The Islamic State terror group has released 22 Assyrian Christians who were part of a group of over 200 believers kidnapped in February in raids on villages in the Khabur region in northeastern Syria.
The Assyrian Observatory for Human Rights has said the Christians were released due to "the tireless efforts and negotiations by the Assyrian Church of the East in the city of Hasakeh," and noted that there were 14 women among the hostages.
Hundreds of kidnapped Arab Christians have been ransomed, tortured, beheaded and killed over the past year, including a priest who was chopped into pieces, in attempts to raise funds for radical Islamic terror groups and to strike fear into the hearts of Christians across the Middle East and throughout the world.
"Christians have become a form [of] currency in this tragedy," John Newton told The Christian Post. Newton is spokesman for Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need. "I know of one priest who was kidnapped for two months ... they asked for a ransom of $120,000, which the family managed to raise and deliver. ... But hours later, the priest was killed and his body cut up, with pieces of him sent in a box to the family."
The process of trying to free kidnapped priests poses a difficult challenge. In many cases, Christian organizations are left in the dark with little information on who the kidnappers are or where the victims are being held. more >>
Two bills have been introduced for the next Florida legislative session that would protect churches who refuse to perform gay weddings from potential legal action.
Filed earlier this week and scheduled to be considered during the 2016 session, the identical Senate Bill 110 and House Bill 43 offer legal protection for any church or ministry who refuses to perform a same-sex wedding.
"A church or religious organization, an organization supervised or controlled by or in connection with a church or religious organization, an individual employed by a church or religious organization while acting in the scope of that employment, or a clergy member or minister may not be required to solemnize any marriage or provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage if such an action would cause the church, organization, or individual to violate a sincerely held religious belief," read the bills' text. more >>
A Florida pastor and his congregation are now wrapped in heartache after his three daughters were killed in a car crash that left five people dead and a young boy fighting for his life as they returned home from a church convention Sunday.
"It hurts my heart today to see that I have lost three of my daughters at one time," said the Rev. Ricardo Welch of Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ in south St. Petersburg, in an interview with The St. Petersburg Tribune on Monday after learning of his daughters' deaths. "But even in all of this tragedy I still trust that God is God and his strength is what holds me up."
According to a WTSP report, at about 7 p.m. Sunday, Jennifer Zuniga, 30, of Venus, Florida, lost control of her pickup, hydroplaned, crossed the center line on State Road 70 and struck a vehicle head-on that was carrying the pastor's three daughters: Tehira, 18, India, 24, and La'Mour Welch, 29. Also traveling with them was musician Antwayne Robinson, 25, of North Carolina. They all died along with Zuniga. more >>
Members of a radical militant group in South Africa known as the Economic Freedom Fighters reportedly burned a tent to the ground that was being used for worship by an unconventional Christian group that made headlines last month after its controversial pastor was photographed feeding them what appeared to be a live snake.
Controversial self-styled prophet Penuel Mnguni became a target of outraged neighbors and local authorities after his church, End Times Disciples Ministries in Soshanguve, posted photos of him feeding the reptile to squeamish parishioners, some of whom testified that the snake was converted into chocolate.
On Sunday, according to SA Breaking News, EFF members went to the church looking for Mnguni but he was nowhere to be found. They allegedly then set the tent under which the group worships on fire and vowed they would give Mnguni a taste of his own medicine by force feeding him snakes and rats. more >>
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, a 2,600-member Pennsylvania congregation, may depart from Presbyterian Church (USA) over the denomination's increasing acceptance of homosexuality.
In June, First Presbyterian's leadership decided to begin the process of discernment to possibly seek dismissal from PC(USA).
In a letter sent out to members on June 16, the Session for First Presbyterian explained the decision to begin the discernment process, with leadership supporting dismissal from the Mainline denomination in a vote of 19-1. more >>