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AL Monitor: The injustices of the Saudi justice system came to the forefront twice in one week. Lashing liberal blogger Raif Badawi and publicly beheading a woman convicted of murdering her stepdaughter were carried out in the name of Islam by a regime that is so desperate to flaunt its Islamic credentials now that there are other emerging so-called Islamic states around the region. The regime has cooperated with the international alliance against the Islamic State (IS), but while adopting IS’ mode of punishment.
The Christian Post: The Islamic State terrorist organization in Iraq has executed 13 teenage boys solely because they were found watching a soccer match, an act that has apparently been deemed punishable by death under ISIS’ sharia law.
ABS-CBN News: Four Evangelical Christians who heckled some Catholics during the visit of Pope Francis are facing charges for ”offending religious feelings,” the Philippine National police said.
The Christian Institute: Free speech is under threat from dangerous new ‘anti-terrorism’ plans that would force Christian Unions to hand over talks to be monitored for ‘extremist ideas’.
Time Magazine: Yes, this Friday’s Page 3 Girl may be the last, and that’s — reasonably — good news. The Sun has not confirmed the move but its stablemate the Times of London reported that their mutual proprietor Rupert Murdoch had signed off on the decision to retire the photographs of bare-breasted models from the print edition of the tabloid.
Law and Religion Australia: The recent decision of the US Supreme Court to grant “certiorari” (leave to appeal) in a same sex marriage case has brought the matter back to attention in the US. The topic is one with many connections to law and religion, and I thought it was worthwhile to compare the current state of play in the US with the situation in Australia.
The Christian Institute: Society needs to be prepared for the prospect of ‘designer babies’ in the wake of recent developments in genetics, leading scientists have said.
The Christian Institute: A Christian school with some of the best exam results in its area has been given the worst possible grading by Ofsted in a report blasted as ‘defying logic’.
Christianity Today: Niger, long praised for its secular government and relative tolerance towards Christians (more than 98 percent of its population are Muslim), has seen growing radicalization in recent years.
Global News: “You will see a lot of people coming here from different faiths, cultures, and traditions, and they will offer prayers. A prayer for peace is the theme for this year for us,” said Gagan Deep Singh, the chairperson of Regina Multi-Faith Forum.
Christian nurse suspended for praying for sick Muslim co-worker in UK; Rejects ‘religious nutcase’ treatment with suit against health agency
The Christian Post: A Christian nurse says the U.K.’s National Health Service suspended her for “harassment and bullying” because she prayed a short prayer for her Muslim colleague who was going through heath and personal problems. The nurse is filing a legal challenge against the NHS.
Christian News Network (Morning Star News): Police in Kenya’s coastal area are searching for a gunman who shot a Christian dead at the gate leading to a church worship site on Sunday (Jan. 11) in Mombasa.
Christian News Network: Concerns are growing as the Canadian Supreme Court is set to rule on the country’s current assisted suicide ban, which provides criminal penalties for those who take part in ending the life of another.
UCA News: Repression in China has worsened since Xi Jinping became president in 2013, according to a report published by Freedom House on Tuesday, a sign that the Communist Party is struggling to maintain legitimacy and control despite China’s rise.
Catholic News Agency: Remarking on Pope Francis’ strong words against the threats which “ideological colonization” poses to the family, the Vatican’s spokesman told journalists Friday that same-sex marriage falls within this category.
WorldWatch Monitor: At least five churches in southeastern Niger were ransacked and burned down Friday by hundreds of Islamist demonstrators angered by a cartoon published by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Life Site News: The adage goes that when it comes to social issues, the United States is at best a decade or two behind Europe. With its cathedrals collecting cobwebs, its laws enshrining all sorts of alternative sexual practices, and its widespread disregard for the sanctity of life, this once-devout home of Christendom could very well be a picture of America’s future.
The Christian Institute: Regulations on techniques to create three and four-parent babies could be legally challenged over serious flaws in the proposals, an international law expert has warned.
The Christian Institute: Legalising assisted suicide in Scotland would only reinforce society’s view that disabled people’s lives are “not worth living”, a disability rights campaigner has warned.
The Christian Institute: The parents of a seven-year-old boy, who has Down’s syndrome and was given a zero per cent chance of survival in the womb, say he shows them “what true joy looks like”.
Public Discourse: The terrible massacre in Paris could be a “teachable” moment on the meaning of tolerance, but it will require soul searching by America’s cultural leftists.
The Christian Institute: Cracking down on free speech in the name of tolerance would only serve to undermine Western society, a commentator has warned.
