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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Amanda Casanova

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

President Donald Trump told the story behind “God Bless America” at the Israeli American Council National Summit this week in Hollywood, Florida.

According to Faithwire, Trump introduced the Shalva National Center House Band, the group of musicians with disabilities that would be playing the song.

“In every generation, Jewish American patriots have strengthened, sustained, uplifted, and inspired our nation,” Trump said.  “In a moment, the Shalva Band will conclude this event with a song that we know very well.  Before they do, I want to tell the famous story behind it,” the President noted.

Trump said a young Jewish American soldier was stationed at Camp Upton in New York when he wrote a prayer in the form of a song.

“His name was Irving Berlin — maybe the greatest of them all,” Trump said. “And he held that song close to his heart for more than 20 years. He did not release the song until 1938, as the world learned of Hitler’s evil atrocities against the Jewish people.

“On November 10th of that year, his song broadcast through the radio and into the homes all across the country.  Millions and millions of people were inspired.  It was the first time Americans heard Irving Berlin’s timeless hymn, “God Bless America.’”

Trump said the song became the “prayer of our nation.”

“It’s the prayer that Americans sang as we faced down communism and as we came together as one nation after 9/11. It’s the prayer that still unites us today and the hope that burns bright in our hearts because we are proud American patriots,” Trump said.  “We love this magnificent nation with every ounce of our strength, spirit, and soul.”

Watch the performance here.

The Shalva Band originally began as part of a musical therapy class at Shalva, the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. The group went on to compete on the Israeli TV show “Rising Star.”

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Saul Martinez/Stringer

The Strength to Stand Student Bible Conference recently announced that Kanye West will be next month’s conference’s new headliner.

Christian Comedian John Crist was initially set to headline the January conference, but in November he was “removed due to moral failure,” Fox News reports.

As Christian Headlines previously reported, in November, Crist canceled the remainder of his “Immature Thoughts Tour” after news broke that a number of women were accusing him of sexual misconduct and manipulation.

The news was first brought to light after Charisma Magazine began an investigation into the allegations.

Crist responded to the allegations through a statement also published by Charisma Magazine. He said, “Over the past number of years, various women have accused me of behavior that has been hurtful to them. While I am not guilty of everything I've been accused of, I confess to being guilty of this—I have treated relationships with women far too casually, in some cases even recklessly. My behavior has been destructive and sinful. I've sinned against God, against women and the people who I love the most.”

He continued, “I have violated my own Christian beliefs, convictions and values, and have hurt many people in the process. I am sorry for the hurt and pain I have caused these women and will continue to seek their forgiveness. I have also hurt the name of Jesus and have sought His forgiveness.”

As a result of the allegations, not only did Crist cancel the remainder of his comedy tour, but his Netflix special “I Ain’t Prayin’ for That” and his upcoming book “Untag Me: The Subtle Art of Appearing Better Than You Really Are” were put on hold. Crist also lost his spot as a headliner for the Strength to Stand Student Bible Conference.

Replacing Crist as the youth conferences headliner is, musician and outspoken Christian, Kanye West.

Strength to Stand Student Bible Conference leader Scott Dawson released a statement in a YouTube video announcing the change. 

"I realized that, although this is a worldwide megastar, he was a brother in Christ," Dawson said. 

"He told me his testimony. He told me his struggles, what he was still going through. He said he's been delivered, but he's on a growth journey with Jesus.” Dawson then confirmed that West would be headlining.

According to the conference’s website, West will be performing at the January 18-20 conference in Pigeon Forge, Tennesse. Also performing on those dates is popular worship band, Hillsong Young & Free.

Reportedly, since announcing West’s involvement in January’s event, the conference has sold out.

For dates and more information visit on the Strength to Stand Conference, visit their website.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevin Winter/Staff

Video courtesy: Strength to Stand

NAIROBI, Kenya, December 9, 2019 (Morning Star News) – Suspected members of Somali Islamic extremist group Al Shabaab intercepted a bus in northern Kenya on Friday (Dec. 6), separated out those who were not local ethnic Somali Muslims and executed them, sources said.

The Medina Bus Co. vehicle en route from Nairobi to Mandera had 56 people aboard when it was intercepted at 5:30 p.m. between Kutulu and Wargadud in Wajir County, where the population is largely ethnic Somali Kenyans, sources said. A witness who escaped told a Morning Star News contact that the assailants separated out 11 Kenyan workers from the interior (assumed to be Christians) from local residents, assumed to be ethnic Somali Muslims.

“One of the Muslim men gave me Somali attire, and when the separation was being done I went to the side of the Muslims, and immediately we were told to get into the bus,” the survivor told the Morning Star News contact. “As the locals were getting back into the bus, the non-locals who were left behind were fired upon with gunshots.”
The bus was stopped as the workers were returning to their station in Mandera, he said.

“I think the attackers were monitoring our travelling all the way from Nairobi,” he said. “The militants knew that we were not armed.”

Two of the victims were teachers identified as evangelical Christians, but their names were withheld pending official notification of relatives, another source said.

“We have lost two teachers who used to attend our church,” the source from a congregation in northern Kenya (undisclosed for security reasons) told Morning Star News.

A third victim was a doctor who belonged to an Africa Inland Church congregation, the source said, and three others were said to be Roman Catholics. The religious affiliation of five other people killed was yet to be determined at this writing.

Al Shabaab, which is waging war against the government of neighboring Somalia, reportedly took responsibility for the attack, saying victims included “secret security agents and government employees.”

Official information about the attack was inconsistent. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement that several police officers were among eight people killed, and a police source told Agence France-Presse that seven of a total of 10 people killed were officers.

Al Shabaab, which is allied with Al Qaeda, or Al Shabaab sympathizers have killed several non-local people in northern Kenya since 2011, when Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.
Al Shabaab militants were suspected in the killing of two Christian teachers on Oct. 10, 2018.
On April 2, 2015, 148 people at Garissa University College lost their lives in an attack by Al Shabaab, and several attacks on churches and Christians have taken place in Garissa, also in northern Kenya.
Somalia’s constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and prohibits the propagation of any other religion, according to the U.S. State Department. It also requires that laws comply with sharia (Islamic law) principles, with no exceptions in application for non-Muslims.
Somalia is ranked 3rd on Christian support group Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian; Kenya is ranked 40th.
If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.
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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: ©Morning Star News/NordNordWest/Wikipedia