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The Stream: An Iranian activist group asked an American journalist to participate in a conference critical of the U.S. and Israel, part of the enlistment of American thinkers willing to join Iran’s propaganda campaign.
The New York Times: The arrest on Saturday of a Queens college student on charges of conspiring with the Islamic State is just the most recent example of the group’s global strategy, which began about one year ago and has resulted in attacks or arrests in more than a dozen countries.
The New York Times: According to the prisoners’ rights group Freedom for the Brave, 163 people have been forcibly disappeared in Egypt since April.
Christian News Network: The barbaric Islamic group ISIS has kidnapped 86 Eritrean refugees from Libya, the majority of whom are believed to be Christians or of other non-Muslim religious beliefs.
Christian News Network (Morning Star News): The widow of a Christian shot to death by suspected hard-line Muslims in eastern Uganda fears for her life after receiving several death threats, she said.
Christianity Today: ‘Tell them that we Christians exist. We are the bridge between East and West,” said Felomain Nassar-Batshone, program manager, at International Orthodox Christian Charities, Amman, Jordan.
Christian Today: Islam will reportedly become the world’s largest religion 55 years from now based on recent projections, but the barbarous practices of the Islamic State could undermine the growth of the world’s Muslim population, experts said.
Christianity Today: In March, Nigerians elected two-time runner-up Muhammadu Buhari as the country’s next president. A Muslim from northern Nigeria, Buhari was nevertheless endorsed by many Christians, who hope he will be more effective than his predecessor at defeating Boko Haram, the brutal Islamist organization.
The Christian Institute: The Church is facing “an ever increasing intolerance”, the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has said, as he called for Christians to speak out boldly in the public square.
Christianity Today: Christian educators in Israel say their 48 high-achieving primary and secondary schools may be forced to close due to funding discrimination by the state’s Ministry of Education.
USCIRF: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns the continuing prosecution of Rev. Yat Michael and Rev. Peter Reith who face the death penalty if convicted on the baseless charges of undermining Sudan’s constitution and waging war against the state.
Christian Today: At least 95 schools in northern Kenya have been forced to close after teachers, many of whom are Christians, refused to work fearing attacks from Islamist militant group al-Shabaab.
Ecumenical News: The Malaysian church which took down its cross in April after Muslim protesters pressured it to do so has vowed to put the symbol back on its building.
Malaymail Online: There is more freedom of religion in Malaysia compared to Singapore and the United States, both of which imposes stricter laws against various faiths, a prominent Christian preacher said today.
Fox News: Iran’s revolutionary court imposed harsh prison sentences last week on 18 Christian converts for charges including evangelism, propaganda against the regime, and creating house churches to practice their faith, according to sources with knowledge of the Islamic Republic’s secretive judicial system.
Christianity Today: What do Canadian evangelicals believe, and how are they viewed by Canada as a whole? Some new stats provide insight.
The Daily Star: Kurdish forces have driven ISIS from more than a dozen Assyrian Christian villages that the jihadis had captured in northeastern Syria, a monitor said Wednesday.
Aleteia: A United Nations official has painted a chilling picture of how the Islamic State group oversees a vast network of sexual slavery, including an elaborate pricing system, violent treatment by slave masters and casual branding of female bodies and reselling of “used goods.”
Aleteia: With the fall of Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria, there have been questions about whether the Obama Administration’s approach to fighting the Islamic State group is working. Are airstrikes against militants enough, or will we eventually see American “boots on the ground?”
Winnipeg Free Press (AP): China’s president warned in a key policy speech that religions must be independent from foreign influence, as the government asks domestic religious groups to pledge loyalty to the state.
Christian Concern: Students at a Welsh university have voted to ban the tradition of putting Bibles in their halls of residence in the name of ‘multiculturalism’.
Vatican Radio: The many Christians who are being persecuted in our times “are martyrs” Pope Francis said on Wednesday, at the end of his General Audience.
The American Conservative: Let’s understand what happened here. This Christian jeweler agreed to custom-make engagement rings for a lesbian couple, knowing that they were a couple, and treated them politely. But when they found out what he really believed about same-sex marriage, even though the man gave them polite service, and agreed to sell them what they asked for, the lesbian couple balked, and demanded their money back — and the mob threatened the business if they didn’t yield. Which, of course, he did.
Religion News Service: Last year, a death penalty sentence slapped on a Sudanese doctor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith stirred international outrage and heightened calls on the government to increase religious liberty.
The Christian Institute: Students at a Welsh university have voted to remove thousands of Bibles from halls of residence, in a move being described as “illiberal and intolerant”.
