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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Veronica Neffinger

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

When we think of the issue of child brides, we likely think of countries such as India or Zambia or some other remote place, but the truth is, the issue of children being married off without consent also occurs in the U.S.

The numbers are staggering. In the state of Virginia from 2004 to 2014, nearly 5,000 children were reportedly married off. In the state of New York between 2000 and 2010, nearly 4,000 children were married off.

The organization Unchained At Last is working to put an end to the issue of child brides. The organization highlights stories of girls who were forced into an underage marriage.

Sofia Mahjebin’s story is one of them. When Sofia began skipping school at the age of 10 to ride the subways in New York City, her parents threatened to marry her off. She shares that she was genuinely frightened because she knew this was not an idle threat.

Sofia had witnessed some of her young relatives be married off by their families, so she turned to Unchained at Last representative Fraidy Reiss for help.

“We’ve had clients from Jewish, Muslim and Christian backgrounds who are married as children. And they have come from every socioeconomic level, from both multigenerational American families as well as immigrant families,” Reiss said.

Others grew up in such strict, conservative families that even if their marriages were arranged when they were 18 or older, they realized later that they had really been only children in their mindset.

“My family arranged my marriage when I was 19. So, I was not a child even though I was a teenager. So, even at 19, I didn’t have agency. I didn’t have the ability to say no,” Reiss said, sharing some of her own story with arranged marriage and being a child bride.

Although it was a difficult road, both Reiss and Sofia Mahjebin were able to escape the fate of being child brides, but Reiss hopes Unchained At Last can reach many others. 


Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/3bugsmom

Publication date: March 27, 2017

Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina has just named Rev. Kevin DeYoung as the congregation’s new senior pastor.

DeYoung will be taking over for Dr. Mike Ross who announced in 2016 that he will be transitioning into a different area of ministry. A press release on the church’s website says that the congregation voted overwhelmingly for DeYoung to serve as their new senior pastor.

The Aquila Report notes that DeYoung is a rising figure within the Christian community and is a pastor, prolific author, and scholar. He also writes for The Gospel Coalition.

He will be taking on leadership of the 1,800-member PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) church beginning June 19, 2017. Christ Covenant is one of the largest churches within the PCA denomination.

DeYoung is currently the pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan--his home state. He holds a B.A. in religion from Hope College in Holland, Michigan and Master of Divinity degree from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Early Modern History at the University of Leicester in the UK.

In addition to his new role as senior pastor of Covenant, DeYoung has also been named Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, 11 miles from Matthews.

DeYoung and his wife, Trisha, have seven children ages 13 and younger.


Publication date: March 27, 2017

Five Texas pastors, known as the “Houston Five,” are releasing a video today (March 27) in support of the Texas “bathroom bill.”

Like the controversial bathroom bill in North Carolina, the Texas bathroom bill--SB 6--requires that individuals use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex rather than their gender identity.

Transgender groups oppose the bill which has already passed the Texas Senate in a 21-10 vote, according to Charisma News.

The bill now goes on to the Texas House of Representatives where it reportedly faces opposition. House Speaker Joe Straus has already voiced his opposition to the bill.

The five Houston pastors hope to sway public opinion in favor of the bill with their video in its support. The pastors, which include Pastor Steve Riggle, executive pastor of Grace Church; Hernan Castaño, founding pastor of Iglesias Rios De Aceite; Khanh Huynh, founding pastor of Vietnamese Baptist Church; David Welch, executive director of the Texas Pastor Council; and Magda Hermida, founder of Magda Hermida Ministries, are no strangers to the spotlight.

They banded together in 2014 after Houston’s then-mayor Annise Parker issued subpoenas of their sermons. They rallied enough support from the public, however, that the city walked back the subpoenas.

The pastors hope for a similar story of success regarding the bathroom bill.


Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Kroach

Publication date: March 27, 2017