Archives For terrorism

The BriefingNY Times interviews SBC President on race & reconciliation
The New York Times interviewed Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and National Baptist Convention USA President Jerry Young about their public conversation late last year on racial reconciliation in Jackson, Miss.

Evangelicals for Life Conf. bolsters ‘burden’ for unborn
The first Evangelicals for Life conference, co-sponsored by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Focus on the Family, set out to increase participation by evangelicals in the annual March for Life on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The predominantly young audience arrived days ahead of the march (and winter storm Jonas) to select from presentations by nearly 40 evangelical pro-life leaders who taught how to extend their influence with a broader, more diverse base of support.

Terrorists kill 7 missionaries in Burkina Faso
The director of an orphanage and six others were among 28 people killed in an attack by Al Qaeda-linked militants in Burkina Faso. American Michael Riddering and his wife, Amy, had served with the missions group Sheltering Wings in the West African nation since 2011. The other six killed were Canadians on three-week mission trip. Also that day, two missionaries from Australia were kidnapped.

0.0% of Icelanders under 25 believe God created the world
Less than half of Icelanders claim they are religious and more than 40% of young Icelanders identify as atheist. Remarkably the poll failed to find young Icelanders who accept the creation story of the Bible. 93.9% of Icelanders younger than 25 believed the world was created in the big bang, 6.1% either had no opinion or thought it had come into existence through some other means and 0.0% believed it had been created by God.

Study: monthly porn exposure the norm for teens
Half of teenagers and nearly three-quarters of young adults come across pornography at least monthly, and both groups on average consider viewing pornographic images less immoral than failing to recycle. The new study by Josh McDowell Ministry and the Barna Group also found porn use is on the rise among young women and that 14 percent of senior pastors surveyed “currently struggle with using porn.”

Sources: Baptist Press, Christianity Today, Facts & Trends, Iceland Magazine

The BriefingIllinois to stop accepting Syrian refugees

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has temporarily suspended programs to resettle Syrian refugees in the state. Rauner cited the recent terror attacks in Paris as the reason for his action. In a statement he said,” We must find a way to balance our tradition as a state welcoming of refugees while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens.”

Pastor Saeed’s wife halts public advocacy, cites marital woes and abuse

Naghmeh Abedini appeared at the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference where she urged prayer for the release of her husband Saeed, an Iranian-American imprisoned in Iran for his Christian beliefs. Abedini recently shocked supporters announcing she was stepping back from her public advocacy due to “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse (through Saeed’s addiction to pornography).” Abedini said she will withdraw from public life for a time of prayer and rest.

‘Death, pain & terror’ in Paris met by prayer, hope

“Are the French people hurting? Without a doubt,” Michael Harrington, a Baptist worker in France, said after the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris. “Many will find their loved ones home and safe, but there are over 300 people that are not home, nor safe. Our hearts hurt. Our colleagues in the French Baptist Federation expressed solidarity in the face of hurt, pleading adherence to 1 Timothy 2:1-8, which calls for petitions, prayers and intercession.”

Mattel features boy in Barbie ad

In a new Mattel commercial, a mohawk wearing boy places a purse on the arm of a Barbie doll while sounding like a fashionista saying, “Moschino Barbie is so fierce!” Progressives are hailing the commercial for the designer doll as a step forward, while others are saying the commercial is over the top and wondering if it is real.

LifeWay reopens search for new headquarters

LifeWay Christian Resources is stepping away from the purchase of a 1.5-acre site in downtown Nashville, President Thom Rainer said Nov. 16. Rainer stated the entity has come to the conclusion there are “other potential downtown properties that are a better fit for LifeWay’s future.” LifeWay does intend to complete the sale of its 14.5-acre campus, also located in downtown Nashville.

Sources: Baptist Press. CBS Chicago, Christianity Today, New York Post

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The uproar over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act continued as lawmakers introduced changes to the bill that opponents say put business owners at risk to be forced to compromise their beliefs.

The original RFRA, signed into law March 26 by Gov. Mike Pence, came under national fire from corporations, celebrities, and others who said it would allow discrimination against gay people. Supporters of the law said it would protect the religious liberty of business owners by shielding them from government action if they refused to provide services for same-sex weddings.

The_BriefingThe changes to the law, signed by Pence one week after he approved the original RFRA, say “no member of the public may be refused services by a private business based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Baptist Press reports.

The controversy, wrote Philip Bethancourt of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has served to make religious liberty “a new culture war wedge issue.”

“One indication of this change is the frequent use of ‘religious freedom’ in scare quotes, suggesting that it is merely a cover for something more malicious,” Bethancourt wrote on “Danger arises when our first freedom becomes a second-class culture war issue.”

Christians in Kenya grieved on Easter Sunday for 148 people killed at a university last week by terror group al-Shabaab. The Associated Press reported on the Easter service at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Garissa, where Bishop Joseph Allessandro said, “We join the sufferings of the relatives and the victims with the sufferings of Jesus. The victims will rise again with Christ.”

