Ethiopia

According to World Watch Monitor, 15 priests were killed in the Somali region of Ethiopia. Ten orthodox and 9 evangelical churches burned in recent violence.

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Tariffs

Turkey is now facing trouble from the US over that nation’s refusal to release an American pastor who has been jailed for 21 months on accusations of spying for the state Department and being a terrorist.  You might recall that Brunson has worked for 20 years as a missionary in Turkey and ran a small church in the city of Izmir.

The Trump administration doubled tariffs on aluminum and steel. Congress is pushing to block delivery of F-35 fighter jets and halting funding from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund until his Brunson’s release.

Erdogan says his country will not loose an economic war with the US – this in spite of that nation’s currency tumbling against the dollar.  Erdogan says he has talked to Putin about the economic ties between Russian and Turkey.

The bottom line is that Turkey wants the US  to send them a Pennsylvania-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan claims the cleric is behind a failed coup attempt. The US says Turkey hasn’t provided proof of that claim.

Can you imagine yourself in Brunson’s situation?

did you hear about this summit?

The US.State Department convened a global summit of 350 representatives from 80 countries to advance religious freedom.  The U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.

Meanwhile in Nicaraguan the church is trying to mediate between the protesters and the government.

Burkina Faso

You might not have seen this on your local nightly news, but the second Christian leader in a week has been kidnapped in Burkina Faso.  In both instances, family members were also taken.

On 20 May, a catechist at the parish of Arbinda (40km from Bilhore), was kidnapped, along with his wife. Next, a pastor from the Assemblies of God church was taken from the village of Bilhore on June 3.  This man’s son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter were taken along with him.

Until recently, attacks carried out by Islamic militants only targeted government employees and members of the military. Islamists have also set fires to schools for teaching French in the northern region of the country.  Since the beginning of last year, 216 schools have been closed.

January 2016, 30 people were killed in attacks on two hotels and a cafe in central Ouagadougou. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for that attack. Six of the victims in this attack were members of faith based humanitarian groups, Christians.  They were spending Christmas break in service.  Four of the dead were Canadians from the same family. A seventh was a US missionary who had been running an orphanage and women’s shelter along with his wife since 2011.

victory for the baker

The US Supreme Court found in favor of the bake in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Court found that people should not be bullied or banished from the marketplace because of their religious beliefs about marriage.

For the majority, Justice Kennedy wrote that “the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s consideration of this case was inconsistent with the State’s obligation of religious neutrality.” The opinion adds that “the reason and motive for the baker’s refusal were based on [Jack Phillips’s] sincere religious beliefs and convictions,” and condemns the “clear and impermissible hostility toward [Phillips’s] sincere religious beliefs.”

Jack Philips has been consistent over the years.  “We can have rules, set standards and decide what we offer, but we don’t pick and choose who[m] we will serve.” In other words, Jack declined to make a cake celebrating same-sex marriage (which violates his sincerely held religious beliefs) but offered the couple other items in his bake shop. Jack was not declining to serve the couple as customers, he was declining making a particular product.

As Justice Kennedy said during oral arguments in Jack’s case, “tolerance is essential in a free society” and “is most meaningful when it’s mutual.” He further opined that “the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.”

Thank God for Jack having the courage of his convictions.  Also be sure you understand what constitutes sincerely held religious beliefs.

 

paramedic killed by a sniper

She was in the process of pulling a wounded protester through a fence.  She approached that fence on Friday in her paramedic vest with her arms raised to show the soldiers she carried no weapons. Razan was shot in the chest by a Israeli sniper anyway.

This is a violation of the Geneva Convention which gives medics the right to offer their assistance in times of war and peace.

Her funeral was attended by thousands.

another church attack

The Islamic state is claiming responsibility for another attack on a church. This time an Orthodox church in Russia.

The church was attacked by four people. Two policeman, a church goer, and the attackers were killed.

Father Sergiy, the priest at the church, said a service was being held when churchgoers heard shots outside and chants of “”Allahu Akbar,” or “God is Great,” in Arabic.

Yes God is Great, but He doesn’t favor those who kill innocent people who gather together for Him.