How Pastors Perceive Domestic Violence
LifeWay Research surveyed 1,000 senior pastors on how their churches minister to people experiencing domestic violence. Almost all evangelical pastors believe that victims would find their church to be a safe haven. But here’s what they said on how common the problem is, how they respond to allegations, and whether divorce is the best option.
About 1 in 10 of Compassion International’s sponsored children are in India, where the government has required new approvals before NGOs can transfer foreign funds. After seeking such approval for nine months, “we have concluded the clearance process is fiction,” Compassion stated in December. Running out of funds for its 580 Indian-run child centers, the ministry asked the US government for help, saying it was “weeks away from permanently withdrawing” and leaving 145,000 Indian children behind. India is a secular country, but has seen a rise in Christian persecution as Hindu nationalists have gained political power in recent years.
A new law strengthening the ability of the United States to promote religious freedom overseas has passed unanimously—House, Senate, and President Obama. The legislation allows the US ambassador-at-large for religious freedom to report directly to the secretary of state, flags “entities of particular concern” in addition to nations, and institutes a “designated persons list” to identify and allow sanctions against individuals who persecute religious minorities. The update to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) was named after Frank Wolf, a longtime congressman who sponsored IRFA, and its US Commission on International Religious Freedom, 18 years ago.
In response to growing tensions—and legal confusion—when the rights of religious organizations and the LGBT community conflict, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the National Association for Evangelicals (NAE) have met with 200 leaders in 9 cities to gauge reaction to a proposal to work on legislation that would ensure rights for both sides. The CCCU and NAE are taking their cue from Utah, which last year provided the most robust protections of any state for religious liberties while preventing discrimination against LGBT people. However, nearly 90 evangelical leaders—including the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Russell Moore, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, and The Gospel Coalition’s D. A. Carson—took a stand against such a possible compromise, signing a statement that rejected any laws that would establish sexual orientation and gender identity rights.
As Iraqi coalition forces clawed their way into Mosul, one of the first humanitarian groups into the city was made up of unlikely rescuers. Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a Christian group originally formed to bring aid to Burmese Christians and other minorities displaced by ongoing heavy persecution from their military government. Two years ago, the group began working in the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria, providing medical care, food, shelter, and programs for children. “They feel many have helped them for so long, so they should help others,” FBR founder David Eubank said of the Burmese Christian volunteers. “They are used to war and can function well here. They feel this is where Jesus calls them.”
Like in neighboring India, increasing Hindu nationalism in Nepal has made life harder for Christians. Foreign aid can no longer be used for Christian programs, and Christian orphanages and schools are not allowed to own a single Christian book, pray with children, or let them attend a Bible club. So it was welcome news when a court dropped a case against eight Christian aid workers who had passed out pamphlets about Jesus while counseling children in a Christian school after Nepal’s 2015 earthquake. The charges were the first under the new 2015 constitution, which confirmed Nepal’s secularism but retained language restricting conversion.
The Colombian government signed a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ending the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running conflict. But to get there, the government had to skip over voters, who rejected a prior version of the deal by a tiny margin (50.21% No vs. 49.78% Yes). Many Colombians objected to the government’s willingness to offer clemency or reduce the sentences of most FARC soldiers. Evangelicals, whose rapid growth makes them an increasingly influential minority in the majority Catholic country, were credited with turning the vote.
Thomas C. Oden once told CT that he dreamed this would be his epitaph. When the 85-year-old Methodist died on December 8, 2016, the truth of those words drew him widespread praise as one of America’s greatest evangelical theologians. Oden made a remarkable professional and personal pilgrimage from liberal to orthodox theology due to his study of the early church fathers. “I met [God] through reading the ancient Christian writers, it was as simple as that,” Oden told Al Mohler in one of his last interviews. “And that book is still open for anybody who wants to go there.”
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