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China US Focus: Christianity is thriving in China. Reports that there may be more religious believers than Communist Party members has made Beijing unsure how to respond. Beijing’s sensitivities to religion are well known. Government secular ideology sees religion as offering a competitive worldview to the hegemony of the Party, with legitimate fears that many Christians, especially Catholics, have loyalties beyond China’s borders. Religion brings people together in ways that might eventually influence politics.
Ghana Web: Dr. Sheihk Amin Bonsu, National Chairman of the Ghana Muslim Mission has called on all heads of institutions to abide by the articles of the constitution which talks about freedom of worship. He said the constitution has clearly emphasized the need for all Ghanaians to freely worship or practice any religion of their choice and infringing on this right is a complete violation of the rights of individuals.
Al Jazeera: The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has abducted at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, a monitoring group that tracks violence in Syria said Tuesday. The alleged kidnappings appeared to be in direct response to recent gains made by Kurdish forces. Few details about the fate of the hostages were available.
Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka: President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday assured that as pledged during the Presidential Elections, an environment will be created where all communities can live in peace and harmony.
The Guardian: Almost one in five Dutch doctors would consider helping someone die even if they had no physical problems but were “tired of living”, according to one of the most comprehensive academic studies of such attitudes.
Christian Today: Evangelical Christians are far more politically engaged than the rest of the population, but share the general lack of trust in politicians, according to a new study by the Evangelical Alliance (EA).
Christian Concern: A Christian ethos school in Durham has asked Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to step aside from making any decision regarding its future because she is “tainted with bias”.
The Christian Institute: The former Archbishop of Canterbury has said that he supports controversial techniques to create three and four-parent babies, dismissing the wide array of ethical and scientific concerns.
The Christian Institute: British Christian schools could face a European Commission investigation, following complaints from a humanist campaign group.
The Christian Institute: A letter from senior Labour MPs urging a vote against banning sex-selective abortion is “scaremongering nonsense”, a backbench Labour MP has said.
Bas News: A member of Mosul Provincial council says that Islamic State militants have pulled out of the strategic town of Tel Afar, east of Mosul in northern Iraq – but locals say the IS action is suspicious.
Financial Review: A woman has lost a bid for compensation after she was sacked by a Catholic Church social services organisation for having too many sexual partners.
Religion Clause: In Bunning v Centacare, (FCCA, Feb. 11, 2015), an Australian Federal Circuit Court judge dismissed a sexual orientation discrimination complaint filed against a Catholic social service agency by former employee Susan Bunning.
The Times of India: India has secured the release of Jesuit priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar who had been in Taliban captivity in Afghanistan since June last year.
Relevant: The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting that ISIS militants have abducted at least 90 people after raiding an Assyrian Christian village.
The Guardian: Voters in the Irish Republic will decide whether to approve same-sex marriage on 22 May after the Taoiseach announced the date for a referendum.
The Daily Beast: Last weekend in Italy, as the threat of ISIS in Libya hit home with a new video addressed to “the nation signed with the blood of the cross” and the warning, “we are south of Rome,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi shuttered the Italian embassy in Tripoli and raised his fist with the threat of impending military action.
Religion News Service: Christians and Jews are exempt from compulsory Islamic courses because Turkey recognizes them as religious minorities. But atheists, agnostics and Alevi adherents are unrecognized and therefore come under the state-sponsored Sunni umbrella, religious rights advocates say.
Crux: “The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard,” he said in Spanish and without a script, always a clear sign that a message is personally important to the pontiff.
The Daily Telegraph: Australia is a deeply pragmatic country. We care about human rights, but not in isolation. We expect others to exercise responsibility as a precondition of having rights. To gain public legitimacy the freedom to exercise rights has to be nested with fairness and justice.
Life News: According to a new study, one in three Dutch doctors would be willing to help someone with early dementia, mental illness, or who is ‘tired of living’ commit suicide.
Al Shorfa: The independent commission recorded 3,981,597 violations and crimes against Iraqis at the hands of ISIL from the time the group took over Mosul in June 2014 until early this year, according to commission member Fadhel al-Gharrawi.
Ecumenical News: An extremist group in a restive Pakistan province has threatened a local press club, saying that it must eject from its ranks four Christian journalists whom it accused of proselytizing using a television station.
