Church of Scotland Considers Ordaining Homosexuals

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 year’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.

“Sadly our congregation could simply not identify with the general direction the Church of Scotland is headed in, and the sensible option was to leave,” said former session clerk Christopher Martin.

So far, eight former Church of Scotland ministers have converted to the Free Church.

“The 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 there’s no sign of that trend being reversed; it will only accelerate,” said Free Church minister David Robertson.

In the coming days, the General Assembly will reassess the Church’s endorsement of homosexuality in the church. Reverend Jeremy Middleton will propose that the Church take the stance that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only right and proper context for sexual relations.” It is believed that the Church leaders will not approve of the stance.

Now even Christians in Europe are under threat: Report claims hundreds of attacks on religious grounds.

  • The 2013 report documents 241 cases of intolerance against Christians
  • Includes details of hate-based attacks including arson, graffiti and vandalism
  • One case details when excrement was left on the altar of a French church

By Daily Mail Reporter 19 May 2014

The 2013 report was released on Thursday and documents 241 cases of intolerance against Christians. The voluntary group’s report includes details of hate-based attacks on Christians and their institutions, including arson, graffiti and vandalism.

Study Finds That Prayer Has Physical Healing Effects on the Brain

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. … 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, 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, The Huffington Post reported 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.

Israeli Archaeologist Discovers King David’s Citadel – YouTube

Israeli Archaeologist Discovers King David’s Citadel – YouTube.

China Uses Explosives to Annihilate 4,000-Seat Church Building

Chinese authorities in Zhejiang province used explosives to demolish the Sanjiang Christian Church in Wenzhou, China. The demolition reportedly took place at 8:35 p.m. on Sunday, Beijing time, after protesters—including church members—were dispersed by police.

The church became the center of a tense standoff after thousands of church members formed a human shield on April 4 in an effort to save the newly constructed church from demolition.

International Christian Concern (ICC) sources also report that Christian leaders had been detained or arrested in cities throughout the province, including Wenzhou, Rui’an, Yueqing, and Zhoushan. The arrests appear to be a part of a province-wide effort to clamp down on possible dissent over the destruction of the Sanjiang Christian Church. Local Christians in Wenzhou interviewed by ICC reported being “heartbroken” at the news of the demolition, and many feared a widespread campaign to demolish churches was underway.

“Local believers universally think that more severe persecution may be around the corner, but they do not really know how to face the coming challenge, except for praying,” said one ICC source close to the situation.

In 2000, hundreds of churches and temples were reportedly destroyed by government officials across Zhejiang province.

The standoff over the church reportedly began after a Communist Party secretary visited the area and insisted the cross atop the Sanjiang Church was too large.

“When the Party secretary Xia Baolong visited the local areas, he found the cross on top of the church very conspicuous,” Zheng Leguo, a young leader at Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou, told ChinaAid. “So he ordered that it be demolished. Then, the officials from Yongjia county demanded that the church tear down the cross and the top floor of the church.”

When members of the church refused to remove the cross, authorities then threatened to demolish the entire structure, sparking the formation of a human shield earlier this month by thousands of Chinese Christians. A compromise ending the standoff was reportedly reached, until authorities canceled the agreement last week.

It was not immediately clear how authorities had managed to disperse the church members remaining at the site, though earlier reports claimed that SWAT teams had been brought in and that police had cordoned off roads around the area. In addition, locals reported that electricity at the church had been cut and cellphone reception was being jammed in the area around the church.

According to a blog post by The New York Times on April 4, local families had financed the construction of the $4.8 million church building.

“Many of us donated our life savings. … This is our home,” Li Xile, a local from Wenzhou, told the Times.

“The annihilation of the Sanjiang Christian Church only a few hours ago should be a wake-up call not only for Christians around the world, but for the international community at large,” says Ryan Morgan, International Christian Concern’s regional manager for East Asia.

“The government of China demonstrated today just how willing it is to use violent repression, not to mention explosives, in order to try and contain the growth of Christianity within its borders,” he continues. “A truly open and strong society has nothing to fear from the stability and prosperity that inevitability result when religious minorities are protected and allowed to thrive free from persecution.

“Only dictatorships feel the need to forcibly crush the growth of people of faith who are simply looking to peacefully practice their religious beliefs. This morning, tragically, the government of China showed it cared very little for the desperate pleas of thousands of its own citizens, or even the glare and condemnation of the international media spotlight.”

Churches in Sri Lanka experiencing intimidation and violence

Source : Christianity Today

A campaign of violence and intimidation is being waged by Buddhists against Christians in Sri Lanka, Release International has warned.

