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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Lynde Langdon

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

After ABC yanked conservative comedian Tim Allen’s sitcom off the air, he is hoping to still claim the “last man standing” title on another TV network.

When it announced its fall lineup last week, ABC canceled Allen’s show, Last Man Standing, while retaining others with significantly fewer viewers, including 20/20, Fresh Off the Boat, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The sitcom features Allen as a gun-toting, Obama-bashing, outdoors-loving family man—one of the only Republican TV characters who was not a villain. While ABC shows lost viewers across the board last year, Last Man Standing held onto the most, dropping only 2.2 percent.

The show’s loyal viewers say ABC must have targeted Last Man Standing because of its conservative bent. About 380,000 fans signed an online petition at Change.org asking ABC to renew the show while at the same time accusing the network of viewpoint discrimination.

“Last Man Standing is one of the only shows on broadcast television, and the only sitcom, that is not constantly shoving liberal ideals down the throats of the viewers.  And sadly, that is likely the real reason the show has been cancelled,” the petition stated.

ABC defended the show’s cancellation as a business decision, saying it no longer planned to feature comedies on Friday nights. It also pointed out it shuttered plenty of liberal shows, too, such as Scandal, which has only one season left. Other business reasons exist to cancel the show (which critics have noted but ABC hasn’t admitted): After six seasons, the show was more expensive to produce than a newer comedy; multi-camera sitcoms are a dying format; and the show was produced by 20th Century Fox Television instead of in-house by Disney-owned ABC.

Allen tweeted he was “stunned and blindsided by the network I called home for the last six years.” His own values and politics inspired those of his character on the show, and he said earlier this year on Jimmy Kimmel Live that his views make him something of an outcast in Hollywood.

“You get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody else believes. This is like ’30s Germany,” he said.

Some viewers have suggested Fox should pick up the show since its TV division already produces it. The Parents Television Council released a statement Monday urging Fox to replace The Mick (which has portrayed the sexual escapades of children and teens) with Last Man Standing. If Fox bought the comedy and all of its viewers followed, it could land among the network’s top five shows.

Last Man Standing’s producers say they are shopping for a new network to call home, and since Fox is known for being more open to conservative views (mainly on its news channel), the show might be a good fit there. If Fox doesn’t bite, it might lend a little more weight to ABC’s argument that cutting the show wasn’t personal, just business.

 

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Publication date: May 26, 2017

As the U.S. tightens immigration enforcement, officials have deported an Indonesian Christian back to a country grappling with persistent Christian persecution.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on May 18 put Arino Massie on a plane back to Indonesia. ICE detained Massie and three other Indonesian Christian men earlier this month when they came for their annual routine check-in. Massie’s lawyer had applied for a stay of removal, but the court rejected it.

Massie and several other Christians fled persecution in Indonesia in the 1990s, but many of them missed the deadline to apply for amnesty. The Reformed Church of Highland Park, N.J., which has been an advocate for Indonesian Christians in the state, helped to strike a deal with ICE that allowed them to stay in the United States. The immigrants in return had to keep a clean record and meet annually with ICE officials. Massie lived in New Jersey for 16 years with his wife and13-year-old son, who are both still in the country. Massie’s son said he was in school when his father was deported and pleaded for his return.

Indonesia ranks 46th on the Open Doors USA list of the most difficult countries for Christians to live. An Indonesian court recently sentenced the country’s first Christian governor to two years in prison for blasphemy. Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale of the Reformed Church said Massie and the other detained Christians could be at risk in Indonesia.

“They are most likely on a targeted list in Indonesia for highlighting the human rights violations and minority religious and ethnic abuses that led to their initial escape,” Kaper-Dale said.

Under the Trump administration, ICE has arrested more than 41,000 illegal immigrants—a 37.6 percent increase from last year. Officials mostly arrest criminal offenders, although the number of non-criminal arrests also has increased. ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said the data shows the agency “continues to execute our mission professionally and in accordance with the law, and our communities will be much safer for it.”

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., wrote a letter to John Tsoukaris, ICE field office director, calling on him to realize the men’s deportation would put their lives at risk and affect families still in the country.

“I understand the current administration’s immigration priorities have changed and that you are tasked with carrying out these directives,” Pallone said. “However, I ask that you continue to exercise prosecutorial discretion.”

 

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/PeterHermesFurian

Publication date: May 26, 2017

Thirty-four refugees have drowned after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya. Most of the casualties are reportedly children.

The nearly 200 refugees had been attempting to escape their war-torn country and reach Europe to start new lives when their boat capsized, roughly 20 miles off the Libyan coast. The refugees were dumped into the Mediterranean Sea.

Although rescue ships from Italy, as well as several commercial ships that were in the area, rushed to their aid, it was too late for 34 of the migrants.

“At least 20 dead bodies were spotted in the water," said Italian Coast Guard commander Cosimo Nicastro, according to NBC News.

Chris Catrambone, co-founder of Migrant Offshore Aid Station, added that, “Most are toddlers.”

Experts worry that more terrible accidents will occur as the weather is getting warmer and more refugees are sure to try the perilous journey. In fact, according to Relevant, an estimated 250,000 refugees are expected to attempt the voyage this year.

The statistics for survival on such a voyage are stark, however. Studies show that one out of every 39 refugees perish while making the voyage. Last year, more than 5,000 died, and this year, the number is already at 1,300.

 

Photo: Refugees and migrants are seen swimming and yelling for assitance from crewmembers from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) 'Phoenix' vessel after a wooden boat bound for Italy carrying more than 500 people capsized on May 24, 2017 off Lampedusa, Italy. The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) 'Phoenix' vessel rescued 603 people after one of three wooden boats partially capsized leaving more than 30 people dead. Numbers of refugees and migrants attempting the dangerous central Mediterranean crossing from Libya to Italy has risen since the same time last year with more than 43,000 people recorded so far in 2017. In an attempt to slow the flow of migrants Italy recently signed a deal with Libya, Chad and Niger outlining a plan to increase border controls and add new reception centers in the African nations, which are key transit points for migrants heading to Italy. MOAS is a Malta based NGO dedicated to providing professional search-and-rescue assistance to refugees and migrants in distress at sea. Since the start of the year MOAS have rescued and assisted 3572 people and are currently patrolling and running rescue operations in international waters off the coast of Libya. 

Photo courtesy: Chris McGrath

Publication date: May 26, 2017 

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