Ecumenical News: Catholics in Pakistan have reiterated their appeal to the government for heightened security and protection after Islamic extremists carried out a new attack on a minority community last week.
The Malaysian Insider: Muslims in secular Malaysia, who are also subjected to Islamic laws, will be discriminated if a religious council’s proposition to exempt them from enjoying all fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution is allowed, lawyers said.
Breitbart: In the space of just five days, from May 10 to 15, 2015, Hindu Fundamentalist groups have carried out five separate attacks against Christians in their places of worship in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, which is under the authority of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Christian Today: The Churches Education Commission (CEC), the provider of Bible studies in more than 660 public schools in New Zealand is filing a legal challenge before the High Court to allow religious studies in the classroom following efforts to remove the subject from state schools.
The Jerusalem Post: Countries in the Middle East have shot up an annual list of places where vulnerable minorities are most at risk of genocide, political killing and systematic repression, a human rights group said on Wednesday.
Interfax Religion: Members of all State Duma factions have supported a bill allowing only state-run healthcare institutions to perform abortions and cancelling mandatory health insurance coverage for abortions.
The New York Times: Islamic State fighters used a sandstorm to help seize a critical military advantage in the early hours of the terrorist group’s attack on the provincial Iraqi capital of Ramadi last week, helping to set in motion an assault that forced Iraqi security forces to flee, current and former American officials said Monday.
The New York Times: The Islamic State has revenue and assets that are more than enough to cover its current expenses despite expectations that airstrikes and falling oil prices would hurt the group’s finances, according to analysts at RAND Corporation, a nonprofit that researches public policy.
Christian Concern: A judge sitting at Belfast County Court has ruled today (19th May) that a Christian-run bakery that refused to bake a cake backing same-sex ‘marriage’ was guilty of ‘discrimination’ on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The Wall Street Journal (AP): Thousands of Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis abandoned at sea by human traffickers had nowhere to go Thursday, as Malaysia turned away two boats crammed with migrants, and Thailand kept at bay a third boat with hundreds more.
Townhall: Ahmad is a parliamentarian in a rogue Middle East nation where women 17 and under are the property of their fathers. Each year, thousands of young girls are sold into sex-slavery by age 7.
The New York Times: Hundreds of women and girls captured by Boko Haram have been raped, many repeatedly, in what officials and relief workers describe as a deliberate strategy to dominate rural residents and possibly even create a new generation of Islamist militants in Nigeria.
Catholic Culture (Catholic World News): Christians in Iraq are “on the edge of a terrible catastrophe,” an Iraqi nun said in May 13 testimony before the foreign-affairs committee of the US House of Representatives.
Religion News Service: Amid killings, rapes and abductions, the international evangelical humanitarian agency World Vision indefinitely suspended its operations in South Sudan’s Unity State over the escalating conflict.
Religious Freedom Coalition: Throughout February, members of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, the Copts, were slaughtered. The Islamic State released a video in mid-February depicting 21 poverty-stricken Coptic Christians being decapitated in Libya, where these men had gone to find work.
Religious Freedom Coalition: Gunmen killed a church pastor and more than 70 other Christians in Plateau state in the past month, sources said.
USA Today: The Chinese government had a problem. Faced with rising discontent over its repressive rule in the largely Muslim province of Xinjiang, the government wanted to find a way to weaken Islam in the region. But how does a government weaken a religion?
The Blaze: On May 13 the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hear testimony about how Islamic State is purging religious minorities.
Christian Today: Christian leaders in Pakistan have received death threats for their involvement in church planting, leading a country expert to warn that religious minorities are facing worse conditions day by day.
Evangelical Focus: One week ago, David Cameron won UK’s election after securing a majority in Parliament. The unexpected result, has led to different types of reactions. Evangelical Christians, which were very active in the campaign, also analysed the outcome.
Religion News Service: A teenage blogger from Singapore has been found guilty of insulting Christians and of distributing an obscene image of the country’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Breitbart: Our freedoms of conscience and association have taken a bit of a beating over the last few years, on both sides of the Atlantic. From florists to bakers, B&B owners, pizza parlours, more bakers, even whole states, the redefinition of civil marriage laws to include the recognition of same-sex couples has led to those who dissent from this change, and ethically object to supporting same-sex relationships, being falling afoul of ‘equality’ legislation and secularist intolerance.
Religion News Service (Reuters): A blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in Bangladesh on Tuesday (May 12), the third killing of a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation in less than three months.
Christian Today: China has long been considered one of the worst countries for religious liberty. Designated a country of particular concern by the US since 1999, the latest report from the Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found an “alarming increase in systematic, egregious, and ongoing abuses” in 2014.