The organisation says religious intolerance has been increasing for a decade and that in the past year, churches have been forced to close down and Christians prevented from holding prayer meetings or Bible studies in their homes.

There has been a wave of anti-Christian violence, with murder and arson among the 450-plus documented acts of violence against believers in recent years.

Release warns of a marked increase in the number of churches being demolished or set on fire, as well as attacks on individuals, death threats and forced displacement since 2012.

In many cases, Buddhist monks are leading the protests against churches, which are being increasingly cornered by attempts to restrict where worship can be held and the construction of new places of worship.

Kim Jong-un Orders 33 Christians to be Executed

North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered 33 Christians to be executed for contact with a missionary.

The Christians were believed to be working alongside South Korean missionary Kim Jung-wook, who was arrested last year. He and his ministry workers in North Korea have reportedly started 500 or so underground churches, the Washington Times reports.

The Daily Mail reports that Kim Jong-un has charged the 33 with attempting to overthrow the government—the same accusation that lead to the execution of the North Korean leader’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, and all Mr. Jang’s relatives.

The missionary aides will be put to death in the cell of the State Security Department.

According to the Christian Post, North Korea aired interviews with five of their countrymen at a press conference on Feb. 27 who claimed they met with Jung-wook and accepted money from him and other South Korean agents.

North Korea is known for forcing prisoners to issue statements confessing to crimes, and some have challenged these interviews as an attempt to find out locations of underground churches.

North Korea is widely known for its human rights abuses and zero tolerance for religion. For the 12th consecutive year, World Watch List has ranked it as the number one country for Christian persecution.

Christians’ Utilities Shut Off for Refusing to Participate in Religious Ceremony

Twenty-five Protestant families have had their water and electricity supplies disconnected and have effectively been put under house arrest in Mexico because of their refusal to participate in Traditionalist Catholic religious ceremonies.

On Feb. 11, village authorities cut off the Protestant families’ water supply. Two days later, their electricity supply was also disconnected, and chains, ropes and civilian guards were placed around the families’ homes in order to further isolate them.

On the same day, one member of the group was arbitrarily detained by village authorities and imprisoned for more than 24 hours after he attempted to reconnect his water while under the supervision of state officials and police. Village authorities in Unión Juárez, located in La Trinitaria municipality in the state of Chiapas also detained the police officers for 10 hours.

Traditionalist Catholic village authorities are demanding that the families, who belong to the local Mount Tabor Evangelical Church, contribute financially to religious festivals and have said they will not permit the families to reconnect their services or receive visitors until they pay 500 pesos (approximately $38) each.

The village authorities are justifying their actions as in line with the Law of Uses and Customs, which gives indigenous populations autonomy to exercise traditional forms of justice and to protect their culture.

The situation follows an escalation of discriminatory behavior toward the group of Protestant Christians in the municipality beginning in 2010, when the local village assembly blocked their access to firewood and refused them permission to attend or participate in village assembly meetings.

Bus driver’s BIBLE stops bullets…

A bus driver in Trotwood, Ohio, is recovering in hospital after remarkably surviving being shot at point blank range in an unprovoked random attack seemingly linked to a gang initiation ceremony. Rickey Wagoner, 49, was assaulted by three men while he stood beside his bus in the early hours of Monday morning. Three shots were fired at Wagoner – one struck him in the right leg and two were fired at his chest.

The two bullets aimed at his chest were stopped by The Message, New Testament Bible that he kept in his chest pocket, reports the Dayton Daily News. ‘There was obviously some kind of intervention involved in this incident, because he probably should not be here,’ said Sgt. Michael Pauley of the Dayton Police Department.

Australian Christian worker detained in North Korea

Australian missionary John Short, 75, was reportedly arrested by police in North Korea on Feb. 16. Short, who has lived in Hong Kong with his wife for the past 50 years, was questioned and detained after police found gospel tracts in his possession.

Short traveled to Pyongyang on Feb. 15 with a tour group, and police questioned him at his hotel the next day about the Korean-language gospel tracts that he was carrying. Officials reportedly asked him who translated the material into Korean, who sent him and to what organization he belongs.

Short’s wife was informed of his arrest by a member of the tour group who was allowed to leave on Feb. 18. The tour company has made repeated calls to North Korea, but officials have refused to provide any information.

North Korea is considered the worst persecutor of Christians in the world. Although its constitution provides for freedom of religion, the practice of any non-state-sanctioned religious activity is prohibited. Possessing a Bible, saying the words “God” or “Jesus,” and meeting with other Christians all are punishable by death.

The Australian government is working on Short’s behalf through its embassy in South Korea and has also requested help from Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang.