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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Amanda Casanova

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

Thousands of Christians, Kurds and Yazidis are fleeing parts of Syria as violence continues between Turkey’s forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces.

This week, the White House announced that American soldiers would be pulled out of northern Syria. Along with the announcement, Turkey moved its forces into northern Syria, CBN News reports.

The group In Defense of Christians, said they are “deeply concerned for the Christian and Yazidi communities of Northeast Syria should the Republic of Turkey move into the region.

“There are over 40,000 Christians in the Northeast, which is a dramatic decrease from the 130,000 Christians who lived in this area before the impact of ISIS and the Syrian Crisis,” the statement from the group said.

A Catholic archbishop in Ebril, Iraq previously said that pulling U.S. troops from any hostile areas would lead to more violence against Christians, the Catholic News Agency reports.

“We are gravely concerned regarding the recent draw down of the U.S. presence in Iraq,” the archbishop said.

“Having faced genocide at the hands of ISIS, our shattered communities have drawn immense hope from the promise of the American commitment to Iraqi minority communities spearheaded by the vice president.”

The archbishop was referring to a 2017 promise from Vice President Mike Pence, who said the U.S. would protect persecuted Christians and minorities.

“The United States will work hand in hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted for their faith. This is the moment, now is the time, and America will support these people in their hour of need,” Pence said.

According to CBN News, Christian soldiers with the Syrian Democratic Forces have been going to churches to pray and kiss the Bible before going to fight.

Trump said the decision to remove American troops is not about “abandoning” Kurdish soldiers.

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” he tweeted.

He said that could include sanctions on the country.

“We won, we left the area. I don’t think we want to go back in. Let’s see what happens. We are going to possibly do something very, very tough with respect to sanctions and other financial things,” Trump concluded.

Photo courtesy: Pixabay

Survivors of sexual abuse shared their stories this month as part of the SBC and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s “Caring Well” conference.

J.D. Greear, president of the SBC, told attendees at the Oct. 3-5 conference that those stories could encourage churches to help victims of sexual abuse, the Christian Post reports.

“This is a Gospel issue. The credibility of our witness, and even more importantly, the souls of our people are at stake,” Greear said. “Caring for those vulnerable whom God has entrusted to us is a way that we can and we must put the trustworthiness of the Gospel on display.”

“Abuse is unspeakably tragic,” he added, "but this is the moment that the church can put on display the matchless power of the Gospel. Churches are equipped to do something unique, something our society cannot do because we can offer not just reckoning, we can offer resurrection.” 

Susan Codone, senior associate dean of academic affairs at Mercer University School of Medicine, told attendees that she was 14 when a youth pastor in Alabama began abusing her.

About a year and a half later, she reported the abuse to the senior pastor, who fired the man, but then the senior pastor “picked up with me where my youth minister left off with me.” She said the pastor sexually abused her for the next few months.

"[M]y faith has fluctuated over the years, and my service to [God] has been interrupted by my inability to trust Him completely and to trust the church completely," she said. "The church must do a better job of being a place of healing and refuge."

Another woman, Megan Lively, told conference attendees that she was raped while she was a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. She reported the crime but she said she was “made to feel as if what happened was my fault.”

“It may be helpful to know survivors inside and outside the church walk through life with an incredible amount of internal fear, anxiety and insecurity,” she said. "We must join together against this enemy and draw near to the One who has already crushed his head," she said. "Jesus has won. I am His."

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, consider calling the National Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Golubovy

The case of a Christian high school student who was forced to write the Islamic Creed at school is slated to come before a U.S. Supreme Court conference on Oct. 11.

The conference is a list of petitions that the Supreme Court reviews for consideration. The court can then decide whether to take on the case, CBN News reports.

This week, the Supreme Court will consider the case of Christian student Caleigh Wood, who in the 2014-2015 school year was forced by a teacher at La Plata High School in Maryland to write the Islamic conversion creed, also called the Shahada, as part of an assignment.

That creed says, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Wood refused the assignment, saying that she believed it would be a sin to profess that there is another god other than the Christian God. School officials did not accept her refusal and she was given a low grade.

The Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit against the school, arguing that the school had violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause. A federal appeals court ruled in February in favor of the school, saying the school was not endorsing any specific religion with the assignment.

The law center appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

"Under the guise of teaching history or social studies, public schools across America are promoting the religion of Islam in ways that would never be tolerated for Christianity or any other religion," TMLC President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson said in a statement.

"I'm not aware of any school which has forced a Muslim student to write the Lord's Prayer or John 3:16: 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'"

Photo courtesy: Pixabay