‘We are going through a terrible moment’: 242 Syrian Christians remain hostage after ransom offer rejected
WorldWatch Monitor: Danger levels rose sharply in late April for northeast Syria’s isolated Assyrian Christians, caught for nearly three months now between Kurdish militias and Syrian army forces battling with militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State for control of Hassaka province.
ACLJ: According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) newly released 2015 Annual Report, “Pakistan represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the U.S. Government as ‘countries of particular concern.’”
Law and Religion UK: Civil Society News reports that the Charity Commission is investigating allegations that members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church provided campaigning and leafleting support for Conservative candidates and held prayer services for a Conservative victory at the General Election.
Religion Clause: According to Sputnik News, this week the Norwegian Parliament officially repealed the country’s blasphemy law.
Reuters: Germany’s Roman Catholic Church, an influential voice for reforms prompted by Pope Francis, has decided lay employees who divorce and remarry or form gay civil unions should no longer automatically lose their jobs.
Egyptian Christian teenagers face blasphemy charges for video mocking ISIS, which included some fake prayers
The Washington Post: Apparently four Coptic Christian teenagers, on a trip with their teacher, decided to make a joke video about ISIS (a group likely on the minds of many Copts, given the ISIS beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya earlier this year).
Aleteia: In the Indian magazine Outlook, Tony Joseph recently sought to find Why Christianity Failed In India. That is a deeply troubling question for Christians anywhere, and all the more so given India’s vast importance in the world.
Institute for Religious Freedom: “Our people survived [deportation by] Stalin,” commented a manager of ATR, which, until April 1, was the only Crimean Tatar television station left. “Will they not survive these current problems?” Russian authorities had just shut it down—along with other media outlets—by refusing to register it under Moscow’s complex religion laws.
Breitbart: For the first time in history, Pakistani history books for middle and high school students will describe the role that Christians, Hindus and Sikhs have had in building the country after independence.
The Conversation: All Australian anti-discrimination laws provide for some exemptions. Among the most controversial are those granted to religious schools.
The Salt-Lake Tribune (AP): A Chinese province where authorities have forcibly removed hundreds of rooftop crosses from Protestant and Catholic churches has proposed a ban on any further placement of the religious symbol atop sanctuaries.
Christian Examiner: Communist officials in Vietnam are for the first time seeking the input of the country’s Catholic leaders on proposed legislation addressing faith and religion, but many bishops there believe the effort at transparency is only an attempt to “appear democratic,” AsiaNews reported May 4.
Aleteia: In this exclusive interview, Aleteia asks Rabir Sinjari about the rescue of young girls held captive by ISIS in Iraq.
DNA India: Around 214 women freed from the Islamist Boko Haram militants are pregnant, Chief of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) was cited as saying by the local Nigerian media.
The Washington Post: Men in Iran wanting to get a spiky haircut, a tattoo or a good ol’ eyebrow plucking from barbers are out of luck. Officials have banned such styles, describing them as “devil-worshipping” and “homosexual.”
Religion News Service: USCIRF, an independent watchdog panel created by Congress to monitor religious freedom conditions worldwide, issued its 16th annual report last week.
Acton Institute: Many Muslims believe the use of tobacco products is forbidden (haram) because “tobacco is unwholesome, and God says in the Qur’an that the Prophet, peace be upon him, ‘enjoins upon them that which is good and pure, and forbids them that which is unwholesome’.” Similarly, the Quran prohibits the use of intoxicants, such as alcohol, and considers such use to be sinful. For these reasons, many Muslim shopkeepers consider it against their religious beliefs to sell alcohol and cigarettes.
Aleteia: The Iraqi Interior Ministry has announced the creation of a joint task force to start military operations aimed at freeing Mosul and Nineveh province, currently in the hands of the Islamic State group, according to Fides news agency.
Christianity Today: Maili Tamang clapped and sang along as the remnants of her husband’s Kathmandu church gathered for a noon prayer one week after a massive earthquake collapsed the “roof of the world.”
Religion News Service: In the weeks leading up to Easter, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo was starting to sense, finally, that the war that had ravaged Syria since 2011 was finally beginning to ease.
Deseret News: Beheadings, enslavement, kidnappings and rape plague minority religious communities across the Middle East, and it’s time for President Obama to fill a job created to address their plight, a group of prominent evangelicals, scholars and other religious leaders told the White House.
Religion News Service: When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake roared through this Himalayan nation last Saturday (April 25), leaving an estimated 5,500 dead and more than 11,000 injured, shrines and temples were sent crashing to the ground, many of them centuries old and irreplaceable cultural treasures.