WASHINGTON â€“ Somewhere around the world, another Christian is martyred, on average, every three hours, according to a new report that probably not surprisingly identifies nations where radical Islamists are abundant as the worst locations on Earth for Christians to be.Â
The new World Watch List research team forÂ Open Doors InternationalÂ said the majority of the cases in which Christians are killed over their faith happen in Nigeria, Syria and the Central African Republic.
â€œThe alarming increase of violence against Christians in Nigeria over the past months highlights the lack of religious freedom they have and the daily dangers they face from the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and other violent Islamic organizations,â€ David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, said.
Organization CEO David Curry added, â€œGoing to school, attending church or identifying yourself as a Christian is a very brave decision in Nigeria. It is turning into a bloodbath. Christians in the West must stand in the gap with our prayers and support.â€
The report looks at the nations where there is the most violence, up to and including murder, against Christians.
It is based on attacks between Nov. 1, 2012, and March 31, 2014, and lists Nigeria, Syria, Egypt, Central African Republic, Mexico, Pakistan, Colombia, India, Kenya and Iraq, in that order.
Observers might be surprised to find North Korea, the 2014 World Watch Listâ€™s No. 1 worst persecutor of Christians, absent from the Top 10 Violence List.
â€œWhen it comes to counting the numbers of Christians martyred, it is impossible to get an accurate number for North Korea,â€ said Jan Vermeer, Open Doors field worker for North Korea. â€œThis is not because there are no Christians being killed for their faith. It is a fact that thousands of Christians are starved, abused and tortured in North Koreaâ€™s extensive prison system. But due to an inability to derive sufficiently accurate figures about the reasons for killing Christians in this most secretive society, North Korea is excluded from the total number of killings.â€
In all countries where Christians are persecuted, researchers recorded 3,641 churches and Christian properties destroyed and 13,120 other forms of violence against Christians such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service is planning to offer sex-change treatment to children as young as 9, using a controversial drug that will block the onset of puberty.
Known as hypothalamic blockers, the drugs prevent the development of sexual organs so that less surgery is needed if the patient decides to change sex after reaching adolescence.
The treatment, aimed at youngsters who claim they feel trapped in the wrong body, has come under severe criticism, with Conservative MP Andrew Percy accusing the clinic offering the drug of “playing God.”
Percy says, “I think many people will be horrified at the thought of a 9-year-old being provided with a drug that effectively stops them developing and maturing naturally.”
Speaking on LBC Radio, Christian Concern’s Andrew Marsh highlighted his reservations, saying, “It’s tragic that children, perhaps as young as 9, are going to be confronted with a choice to take the first step on a journey that could have huge consequences on their lives. It is deeply irresponsible that children as young as 9 are at risk of ideologically driven experiments.”
Police have investigated a Baptist church over a poster which suggested non-believers would burn in Hell.
A 20-year-old passer-by complained the sign did not tally with the message “love thy neighbour.”
The poster read: “If you think there is no God, you better be right” with a picture of burning flames below the words.
Pastor John Rose of Attleborough Baptist Church in Norfolk, said the poster was an attempt to get people to engage with the Christian message and he regretted that it had been interpreted as inciting hatred.
A police spokesman said national guidance required them to investigate the complaint that the poster was offensive and the matter had been recorded as a “hate incident.” After talking to the police the poster was taken down.
The Church of Scotland is discussing ordaining gay people as ministers during its annual General Assembly. The conversation will extend through Friday reports Christianity Today.
In last yearâ€™s meeting, church leaders decided that the Church of Scotland would not support same-sex marriages, but it would permit gay men and woman to be ordained. The decision sparked some congregations to break off and form the anti-gay Free Church.
This week, most of the large Stornoway High congregation left the Church of Scotland in favor of the Free Church.
â€œSadly our congregation could simply not identify with the general direction the Church of Scotland is headed in, and the sensible option was to leave,â€ said former session clerk Christopher Martin.
So far, eight former Church of Scotland ministers have converted to the Free Church.
â€œThe Church of Scotland will say only one percent of congregations have left but its a drip, drip, drip effect. The Church is losing 20,000 people a year and thereâ€™s no sign of that trend being reversed; it will only accelerate,â€ said Free Church minister David Robertson.
In the coming days, the General Assembly will reassess the Churchâ€™s endorsement of homosexuality in the church. Reverend Jeremy Middleton will propose that the Church take the stance that â€œmarriage between one man and one woman is the only right and proper context for sexual relations.â€ It is believed that the Church leaders will not approve of the stance.
The 2013 report was released on Thursday and documentsÂ 241 cases of intolerance against Christians.Â The voluntary group’s report includes details of hate-based attacks on Christians and their institutions, including arson, graffiti and vandalism.
A new study conducted by a Christian researcher reveals that physical healing can occur as a result of the power of prayer.
Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of research at Thomas Jefferson Hospital and Medical College in Pennsylvania, led the study in which MRI brain scans proved that there is power in prayer or meditation. The study also found that prayer is much like a physical workout for the brain.
“When we look at how the brain works, it looks like the brain is very easily able to engage in religious and spiritual practices. â€¦ It only makes sense if God is up there and we are down here that we would have a brain that is capable of communicating to God, praying to God, doing the things that God needs us to do,” Newberg said,Â according to South Carolina-based WLTX 19.
His MRI studies also found that the result is the same whether nuns pray or monks meditate. In one of his studies, Newberg had older patients with memory problems practice meditation each day for 12 minutes for eight weeks. Their MRI results appeared positive and dramatically different after concluding the experiment. Furthermore, test results revealed that the benefit of praying or meditating can actually shape the brain.
“There are multiple parts of the brain that seem to get involved and it really does look like the brain is easily able to have these experiences,” Newberg said. “It has something to do more generally with how we can improve the function of the brain that these kinds of practices can actually help with.”
Back in 2012,Â The Huffington Post reportedÂ that Newberg conducted another study that found the ways in which prayer and meditation affect the human brain. His research proved that when a person engages in prayer, there is an increase in activity in the frontal lobes and the language area of the brain known for becoming activated during conversation. He found that for the brain, praying to God is similar to talking to people.
To conduct this study, he injected participants with a harmless radioactive dye while they were deep in prayer or meditation. The dye then migrated to the parts of their brain where the blood flow was the strongest.
He concluded that regardless of religion, prayer created a neurological experience among individuals.
“It helps us to understand that at least when they (participants) are describing it to us, they are really having this kind of experience. … This experience is at least neurologically real,” Newberg said.