A four day Evangelical conference out of Bethlehem focusing on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict kicked off on Monday, even as several Christian leaders spoke out against the event and suggested that it was a veiled attempt to dampen the Church's support for Israel.
The Bethlehem Bible College (BBC), an institution founded by Palestinian Christians in 1979 with the intent to train Arab Israeli and Palestinian pastors, has sponsored Christ at the Checkpoint (CC) bi-annually since its inaugural event in 2010, and according to its mission, seeks to challenge "evangelicals to take responsibility in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through Jesus' teaching on the Kingdom of God."
Several of the 10 points of the conference manifesto state that "racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant," "all forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally," that the "the Church in the land of the Holy One, has born witness to Christ since the days of Pentecost," and "must be empowered to continue to be light and salt in the region, if there is to be hope in the midst of conflict." more >>
The upcoming Bible-based epic "Noah" has been banned by three Arab countries after Islamic critics took aim at the movie for offending religious teachings by depicting a biblical figure on screen.
"Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries," a representative of the producer, Paramount Pictures, told Reuters on Saturday.
"The official statement they offered in confirming this news is because 'it contradicts the teachings of Islam,'" the representative added, saying that Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait are also expected to ban the $125 million Darren Aronofsky film. more >>
Darren Aronofsky's upcoming film "Noah" has reportedly been banned by censorship boards in Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates due to its personification of biblical characters, which reportedly violates Islamic law.
Insiders with Paramount Pictures, the company producing "Noah," told The Hollywood Reporter that censorship boards in the Middle Eastern countries said they will not release the film. Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan are reportedly expected to follow suit.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount had expected "Noah" would face criticism in Islamic countries. Islamic law states it is blasphemous to characterize prophets of Muhammad, and the film is inspired by the biblical story of Noah, one of God's prophets who builds an ark to escape a catastrophic flood. more >>
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic denounced the Security Council, which includes the U.S., for failing to take action and allowing the ongoing slaughter in the Syria civil war to continue.
"States that exert influence on the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic must act to ensure that these parties comply with the rules of international humanitarian law," human rights investigators said in a report released Wednesday. "The Security Council bears responsibility for allowing the warring parties to violate these rules with impunity."
The U.N. Security Council, which has the responsibility to maintain international peace and security, is composed of five permanent members – the U.S., the U.K., China, France, and Russia – as well as 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year periods. more >>
Out of fear of losing their lives or religion, a tiny group of Christians who still remain in the northern Syrian city of Rakka have agreed to pay off Islamists with a "Tribute Tax" so they won't be killed.
Earlier this year, Rakka's Christian leaders and representatives from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an Islamist branch of Al-Qaeda, signed a dhimma or protection agreement, under which members of the church must now pay for their own physical protection, reported Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper.
Under the dhimma, wealthy Christians must pay the ISIS $500 twice a year per person or four gold dinars. Middle class and poor Christians will pay half and a quarter of the fine respectively, "on condition they do not conceal their true financial situation." more >>
Between 250,000 to 400,000 Orthodox Jews held a mass protest in Jerusalem on Sunday against a controversial bill aiming to end the community's military exemptions, meaning Jewish men and women would be called up for military service when they turn 18.
Reuters reported on Sunday that that "ultra-Orthodox" Jewish leaders called on men, women and children to attend the mass protests against the bill, which is expected to pass in the coming weeks and end the exemptions which have traditionally been held since the country's foundation.
Many of those attending the protest apparently issued a plea to God to stop the bill from becoming law, reports said, with Haredim arguing that the study of Jewish holy scriptures is essential to their way of life, and military service would get in the way of that tradition. more >>