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Virginia Earthquake Rattles D.C., New York

New York is shaking—and it’s not just Wall Street. In what some may view as a sign of the end times, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck Virginia on Tuesday afternoon, rocking the Northeast U.S.

The earthquake hit Washington, D.C., forcing the Pentagon to evacuate, before rolling over Manhattan and causing skyscrapers to sway in the sky.

Developing... read more

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New Wave of Violence Erupts in Egypt

After several violent incidents impacting Christians and their property in February—a priest was murdered, several monasteries attacked and a demolition order issued for a five-story church property—Middle East Concern is reporting new incidents in March.

On March 4, a large mob attacked Christian homes and a church building in Souf, Helwan governorate in south Cairo. Several homes were damaged and the Church of St. Mina and St. George was set ablaze. The mob prevented the fire brigade attending the fire, and consequently the building was badly damaged.

An army unit was stationed nearby but initially declined to attend, and when they did respond they stopped when local Muslims assured them that all had become calm. A curfew was imposed on Christians in the surrounding area, affecting 12,000 people. Several church members were initially reported to be trapped within the church building. However, it subsequently became clear that they had escaped safely via the church's roof. read more

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After Attacks, Christian Leaders in Indonesia Decry Lax Security

Christian leaders faulted Indonesian authorities for security breaches that allowed Islamic extremist mobs this week to attack a defendant convicted of defaming Islam, the judge that sentenced him, two churches and a Christian school.

The judge in Temanggung, Central Java on Tuesday (Feb. 8) sentenced Antonius Richmond Bawengan to five years in prison – the maximum allowed under Indonesia’s “blasphemy” law – for distributing pamphlets that allegedly disparaged the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia that Muslims face when praying, source said. 

Not satisfied with the five-year sentence, Islamist mobs rushed toward the defendant and judge, who were whisked out of the courtroom. Crowds outside began to break windows and burn vehicles around the courthouse, also damaging the lobby, and before nightfall more than 1,000 Muslim extremists had damaged Sts. Peter and Paul Church and the Indonesia Pentecostal Church, as well as Shekinah Christian School. The school belongs to the Indonesia Bethel Church of Temanggung. read more

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FL University Shuts Down Christian Student Group

Commissioned 2 Love has been ordered to cease operations on the campus of Florida A&M University. Florida A&M officials revoked the Christian student group’s active status based on a finding that the club violated what the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) calls a “constitutionally problematic” rule that prohibits student groups from meeting, holding events, and hosting functions unless a university-appointed advisor is present at all times.

In a January e-mail to Commissioned 2 Love, the university advised the club that it had been deactivated for violating the university’s advisor policy and ordered that “no meetings, events, activities, or gatherings of any type take place prior to Fall 2011 semester certification period.” As a result, Commissioned 2 Love has ceased to exist in any meaningful way on campus. ADF officials sent the university a letter Tuesday urging them to reinstate a Christian student group they de-recognized in January. read more

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Planned Parenthood Offers Taxpayer-Subsidized Service to 'Pimp'

New undercover footage was released on Tuesday showing a New York City Planned Parenthood clinic supervisor and medical practitioner aiding and abetting the sexual exploitation of minors, even giving the undercover "pimp" advice on how to pose as a legal guardian and get the taxpayer funded discount for his sex workers, some as young as 13 years old.

Local and national pro-life group leaders are outraged at the steady stream of recorded violations released over the past week as evidence of a system-wide crisis within Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Now, the Expose Planned Parenthood coalition is fighting back.

Lila Rose, president, Live Action, the group that’s recording the videos, says Planned Parenthood has shown, repeatedly, for the past three years of its investigation, that the group is willing to aid and abet the sexual exploitation of minors and young girls, even girls as young as 13 and here illegally, all under a sick code of “confidentiality.” read more

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Google Works to Preserve Holocaust Archives

In line with Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, the search engine giant has partnered with Yad Vashem to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a new project that aims to preserve the world’s largest historical collection on the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem, a Jerusalem-based archive, is devoted to the documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust. With the Google partnership, its photo collection will be easier to search and encourage visitors to share personal stories and thoughts. Sharing is a key word in the Google partnership. By making the photos more accessible, Yad Vashem expects people around the world to contribute more stories behind the photos and add their knowledge to the site.

“We’re focused on finding new and innovative ways to make the enormous amount of data in our archives, accessible and searchable to a global audience,” says Avner Shalev, Chairman, Yad Vashem. “Google is an integral partner in our mission, as they help us to reach new audiences, including young people around the world, enabling them to be active in the discussion about the Holocaust.” read more

Televangelists Pass Senate Probe, But New Commission Formed

Sen. Church Grassley’s probe into high-profile television ministries may be over, but the ranking member of the Committee on Finance’s investigation has led to the formation of a new commission on accountability and policy issues for churches and other religious organizations.

Grassley reviewed the activities and practices of six media-based ministries—Joyce Meyer Ministries, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Creflo Dollar Ministries, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries, Benny Hinn Ministries, and Paula White Ministries—and found no wrongdoing.