The Daily Signal: A group of South Asia experts recently submitted a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to address rising religious persecution in Pakistan during his trip to the region for the U.S.–Pakistan Strategic Dialogue this week.
The Christian Institute: Legalising assisted suicide would damage palliative care and reduce motivation to find cures for debilitating diseases, MSPs have been told.
The Christian Institute: Jeffrey Dudgeon warned that the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has “twisted” the political discrimination law in the Province.
The Christian Institute: Nearly 60 churches have now gained charitable status after a landmark ruling last year which was welcomed by The Christian Institute.
Voice of America News: Dozens of governments around the world, most notably in majority-Muslim nations, are turning to anti-blasphemy laws to aggressively punish alleged transgressions, especially against Islam.
Ecumenical News: Police in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have arrested a human rights lawyer who drew public ire when he said a government agency handling Islamic affairs spreads extremism.
Christian Today: Boko Haram’s attack in Baga, Borno State, which killed hundreds, possibly thousands, on 3 January has once again drawn attention to the Islamist militant group that has been terrorising northern Nigeria for more than five years.
Christian Today: The Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria has appealed to the world to lend the violence-torn country the same amount of support it has given France in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The Economist: A broad and ideologically mixed array of Washingtonian south Asia wonks, including ones who don’t normally pay much attention to things spiritual, urged John Kerry in an open letter to put religious freedom much higher on the agenda.
The Christian Institute: Primary-aged pupils at a leading Christian school faced questions about homosexual practice as they became the latest target of controversial ‘British Values’ rules.
The Christian Institute: Northern Ireland’s justice department has been accused of an “extraordinary and unprecedented attempt” to exclude pro-life arguments from plans to weaken abortion laws.
The Christian Institute: The Scottish Labour Party’s new leader, Jim Murphy, has expressed his opposition to assisted suicide, saying proposed legislation would open up “all sorts of possible situations to abuse”.
Fox News: While ISIS and Al Qaeda are widely known for their terror operations, Nigerian-based Boko Haram is reaching a new level in building its extremist base and control in West Africa.
The Christian Institute: Plans to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland are being opposed by a leading forensic pathologist and members of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.
The Christian Institute: Politicians who voiced support for free speech in the wake of last week’s terrorist attack should now work to protect Christians, Conservative Peer Lord Tebbit has said.
The Christian Institute: Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has reiterated his support for same-sex marriage and says he will “campaign strongly” for it ahead of the country’s referendum on the issue in May.
The Christian Institute: A same-sex couple in Northern Ireland have launched a legal challenge to try to redefine marriage in the Province.
Christianity Today: Fleeing violence, nearly 1.3 million Syrians and Iraqis are now living in Jordan. How local and global leaders are meeting their needs.
The Guardian: France spent the weekend coming to terms with last week’s terror attacks in Paristhat left 17 dead. The country mourned, and global leaders joined an estimated 3.7 million people on its streets to march in a show of unity.
Religion News Service: Nigerian Roman Catholic Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama says his country needs a similar march to the one held in Paris on Sunday (Jan. 11) to pay tribute to victims of Islamist militant attacks.
The Wall Street Journal (Access via Google): Two dozen scruffy skateboarders launched perilous jumps in a soaring old church building here on a recent night, watched over by a mosaic likeness of Jesus and a solemn array of stone saints.
CBC News: Graduates of the law school at B.C.’s Trinity Western University will be able to practise in New Brunswick, as a move to rescind their future accreditation failed to pass today.
The Christian Institute: Free speech has to be for everyone if it is to mean anything, Nick Clegg has said, as he warned against “knee-jerk authoritarianism” in the wake of the terrorist attacks in France.
The Christian Institute: A local council in Northern Ireland is calling for a taxpayer-funded equality quango to drop its legal case against a Christian-run bakery.
The Christian Institute: A taxpayer-funded legal bid against Northern Ireland’s abortion law is set to be heard at Belfast’s High Court next month.
The Christian Institute: A group of 80 people have signed a letter calling for the legalisation of assisted suicide, prompting criticism from a Daily Telegraph editorial and a political blogger.
Christian News Network: A watchdog organization that releases a report each year on the global persecution of Christians states that 2014 marked the highest level of hostility against Christians ever recorded, but believes matters will only get worse.
Christian News Network: Arvind D’Souza was stopped by the police “for reasons of public order,” even though he had committed no crime. The incident occurred on Jan. 2 in the district of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
First Things: The case of Frank Van Den Bleeken—the Belgian murderer and rapist who requested to be euthanized rather than spend life in prison—has provoked its fair share of comment. And rightly so, for the facts of this case are shocking.