The Christian Institute: Family breakdown is set to cost the taxpayer a staggering £47 billion in 2015, according to new figures released by a leading relationship think tank.
The Christian Institute: An NHS scheme heavily criticised by parents and campaigners for offering contraception to children as young as thirteen is now expanding into West Sussex.
The Christian Institute: Campaigners opposed to the Scottish Government’s controversial Named Person scheme have been granted their request for a fast-track appeal, after losing an initial legal challenge last month.
The Christian Institute: Controversial techniques to create three and four-parent babies could be a “monstrous mistake”, a bioethics expert has warned.
The Christian Institute: Legalising assisted suicide would heighten patients’ distress and prejudice their treatment, a group of senior palliative care doctors in Scotland have warned.
Ecumenical News: An international Christian organization has expressed hope that the Chinese government’s campaign against churches and crosses appears to be slowing down.
The New York Times: Mr. Aly raised his son, Islam Yaken, in Heliopolis, a middle-class Cairo neighborhood with tended gardens and trendy coffee shops, and sent him to a private school, where he studied in French. As a young man, Mr. Yaken wanted to be a fitness instructor. He trained relentlessly, hoping that his effort would bring him success, girlfriends and wealth. But his goals never materialized. He left that life and found religion, extremism and, ultimately, his way into a photograph where he knelt beside a decapitated corpse on the killing fields of Syria, smiling.
Christian Concern: An Iraqi archbishop has warned a gathering of UK peers and MPs that Christians in the region face being wiped off the map without direct military action on the ground.
National Post: The Supreme Court of Canada has made an activist decision by giving physicians the right in law to cause the death of people by euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Aleteia: Fighters of the Islamic State group launched a major assault Tuesday night southwest of Irbil in the Kurdish region of Iraq, CNN reported, quoting Kurdish officials.
NPR: Over the weekend a video emerged apparently showing the Libya branch of the self-proclaimed Islamic State beheading 21 men. All but one were confirmed to be Christian laborers from Egypt.
The Christian Institute: Politicians in the Isle of Man have voted overwhelmingly to reject a Bill which called for assisted suicide to be legalised.
The Christian Institute: Children in all primary and secondary schools should be taught sex education, a committee of MPs has said.
Life News: The Italian health minister gave a recent interview in which she said Italy is a “dying country.” Why? Because abortion has depleted the European nation of its next generations and caused a massive baby shortage.
Aleteia: It’s so bad, he says, that the United States has made clear it will not help Nigeria fight the Boko Haram terror group unless the countrymodify its laws regarding homosexuality, family planning and birth-control.
Reuters: Saint Michael, the archangel of battle, is tattooed across the back of a U.S. army veteran who recently returned to Iraq and joined a Christian militia fighting Islamic State in what he sees as a biblical war between good and evil.
The Sydney Morning Herald: A woman has lost a bid for compensation after she was sacked by a Catholic Church social services organisation for having too many sexual partners.
Religion News Service: The gruesome video released by militants from the Islamic State showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya has focused the world’s attention on the plight of Christians there and the government’s ability to respond.
The Atlantic: Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers.
Christianity Today: Over the weekend, a terrorist group with links to the Islamic State (ISIL) released a video, showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. On Monday, Egypt and Libya launched warplanes in an air assault on Darna in eastern Libya, where the group is based.
The Christian Institute: Christian Unions and other “genuine” and “well-intentioned” university groups will not be caught by changes to ‘anti-terror’ plans, Home Secretary Theresa May has stated.
The Christian Institute: Italy’s highest appeals court has rejected same-sex marriage stating that there is nothing in the constitution to require the Government to redefine marriage.
Christian News Network: Students at the University of Aberystwyth in the U.K. are seeking the removal of Gideon Bibles from their dorm rooms as the presence of the Scriptures allegedly makes them feel “uncomfortable.”
Aleteia: “Their only words were: ‘Jesus, help me!’ Pope Francis said at the conclusion of an audience Monday with the moderator of the Church of Scotland. “They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians.”
The Guardian: Egypt reported that its war planes had struck Isis targets in Libya, shortly after President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi vowed revenge for the release by Isis-affiliated militants of a video of a mass killing of Christians.
Religion News Service: Pope Francis on Monday (Feb. 16) denounced the brutal slayings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by militants linked to the Islamic State, saying “they were assassinated just for being Christian.”