During the April 2 terror attack at Garissa University College, the shooters separated Christian students from Muslims and killed the Christians, AP reported.

What do Americans believe about Jesus? According to new research by Barna, most say he was a real person, a little over half believe he was God, and 62% say they have made a personal commitment to him that is still important in their life today.

And what about the church? LifeWay Research found that while 55% of Americans say the church in America is declining, 65% believe attendance is admirable.

More interesting research: Pew says current trends forecast that Muslims will almost equal Christians in number by 2050, and the global percentage of “nones” who have no religious affiliation will actually decrease.

“We’ve got a long way to go” on race relations, said Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore at a March summit on racial reconciliation and the gospel. “Our sin keeps wanting us to divide up. But to the faithful, Jesus promises, ‘You will be called overcomers.’” Read the Illinois Baptist‘s coverage of the summit here at

Did you catch the premiere episode of “A.D.: The Bible Continues” on Sunday? Christianity Today is recapping each installment of the new miniseries produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, which details the history of the early church following Jesus’ death and resurrection.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

International Mission Board workers called for prayer in the wake of devastating terrorist attacks in France, Baptist Press reports. “There exists today a delicate tension in France that teeters toward breaking, and [Wednesday’s] tragic events will likely serve to further stir up the tension,” said Mark Stone, a church planter in southern France. The outbreak of violence started Jan. 7 with a shooting that left 12 people dead at the headquarters of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

“We are praying that the outcry against these heinous acts committed by religious extremists will not become outcries against anyone who claims to have any sort of religious belief,” IMB worker Tara Chaney told Baptist Press.

“Right now, we are praying that the people of France will turn toward God and not away from Him.”

The_BriefingThe Muslim actor who will play Jesus in an upcoming National Geographic Channel said he didn’t believe Jesus would judge him for playing the part. “I cannot speak for Jesus, but I can quote his teachings and He said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,'” Haaz Sleiman told Entertainment Weekly. “…How would He react to me playing Jesus? He wouldn’t judge it. He wouldn’t judge His own enemy…playing this part highlights His teaching in a very nice way.”

Sleiman will portray Christ in “Killing Jesus,” a miniseries based on a book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Read the full story at

North Korea is atop Open Doors’ annual World Watch List for the 13th consecutive year, followed by Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The list tracks the countries “where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian.”

“Under no circumstances have I been discriminatory or hateful towards any member of the department in the LGBT community or a member of the LGBT community at large,” former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran told Baptist Press Jan. 6. Cochran was fired after an investigation into his self-published book which briefly mentions homosexuality as an immoral behavior, BP reports. Cochran teaches Sunday school and serves as a deacon at Elizabeth Baptist Church, which is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Where do the majority of Congressional representatives fall, faith-wise? Pew Research breaks down the religious makeup of the current U.S. Congress in this full report.

Wondering what else happened in Louis Zamperini’s life that didn’t make it into the recently released feature film Unbroken? Check out this half-hour documentary from the Bill Graham Evangelistic Association about the war hero’s conversion to Christianity.

We’ll give this a few weeks to see how it checks out: LifeWay Research recently found only 15% of churchgoers said they would skip worship to watch their favorite football team.



One in five Americans reported experiencing a mental illness in a single year; one in 10 takes an antidepressant.

One in five Americans reported experiencing a mental illness in a single year; one in 10 takes an antidepressant.

“…The day that I’d prayed would never happen, happened.”

In an interview last month with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Rick Warren recalled standing with his wife, Kay, in their son’s driveway in April, waiting for police to confirm their worst fears – Matthew, 27, had committed suicide after a long struggle with mental illness.

“We were sobbing. We were just sobbing,” Warren said.

The interview was the Warrens’ first since their son’s death, but the couple has been vocal on social media and from Saddleback’s pulpit about Matthew’s life and their grief. They’re also speaking out about the long-held stigma against mental illness in the church.

“It’s amazing to me that any other organ in your body can break down and there’s no shame and stigma to it,” Warren said in his first sermon back at Saddleback after a leave of absence. “But if your brain breaks down, you’re supposed to keep it a secret. …If your brain doesn’t work right, why should you be ashamed of that?”

Following Matthew Warren’s death, his parents created a fund in his name, in part to help develop resources for churches to use as they reach out to struggling families in the community and in the congregation.

There are many people in churches suffering from mental health issues, says Hal Trovillion, a former counselor and current pastor of First Baptist Church in Manteno, Ill. “The thing is that those people tend to feel as though others look at them badly, because of whatever their situation,” he says.

“The church needs to just turn that around. What many of them need is simply love and acceptance and a welcoming heart and help to deal with the issues at hand.”

Read the full cover story from latest issue of the Illinois Baptist and access the e-reader edition here.