The Washington Post: Japan’s population shrank by its largest amount on record in 2014. Roughly 1.001 million people were born and 1.269 million people died last year, leaving the country with 268,000 fewer people overall.
Religion News Service: A Belgian bishop who has been touted as a future leader of that country’s Catholic hierarchy is making waves by urging the church to find ways to recognize same-sex relationships in which “exclusivity, loyalty, and care are central to each other.”
Public Discourse: In the wake of Islamist attacks, non-Muslims express concern and confusion not because they are indifferent, but because they are afraid. They want to understand. Muslims have an opportunity to embrace this opportunity for understanding.
The New York Times: The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.
National Review: In the U.K., a British public-television broadcast was accused of “hate speech” and was subject to a police investigation for reporting on radical Muslim preachers. Also in Britain, a congregation of an old Christian church, now surrounded by a new Muslim neighborhood, was convicted on a public-order offense for singing hymns on Sunday morning; the conviction was overturned late on appeal with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Worst Christian persecution in over 20 years marks last year; ISIS, Islamic extremism mostly to blame, finds Open Doors report
The Christian Post: Last year saw the highest level of persecution of Christians the world has seen since the fall of the Soviet Union, according to a report by a Christian persecution watchdog group released Wednesday.
Pakistani Muslim beats Christian mother with bat after she prevented man from abducting, raping daughter
The Christian Post: Two Christian women were aggressively beaten by a Pakistani Muslim man in the country’s capital of Lahore after the women prevented the attacker from abducting the daughter of one of the women.
Christian genocide is on the rise as world leaders have ‘stood by and watched,’ persecution watchdog head accuses
The Christian Post: Persecution watchdog group Open Doors has accused the U.S. and world leaders of standing by and watching Christian genocide happen in 2014, following the release of its World Watch List of countries where followers of Christ are most heavily targeted. The group added that Christian persecution is very much a “leading indicator” of major humanitarian problems, such as the rise of terror group ISIS.
The Wall Street Journal: In the wake of Wednesday’s Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, secular advocacy groups in Canada are calling on their government to abolish the country’s blasphemy libel law, which makes it a crime to speak sacrilegiously about god.
BBC News: A murderer serving a life sentence in a Belgian jail, who asked to be allowed to die by lethal injection, was told in September that his wish would be granted. This week the Justice Ministry reversed that decision.
The Christian Institute: Homeschooling parents in a London borough are campaigning against council plans to impose an annual home visit to monitor their children, saying it contravenes their parental rights.
Christianity Today: New research reveals one more reason to remember 2014: for the greatest number of religious freedom violations against Christians worldwide in recent memory—even in Christian-majority countries. Of the worst 50 nations, 4 out of 5 share the same primary cause. And, while the number of martyrdoms did double from 2013, the main driver of persecution in 2014 wasn’t violence.
Christianity Today: LifeWay Research asked three groups of Protestants—pastors, family members of people with acute mental illness (severe depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia), and those with such illnesses—when “psychological therapy” should be used. Before “sharing spiritual principles”? After? Few opposed therapy, though many were unsure.
Religion News Service: From imprisonment to torture to beheadings, more Christians worldwide live in fear for their lives than at any time in the modern era.
Christian News Network: Two Mennonite ministers in Canada have officiated the denomination’s first same-sex “wedding,” holding the service publicly in a “church” building in Saskatchewan.
First Things: What has fueled China’s remarkable economic growth that has lifted more than 500 million people out of abject poverty and positioned it to become the world’s largest economy? In part, it’s been fueled by the pipeline of market mechanisms, modern technology and Western management practices that former paramount leader Deng Xioaping untapped in the 1980s.
Life News: A few days before Christmas, a U.K. mother of two reached out to Christian radio show program Stand Up For Truth with a plea for prayers and support. She had been notified that Child Protection Services would be contacting her because she had permitted her children to watch the pro-life documentary 180.
Marilyn Stowe: Amendments to the country’s Law on Marriage and Family will take effect on 1 January 2015, replacing the previous rule which forbade marriages between members of the same sex.
Acton: Jeff Gardner was frustrated. As a photo-journalist working primarily in the Middle East, he is witness to the violence towards Christians on a daily basis, but the rest of the world seems unconcerned. Gardener realized it wasn’t that people didn’t care, but that they just didn’t know. It truly was an “out of sight, out of mind” situation. Gardener set out to fix this.