Religion News Service: A survey of 1,500 adults released Thursday (Feb. 12) by YouGov, a British market research firm, shows that as many as a third of all Britons do not believe in God or any kind of higher power.
Ecumenical News: Bishops of the Chaldean Church have agreed to unite and face the rising threat of persecution of Middle East Christians, vowing that the church hierarchy will continue to care for families tormented by violent extremists.
Arc of the Universe: A couple of weeks ago, the Chilean government presented for discussion in Congress a bill to allow abortion in cases of rape, unviable fetus, and present or future threat to the life of the mother. Currently, Chilean laws ban abortion in all cases, although some abortifacient contraceptive methods are allowed. The bill contemplates the possibility of personal conscientious objection of healthcare providers but does not allow hospitals as a whole to reject the performance of abortions in their institutions.
Christian Today: Seven Christian families living in Kasur, Pakistan have been left homeless after several Muslims bulldozed their homes.
National Catholic Reporter: Vietnam’s cardinal-designate sees hope and continuing challenges ahead for the church in a nation that still has to fully embrace religious freedom.
CogitAsia: Vietnam’s government has often been criticized for its poor record on religious freedom, but recent events give rise to cautious optimism that small improvements are being made.
The Christian Institute: The British Red Cross volunteer axed for opposing the redefinition of marriage has lost his appeal against the decision.
The Christian Institute: Campaigners opposing the Scottish Government’s Named Person plans have announced an appeal after a judge rejected their legal challenge last month.
The Christian Institute: An equality quango has gone “over the top” in taking a Christian-run bakery to court, according to the next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
The Christian Institute: A Bill to weaken Irish law to allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality has been rejected by the Irish Parliament.
The Christian Institute: Opposition to genetically modified babies continues despite MPs voting to allow two controversial techniques.
The Guardian: An international group of atheists and secularists including the scientists Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker has challenged the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, to hold a referendum to repeal Ireland’s 21st century blasphemy law.
ANSA: Italy’s highest appeals court on Monday rejected same-sex marriage, saying there was nothing in the Constitution that requires the government to extend marriage rights to gays. However, the Cassation Court added that homosexuals have the right to a “protective” law that would ensure same-sex couples have the same rights as unmarried Italian couples. Neither same-sex marriage nor civil unions between same-sex partners are legally recognized in Italy but some cities, including Rome, have a civil union register.
Reuters: A group of Islamist fighters in Yemen renounced their loyalty to al Qaeda’s leader and pledged allegiance to the head of the Islamic State, according to a Twitter message retrieved by U.S.-based monitoring group SITE.
The Christian Institute: Over two thousand people came to hear from Christians who have faced legal action because of their faith at meetings in Northern Ireland.
The Christian Institute: Students in Aberystwyth are pushing for thousands of Gideon Bibles to be removed from university accommodation.
Christian News Network: Supporters of the terrorist group ISIS are flocking to Iraq and Syria at record rates with an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters joining the barbarian organization worldwide, reports state.
Calgary Herald: We might have an entirely lawless Canada as far as assisted suicide is concerned, what Calgary lawyer Gerry Chipeur refers to as “no country for old men.” Or middle-aged women. Or possibly even young children.
Ecumenical News: Leaders of India’s minority faiths have seized the momentum to push the issue of religious tolerance after U.S. President Barack Obama spoke out on the growing number of violent incidents targeting Muslims and Christians, among others.
The Economic Times: A government employee cannot take refuge under Article 25 of the Constitution dealing with right to profess religion, to challenge rule barring polygamy, the Supreme Court held today.
Daily News: Niger’s parliament has unanimously approved the deployment of troops to northern Nigeria as part of a regional offensive against Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has launched several cross-border attacks in recent days.
Law and Religion UK: The Supreme Court agreed with Smith J that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying had the effect of forcing some individuals to take their own lives prematurely, for fear that they would be incapable of doing so when they reached the point where suffering had become intolerable.
The Christian Institute: The Church of Scotland alongside other faith groups and organisations has called on the Scottish Government to make buying sex illegal.
Jurist: Greece’s new government, led by the left-wing Syriza party [official website, in Greek], vowed Monday to extend legal status to same-sex couples. Justice Minister Nikolaos Paraskevopoulos in a speech [AP report] before the Greek parliament [official website] stated that country’s civil partnership laws will be extended to same-sex couples.