Archives For terrorism

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