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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Ryan Duncan

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

Five Wheaton College students are facing felony charges after being accused of a brutal 2016 hazing incident which left one freshman in need of serious medical attention. According to the Chicago Tribune, a DuPage County judge signed arrest warrants for James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos - all members of the Wheaton College football team – late on Monday afternoon. Prosecutors are charging the five with aggravated battery, mob action, and unlawful restraint.

The victim of the incident, who was not named, claimed that on March 19, 2016, the five teammates entered his dorm room and tackled him. When the student kicked his legs and yelled at them to stop, he was punched and his legs and wrists were tied with duct tape. The five players then allegedly pulled a pillowcase over the 19-year-old freshman's head and carried him out to one of the attacker’s car. Once the vehicle began moving, the players put on Middle Eastern music, made offensive comments about Muslims, and insinuated the freshmen had been kidnapped by Muslims who wanted to fornicate with goats, all while suggesting he would be their “goat” for the evening.

The victim told investigators that the five players restrained him with more duct tape, pulled down his shorts and underwear, then tried to insert an object into his rectum. When he yelled for them to stop, he was beaten again, he said.

Eventually the players drove to an off-campus location, took the freshman’s cell phone, and left him half-naked in a field. The victim claimed he had no idea where he was or how to get back to campus, and only managed to return because a second student was dumped in the field 10 minutes later. The two were later able to secure a ride back to campus with a classmate who had come looking for the second individual.

The Tribune recounts how the teen suffered a great deal of physical and emotional trauma in the hazing aftermath,

“After he became overcome by emotion in the emergency room, a nurse called police and collected evidence, according to the records. His grandparents later came to the hospital and took him back to their home to spend the night. The next day, his father drove to Wheaton College and moved the teen out of the dorm. He withdrew from the school a short time later.”

“The former Wheaton student said his injuries required two surgeries since leaving the west suburban campus, according to investigative records.”

Wheaton has yet to comment on the incident, but has confirmed it remains, “Committed to providing Christ-centered development programs and training to all our students.” All Wheaton athletes are required to sign an anti-hazing policy which prohibits them from engaging in rituals designed to humiliate or degrade another student. However, this is not the first time Wheaton athletics has been cited in controversial activates.

(Image Credit:ChristofferLukasMüller/wikimediacommons)

*Published 9/20/2017

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Mexico City on Tuesday, leveling dozens of buildings and leaving at least 217 people dead in the aftermath. USA Today reports this is the second tremor to strike in 12 days, and resembles a similar quake which devastated the capital city in 1985.

On Tuesday, countless residents took to the streets in an effort to rescue victims trapped within the rubble. Mexico’s Education Department has reported that one of the buildings severely hit was a school. So far 25 bodies have been recovered from the rubble with at least 30 children and eight adults still missing. Damage from the quake has also spread to the surrounding areas, including Cuernavaca, Puebla, and Raboso. USA Today confirmed the US State Department is preparing to give aid as needed,

“In a statement, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert offered condolences ‘to any who were injured or lost loved ones’ on Tuesday. ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Mexico affected by today’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake and other recent natural disasters. We stand ready to provide assistance should our neighbors request our help.’"

“Nauert said the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City stands ready to provide consular assistance to any U.S. citizens affected by the earthquake.”

A report from CNN speculated the earthquake was especially severe due to crumpling (direct crushing) occurring in a downward bending motion of tectonic plates, rather than of the usual movements from which most earthquakes originate. The only real safeguard against such events is to reinforce old buildings and improve construction methods, but these things take time to implement. For now, the population of the area continues to search for affected and missing individuals.

(Image Credit: MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 19: Rescuers work in the rubble after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck on September 19, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. The earthquake caused multiple fatalities, destroyed buildings and knocked out power throughout the capital. Photo by Rafael S. Fabres/Getty Images)

*Published 9/20/2017

Vestry leaders at R.E. Lee Episcopal Church in Lexington, Virginia voted 7-5 Monday night to return the church to its original name, Grace Episcopal Church, ending a lively two-year-long debate among members of the congregation.

Lee moved to Lexington after the Civil War ended to become President at the beleaguered Washington College. The college thrived under his leadership and now bears the name Washington Lee University. He also joined Grace Episcopal upon his arrival in Lexington. The congregation was struggling and elected him to serve as senior warden. The church recovered and changed their name in 1903 to honor his service. 

Church rector Tom Crittenden told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the debate had been taxing and that the congregation felt it was time to “move on.” Discussion about the name began after a congregant sent a letter to the vestry in the wake of Dylann Roof’s murder of nine people during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The majority of the vestry voted against a name change in 2015, prompting several church officers to resign. This led the church to hire a conflict resolution consultant who helped the church form a committee to deal with the impasse. The committee brought recommendations to the church in April and a name change was one of the suggestions. The report stated, “For some people in the congregation and Lexington community, the name as part of the identity of the church is a source of pride. For others in the congregation and community, it is an embarrassment.”

The vestry did not accept the committee’s recommendations in April but felt compelled to do so after recent events in Charlottesville. Vestry member Dan Cumming told the Richmond Time-Dispatch that he hopes that this move can help the church begin to move on and experience unity.


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