One of the six ministries, Joyce Meyer Ministries, responded fully to Grassley’s inquiry and joined the ECFA in March 2009. Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church also provided complete answers to all questions. Four ministries either did not provide any information or provided incomplete information, according to the Senator’s office. read more

Keeping Secrets

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry

For years, Christian filmmakers claimed the potential of faith-based films was a well-kept secret in Hollywood. Well, the secret seems to be out, with an ever-widening array of faith-based film offerings from The Passion of the Christ to Fireproof. The latest comes this month with The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry, a story about a friendship between three boys and their 75-year neighbor, Jonathan Sperry, played by veteran actor and longtime Christian Gavin MacLeod. Check back to Charismamag.com for more about the film, which opens in theaters nationwide Sept. 18.

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Christians in West Papua Seek Autonomy

Christians in West Papua Seek Autonomy

Christians in the western part of Guinea say they are being harassed by predominantly Muslim Indonesia

Despite the success of evangelism efforts in West Papua, the western part of the Island of Guinea, Christians there say they are struggling to survive in a climate of religious and political oppression.

Although they comprise a majority of the region’s 2.5 million people, Christians in West Papua say they are being persecuted by predominantly Muslim Indonesia, which took over in 1963.

“The missionaries should have prepared us for this,” said pastor Lipiyus Biniluk, president of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia, a network with 900,000 members. “They told to us to go to Bible school, but did not encourage us to get any vocational training.

“In consequence we are now completely in the hands of the Muslims. They control everything—our banks, our shopping malls, our hospitals. As Christians we are even afraid to go to the hospital when sick.”

Their fear is grounded in the fact that the Indonesian military killed thousands of civilians after West Papua was formally annexed to Indonesia in 1969.

Formerly a Dutch colony, West Papua was in the 1950s on the verge of becoming a sovereign state, like the other half of the island, known as Papua New Guinea. But it became embroiled in Cold War politics. Under intense international pressure, the Dutch agreed to transfer sovereignty to Indonesia in a deal brokered by the U.S.

The agreement stipulated that West Papuans would vote in a United Nations referendum to determine whether they wanted to remain with Indonesia or become an independent state. But rather than allowing each adult to vote, Indonesian officials chose 1,022 representatives, who voted unanimously to join Indonesia. Many observers still question the legitimacy of the referendum, saying the votes were obtained under duress.

West Papua is still home to some of the world’s most underdeveloped communities. German missionaries began reaching out to the cannibal tribes living in the coastal jungles in the mid-1800s. But as recently as World War II the outside world did not suspect the presence of humans in the inaccessible highlands, where Biniluk’s church was founded.

Wupu Game, a church leader from the Dani tribe now in his 60s, still remembers the day when missionaries first arrived in his community in 1955. “They came with salt,” Wupu recalls of his first contact with the outside world. As the son of an elder, Wupu got to taste this extreme rarity. He also watched as one of the missionaries was killed with a poisoned arrow.

But before long, Game’s parents and their whole tribe embraced the gospel. “What intrigued us was that Jesus had risen from the dead,” Game said. “My tribe used to live in a constant fear of death.

Older people would hear a certain bird cry during the night and inevitably somebody died on the next day. We were traumatized. Mothers would cut off a finger for every child that died. And the medicine man tried all kind of witchcraft to make the dead come alive again.”

When the tribe decided to put their hope in Jesus, all amulets and other witchcraft devices were burned in big bonfires. Game recalled the relief they felt and how things became so very easy. Tasks that used to keep people busy for months took “no time at all” with the new tools the missionaries brought, such as knives, and axes.

Today life is not easy for the West Papuan Christians. Besides harassment by the Muslim regime, church leaders said another crisis is developing. Diseases such as malaria and HIV are spreading, as well as an “unknown epidemic disease that the government does not even bother to investigate,” Biniluk said.

“I am completely worn out by all the funerals I have been holding lately,” he said. “There is no information given about HIV, and our church members have no money to buy malaria medicine.”

In October, Biniluk joined a delegation of indigenous church leaders who flew to Jakarta, the capital, to plead with the Indonesian government to allow West Papua to implement the special autonomy that was formally granted in 2001. “So far it has been words only, in reality nothing has changed,” he explained.

Addressing the issue of autonomy could be dangerous in a country that does not even allow free press. “But we have to try,” Biniluk concluded, “or our people will not survive.”

—Herti Dixon read more

Leaders Concerned by Haggard Church Visit


Ministers involved in restoring the former pastor questioned whether he was ready to return to the pulpit.

Nov. 21, 2008 -- Prominent Christian leaders expressed concern in November over Ted Haggard’s appearance at an Illinois church, where he repeatedly apologized for the scandal that led to his dismissal from the Colorado megachurch he founded.

 

The leaders were involved in restoring Haggard after he left New Life Church in 2006 amid accusations that he solicited a male prostitute and purchased methamphetamines. Noting that Haggard had distanced himself from the restoration process, the leaders questioned whether his speaking at Open Bible Fellowship in Morrison, Ill., on Nov. 2 was premature. read more

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