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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Veronica Neffinger

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
ISIS has been accused of fostering the spread of a gruesome skin disease in the Middle East which is especially prevalent amid the squalid conditions of refugee camps.
According to The Christian Post, the skin-eating disease is called Cutaneous Leishmaniasis and is contracted through the bite of sandflies which are drawn to the unsanitary conditions found in many refugee camps.
"There are thousands of cases in the region but it is still underestimated because no one can count the exact number of people affected,” stated Dr. Waleed Al-Salem of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. “When people are bitten by a sand fly – which are tiny and smaller than a mosquito – it can take anything between two to six months to have the infection."
The disease creates open sores on the skin which can lead to disfigurement and subsequently social stigma if left untreated. Health officials warn that if the disease is not dealt with swiftly, another epidemic similar to Ebola may arise.
"We need to ring fence them or risk another situation like Ebola out of the conflict zones in West Africa in 2014," said U.S. Peter Hotez, dean of the U.S. National School of Tropical Medicine.
ISIS militants have been driving people from their homes and creating the need for refugee camps. It is also thought that the terrorists are responsible for the outbreak of the disease because they often leave the bodies of their victims exposed on the roadside, thus creating habitats for the disease-carrying flies.
Dr. Al-Salem added that the refugee crisis exacerbates the threat of the disease spreading: 
"So someone might have picked it up in Syria but then they may have fled into Lebanon or Turkey, or even into Europe as they seek refuge. Prior to the outbreak of war there was good control of diseases, parasites and sand flies but when the conflict started no one cared, conditions worsened and the health system broke down, which has created an ideal environment for disease outbreaks."
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Publication date: May 31, 2016
Restoration has begun on an ancient tomb believed to be the tomb in which Jesus was buried, according to The Christian Post.
The “Tomb of Jesus” as it is called, is thought to be the exact site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. It is located in Jerusalem's Old City where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built over it.
The restoration project, which is being undertaken through the combined efforts of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox churches, is estimated to cost $3.4 million and will take one year to complete.
Workers must peel away the many layers of the tomb’s outer surface, repairing and restoring them.  
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built over the tomb in the nineteenth century, and according to AFP, the ancient site was “on the verge of collapse.”
The large influx of tourists to the location caused the metal frame supporting the site to begin to collapse, and restoration became necessary.
"Broken or fragile parts will be replaced while marble slabs that can be preserved will be cleaned, and the structure supporting them will be reinforced," AFP said.
King Abdullah of Jordan also said he will pledge funds for the restoration of the site. 
Publication date: May 31, 2016
Popstar Justin Bieber recently posted a screenshot of the Christian song “No Longer Slaves,” saying that it “puts [his] heart and soul at ease.”
Bieber has recently seemed to be exploring his faith. Last fall, he did an interview with Complex magazine in which he said, “I just wanna honestly live like Jesus.”
Bieber also recently posted a picture of himself lounging in the grass at a park, saying that he is trying to focus on God and nature rather than worldly things.
According to, Bieber posted a screenshot of the song “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser of Bethel Music to his Instagram account with the caption, “This song puts my heart and soul at ease.”
The lyrics to the song say, "I am surrounded/ By the arms of the Father/ I am surrounded/ By songs of deliverance/ We've been liberated/ From our bondage/ We're the sons and the daughters/ Let us sing our freedom."
Bieber also recently voiced his skepticism of award shows. Even though Bieber continues to make music that tops the music charts, he posted, "I don't know about these award shows..No disrespect to anybody at any of the shows or the people running it. Nothing but love for you guys and your support. But I don't feel good when I'm there nor after. I try to think of it as a celebration, but can't help feeling like people are rating and grading my performance."
"When I do get these awards, the temptation of putting my worth in what I do is so hard to fight!!!” he continued. “I am privileged and honoured to be recognised by my peers, but in these settings I can't feel the recognition. And I wonder, does anybody else?”
Publication date: May 31, 2016