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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Amanda Casanova

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

A new study found that American Christians are more likely to consider the lead pastor of their church to be a “friend” rather than a “mentor.”

The Barna Group report, released earlier this month, was called “Do Christians Consider Their Pastors to Be Friends?”

The study revealed that 20 percent of participants said they spoke or regularly met with their pastor outside of weekly worship services and other church events, the Christian Post reports

That 20 percent was then asked to describe the relationship to the pastor with 50 percent of respondents calling the pastor a “friend.”

Nineteen percent said they called the pastor a “mentor,” while 13 percent called the pastor a “counselor” and 11 percent called the pastor a “teacher.”

“Though most congregants surveyed admitted to not interacting with the lead pastor or other church staff outside of church, there is a small, yet significant number of constituents who do—and even regard their pastor as a friend,” noted Barna.

“Exactly half of Christian respondents and churched adults (50% each) call their pastor ‘friend,’ as do 46% of practicing Christians. The lack of difference in percentages across these groups suggests that, while church attendance or faith practice increases the likelihood of getting to meet and know one’s pastor in the first place, friendship might naturally occur once those interactions come about.”

Barna surveyed more than 800 self-identified Christians living in the U.S. The survey also took into account another report, “The State of Pastors,” which included some 1,000 responses from Christian adults.

Other findings of the study:

-       Protestants (48 percent) are more likely than Catholics (27 percent) to meet with their pastor outside of church

-       28 percent said their pastor often attends community or social events outside of the church

-       64 percent responded that they have a positive view of their pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month.

Photo courtesy: Eber Devine/Unsplash

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

JOSNigeria, October 14, 2019 (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed a young Christian man after stopping him on a highway in Kaduna state on Oct. 5, while in Plateau state another 13 Christians have been slain in less than a month, sources said.

Armed herdsmen stopped the vehicle of Bartholomew David, 23, and a female passenger shortly after he had dropped his sister off at the Akilbu railway station, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the city of Kaduna on the highway to Abuja. They took David and the woman, who had requested a ride from him to the Akilbu station, into the wilderness, Akilbu resident Enoch Barde told Morning Star News.

“As he was coming back he gave a lady a lift to Akilbu, and on their way the kidnappers stopped them, took them inside the bush and shot him to death, and the girl ran,” Barde said, citing information he learned from the young woman. “The girl said the herdsmen kidnapped them because they were Christians. She told the police the same thing.”

The woman, whose name is undisclosed for security reasons, and David are of the Adara ethnic group in Kaduna state. Barde added that kidnapping of Christians in the area has become rampant as the Fulani herdsmen are Muslims while the native groups of the Adara tribe are mostly Christians.

“In most cases, only a few women or girls who are lucky usually escape from the rampaging kidnappers,” he said. “And at times, the kidnappers will rape the women and girls before letting them go.”

David, a 2017 graduate of Federal College of Education, Minna, was a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Akilbu.

“He was a member of the youth fellowship of the church,” Barde said. 

Plateau State Slayings 

In Plateau state, Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 13 Christians in less than a month, including three slain on Oct. 7, sources said.

The Oct. 7 attack on Vatt village in Barkin Ladi County by “suspected armed Fulani militias” killed two Christian women, Tabitha Joro Dung and Yop Gwom Pam, and a Christian man, Peter Zong, area resident Solomon Dalyop told Morning Star News by phone.

“The three were working on a farm, harvesting tomatoes, when the herdsmen attacked and killed them in the evening,” Dalyop said.

Four days earlier, on Oct. 3, herdsmen killed four members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Vatt, Dalyop said.

A member of Nigeria’s National Assembly, Simon Mwadkon, called the killings in Vatt “ungodly, barbaric and a sacrilege” in a press statement from Jos.

“It does appear simply that some people are determined to undermine all efforts to restore peace in our communities,” Mwadkon said.

In Jol village in neighboring Riyom County, herdsmen on Sept. 28 ambushed and killed three Christians returning to their community who had been displaced by violence a year ago, sources said. They also were members of COCIN.

In Bassa County, which shares a border with Riyom, three other Christians were killed in Hukke village on Sept. 23, area resident John Gospel Gana told Morning Star News by phone. Those killed were two women, Ladi Wuh, 45, and 36-year-old Laraba Audu, and community leader Musa Yevuh, 40. All three were members of the Baptist Church.

Gana called the attack “an act of inhumanity of armed Fulani to us at Hukke.”

“The three were ambushed by a group of 10 armed herdsmen on the morning of the fateful day at about 8:30 a.m. as they were on their way to the farm a few miles out of their village,” he said.

Gana called on the Nigerian government to urgently “step up deliberate action to end the renewal of both guerilla attacks by bloodthirsty Fulani marauders whose consistency in raiding communities has obviously become a gradual extinction of our people.”

In addition, three Christians are still receiving hospital treatment for wounds sustained in an attack on Aug. 1. Timothy Joseph, 23, Nuhu Ishaya, 22, and Achi Danjuma, 21, were returning to Ancha village from Hukke when Fulani herdsmen ambushed and shot them, Ancha resident John Bulus told Morning Star News.

“The victims are currently receiving treatment at a hospital in the city of Jos,” Bulus said. 

Christian Leaders Call for Action 

Lawrence Zango, a spokesman for area Christian communities, confirmed the attacks, saying such assaults have continued unabated in spite of efforts to persuade the Nigerian government to address the violence.

“Our communities have been attacked by armed Fulanis in the past three years without end,” Zango said. “All efforts to call the attention of the Nigeria government to these attacks are futile, as no effort has been made to end them.”

At a recent funeral for slain Christians, the Rev. Joshua Bari, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the area, expressed his dismay at the government’s inaction.

“We consider this to be purely an impudent act, and in fact a degrading treatment being done on Christians to stop us from preaching the message of peace,” Pastor Bari said. “We, therefore, plead and urge the government of Nigeria to come to our rescue by putting a stop to these killings, knowing fully that the sole duty of the state is to protect lives and properties. When this is not done it shows that the state has failed.”

He called on Christian organizations, individual Christians, Non-Government Organizations and the government to support the families of the deceased prayerfully and financially to help alleviate their sufferings.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. 

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved. 

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: Pixabay/Chicken Online

 

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