaing the sermons of religious leaders. Four of the five Houston pastors whose sermons became the target of a sweeping 2014 subpoena “fishing expedition” by City of Houston attorneys and then-Mayor Annise Parker joined the signing ceremony.

Christian school bans pregnant teen from graduation
Despite a public outcry and growing pressure from national antiabortion groups to reconsider, Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland says that senior Maddi Runkles broke the school’s rules by engaging in intimate sexual activity. In a letter to parents Tuesday evening, school principal David R. Hobbs said that Runkles is being disciplined, “not because she is pregnant but because she was immoral. … The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her morality that began this situation.”

Sources: News Channel 20, US News, Baptist Press, World Magazine, Washington Post

The Briefing50+ Olympians connected to Illinois to watch in Rio
The Tribune is tracking more than 50 Olympic athletes with Illinois connections competing in Rio. The great majority, 67%, are competing for Team USA, with Canada, Jamaica and Nigeria each represented by two athletes with local ties. Twenty of the athletes are competing in track and field events, eight in swimming, seven in basketball and five in gymnastics.

Religious accommodations at the Rio Olympics
At the Rio Olympics, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism are each represented by four chaplains, while four Roman Catholic chaplains and four Protestant chaplains are present to serve the needs of Christian athletes. Each of the religions has their own worship space able to hold roughly 50 people at any time, with different spaces available for Muslim men and women, who frequently pray separately.

Pew: More sermons endorse Clinton
According to a new Pew Research survey, candidates come up most often in sermons at black churches, where 28% have heard their pastors praise Hillary Clinton and 20% have heard them oppose Donald Trump. Presidential talk was reported far less among white evangelical Protestants, 78% of whom say they’ll be voting for Trump in the fall. Just 2% of evangelicals heard a sermon endorsing him.

Human-animal chimera studies coming soon
The National Institutes of Health says that it will lift the ban that prevented researchers from creating human-animal chimeras with stem cells. It will put in place a review process that would require two types of chimera studies to get further review.

World Vision staffer accused of giving millions to Hamas
The manager of the Gaza branch of World Vision was charged by Israeli authorities with funneling millions of dollars to Hamas instead of to Palestinian children in need. Mohammad El Halabi, who has directed World Vision’s operations in the Gaza Strip since 2010, is accused of listing Hamas members as farmers with disabled children so they could receive assistance.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Christianity Today, Time, Christianity Today,

We all matter to God

As Americans we look forward to summer with excitement and nostalgia for summers’ past. For many, the summer of 2016 will be one they’ll most likely want to forget.

So far we’ve seen multiple terrorist attacks overseas and even in our own country, with the killing of 49 Americans in Orlando, FL in June. In the most recent attack in Nice, France, at least three Americans, including a father and son, were among the 84 people killed.

Our own country is also being torn apart from within by racial strife. The killings of two black men, one in Baton Rouge, LA, the other near Minneapolis, MN, by police. In seeming retaliation, five police officers were assassinated in Dallas, TX, followed just more than a week later, by the assassinations of three officers in Baton Rouge.

One of the Baton Rouge officers slain was Montrell Jackson, a 32-year-old who had been married only a few years and recently become a father. Jackson was also black.

The Washington Post reported his sister, Joycelyn Jackson, learned of her younger brother’s death while sitting in a Sunday worship service at her church. According to the Post, “She understands the anger behind the movement Black Lives Matter but that ‘God gives nobody the right to kill and take another person’s life…It’s coming to the point where no lives matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or whatever.’”

Jackson is expressing what many feel. As a society we argue over the semantics of whose lives matter, while the killing continues. It should hardly be a surprise that life has so little value in a culture where more than 56 million infants have been aborted since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that tightened abortion clinic standards. The ruling, which made access to abortion clinics in that state and others with similar laws even easier, was celebrated by many Americans.

As summer temperatures heat up, so are tensions. A spirit of evil and chaos seems to have taken hold. But we need not despair, God is with us and he is merciful and just.

Joycelyn Jackson knows this and so should we.  When the Post asked Jackson what she would say to her brother’s killer or anyone considering violence, she replied, “If I could say anything to anyone, it is to get their lives right with God. Hell is a horrible, horrible place to be.”

– LMS

The Briefing3 reasons evangelicals should care about Brexit
Although American evangelicals might think Brexit has little or no significance for them, the opposite is true. It shows we must find a way to mitigate the negative effects of globalization and trade on those who do not benefit. If we do not, we will be pouring gasoline on the fire of populist anger and passing up an evangelical opportunity to love our (populist) neighbor by helping find solutions to his very real problems.

Pew: Christians face more terrorism but less government hostility
From some angles, it looks like the beginning of a hopeful trend among the steady stream of persecution headlines. Both government and societal harassment of religion dropped worldwide in 2014, according to a recently released Pew Research Center study. This is the second year in a row that researchers found such a drop.

Court strikes down abortion provider regulations
In a 5-3 opinion, the Supreme Court ruled portions of a Texas law that regulate abortion doctors and clinics constitute an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to abort her child and are therefore unconstitutional. The high court’s reversal of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans invalidated a requirement an abortion clinic must meet the health and safety standards of other walk-in surgical centers.

Obama designates first national monument to gay rights
President Obama on Friday designated the first national monument to the gay rights movement, commemorating the Stonewall uprising in New York City. The site memorializes the six-day uprising that started after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-owned bar frequented by gay men.

California’s religious liberty moment—coming to a state near you
Many faith-based universities hold to the traditional Christian view that sex and gender are distinct and united. If SB 1146 is passed without amendment, the state of California would drastically limit the religious freedom of such institutions to believe and live according to these traditional beliefs. In other words, the “free exercise of religion” becomes meaningless or restricted to only those schools that train pastors for ministry.

Sources: BruceAshford.net, Christianity Today, Baptist Press,  Washington Post, Christianity Today

The BriefingGeorgia governor to veto pastor protection bill
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said he will veto legislation shielding opponents of same-sex marriage, after a groundswell of opposition from companies such as Coca-Cola, Disney, and the NFL threatening to boycott the state if it became law.

Crosby 3rd candidate for SBC president
Louisiana pastor David Crosby will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, former SBC President Fred Luter announced. During the 20 years Crosby has pastored First Baptist Church in New Orleans, the congregation has given between 7 and 15% of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, Luter said.

Indiana bans Down’s Syndrome abortions
Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a new pro-life bill into law that will, among other things, prevent the abortions of babies diagnosed with a disability or defect. “Some of my most precious moments as governor have been with families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome,” said Pence.

Suspects, arms seized after attack on Pakistani Christians kills 72
Security forces, hunting for suspects in the deadly Easter Sunday bombing targeting Christians in a Lahore park, raided locations in three cities overnight and arrested suspected terrorists. A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed more such attacks.

4 Wycliffe Associates Bible translators murdered
Four Wycliffe Associates workers have been killed in an attack by radicals in the organization’s office in the Middle East. Two of the Wycliffe workers were apparently killed by gunshots, while two others laid on top of the lead translator and died while “deflecting bludgeoning blows from the radicals’ spent weapons,” and managed to save his life.

Sources: Time, Baptist Press, MRCTV, CNN, Christian Post