Wife of Amish schoolhouse shooter shares hope in new book

Marie Monville’s quiet life crumbled violently in 2006, when her husband shot 10 young girls in an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Her new book, “One Light Still Shines,” tells her story since that day, with a focus on how God sustained her family.

“Within the eye of the storm, the presence of God came and settled upon me,” Monville writes on her blog, “Although I ‘knew’ God all my life, this moment of desperation propelled me to now KNOW him like never before.”

“One Light Still Shines” was released Monday, September 30, by Zondervan. Read more about on CNN’s Belief blog.

Missionary family trapped in Kenyan mall during terrorist attack

When terrorists seized a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 21, a Southern Baptist missionary couple and their five children were inside. Baptist Press reports International Mission Board missionaries Chris and Jamie Suel and their kids had walked into Westgate Shopping Mall shortly before the terrorists. The Suels separated to shop before the attack began, and were reunited after five harrowing hours. The seige lasted three days and resulted in as many as 200 deaths. Read more at

Jewish prayer book believed to be oldest ever found

The Green Collection, a biblical archive headed by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green, has identified what their scholars say is likely “the oldest Jewish prayer book ever found.” The manuscript is dated circa 840 C.E. and is in its original binding, the Green Collection reported in a press release. The prayer book will eventually be displayed at a Bible museum in Washington, D.C., scheduled to open in 2017. Read more at


Are you religious, spiritual or secular? College students weigh in

A new study found college students are pretty evenly divided on how they describe themselves spiritually, reports. The email survey was conducted by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.), whose researchers asked: “In general, would you describe yourself more as a religious, spiritual or secular person?” 32.4% answered “spiritual;” 31.8% said “religious;” and 28.2% identified themselves as “secular.”

The research is based on the responses of 1,873 students representing 27 states and 38 colleges. Read the full story at

President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress to discuss Syria in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Sept. 3. White House photo by Pete Souza.

President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress to discuss Syria in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Sept. 3. White House photo by Pete Souza

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

(From Baptist Press) President Barack Obama is poised to address the nation tonight about why he believes U.S. forces should intervene in Syria, currently entrenched in a civil war that has reportedly killed more than 100,000 people since 2011. The President’s appeal to the public and to U.S. lawmakers (expected to vote on military action as early as Wednesday) is primarily the result of a chemical assault on civilians that U.S. intelligence has linked to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The gas attack August 21 killed more than 1,400 people.

“This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security,” Obama said late last month.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, agreed in a recent Religion News Service article that Assad’s regime is “lawless and tyrranical” and that there is just cause for war.

“That said, there are other principles missing here, both to justify action morally and to justify it prudentially,” Moore added. He used points from just war theory, which dates back to the fourth century, to support his position against U.S. intervention in Syria.

Read more about the just war ethic at

“I do not see, from President Obama, a reasonable opportunity to prevail, or even a definition of what prevailaing would mean.

“Regime change is not the point of this action, and even if it were, we don’t yet know who the good guys are. Replacing one set of terrorists with another does not bring about justice or peace.”

Daniel Heimbach, a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, also disagrees with the President’s plan, but said the U.S. lacks a basis for intervening “in the internal affairs of a distinctly sovereign and separate state.”

He also noted, “The meaning and interpretation of a just cause for war (in a just war ethic) requires the nation being attacked (Syria) to have done, or to be doing, or to be moving toward doing some terrible wrong toward the attacking nation (United States) – not merely doing something bad within their own borders against their own people.”

The U.S. Senate may vote on Obama’s proposal for action against Syria as early as Wednesday of this week, and the House could consider it next week, according to Fox News.

Baptist aid organization helps Syrian refugees

Southern Baptist relief efforts are touching lives in significant ways as an estimated 2 million refugees have fled Syria for neighboring countries. BGR photo

Southern Baptist relief efforts are touching lives in significant ways as an estimated 2 million refugees have fled Syria for neighboring countries. BGR photo

(From Baptist Global Response) The civil war in Syria has displaced more than 5 million people either outside or inside the country, said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response (BGR).

“The majority of Syrian refugees are women and children and a few older men,” Palmer said. “Husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles stayed behind to protect their precious resources – unfortunately, many times in vain. They were so thankful for the small amount of help we gave them. We promised we would be back the following week with more.”

For more than a year, BGR has assisted the refugees through emergency food packets, hygiene kits, basic shelter materials and some medicines.

While an estimated 2 million refugees have fled Syria for neighboring countries, the prospect of Western powers entering the conflict has dramatically increased the outflow in recent days, Palmer noted.

Americans place terrorism prevention high on list of national priorities
A new survey by Barna released just before the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks found a high majority of Americans believe preventing terrorism is as important or more important than healthcare, the break-up of the family, education, unemployment, and immigration.

The survey also found members of the millennial generation, who were children and teens on 9/11, “are among the most likely to prioritize preventing terrorism above other social concerns.”

For more Barna findings, including a comparison of the emotions people associate with 9/11 and the recent Boston Marathon bombings, go to