In the staring contest between the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the Senate blinked first.
USCIRF Commissioner Nina Shea said in an e-mail to The Christian Post that the Committee voted 70-30 last night to keep her organization alive until Dec. 16. The decision comes after two months of scrambling by USCIRF to secure stable funding for its mission of protecting religious freedom overseas. The group's governing mandate originally expired in September, only to be renewed in an overall federal budget resolution that expired today.
Founded in 1998, USCIRF has become the American government's most prominent agency concerning religious freedom abroad. Ryan Morgan, an advocacy officer for International Christian Concern (ICC), said the organization advises the president, Congress and the State Department on how they should stop religious persecution. It's also vital, he said, to the work of similar groups like his own. more >>
The Israeli government has given the green light to build a Bible museum in the country of Jesus' birth.
Israel's Haaretz newspaper reports that the Israel Bible Valley project will combine exhibits depicting Old Testament characters and times alongside displays of biblical artifacts. The Knesset, Israel's main governing body, unanimously approved the initiative yesterday and will soon decide the museum's place on the map.
"It's absurd that in the land of the Bible, there is no center dedicated to it," Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, told Haaretz. more >>
An online witch school recently launched a public relations campaign declaring a shortage of teachers it claims comes as the result of Wicca becoming the fastest growing religion in America.
Witch School International, Inc. said in a press release that “America is on the brink of awakening and discovering its inner magic, and this is changing belief systems around the world as well. How this change occurs depends on what people believe, and more people than ever are looking at Paganism and Wicca.”
The schools co-founder, Ed Hubbard, is quoted as saying, “There is such a rapid spiritual reorientation in America occurring, that the need for thousands of Wiccan teachers over the course of the next decade will be required to meet the demand for basic teachings.” more >>
The Democratic National Committee announced this week that it hired the Rev. Derrick Harkins to serve as director of DNC's Faith Outreach.
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz welcomed Harkins, stating, "I look forward to working with Rev. Harkins to build on the successes we've had as a party in reaching out to people of faith from all walks of life and backgrounds."
Harkins is the senior pastor at the historic Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington D.C. The church is one of the District's oldest African-American churches and has hosted many prominent figures including President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. more >>
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been planning for years to find a way to unite the world's major religions in an effort to help foster peace, and believes a new international organization to be housed in Vienna, Austria will help make that dream a reality. As the institution was officially founded Thursday, some Christians are likely to start pointing to interpretations of biblical prophecy about the emergence of a one-world religion many believe precedes the return of Jesus Christ.
According to media reports, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Austrian Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger and Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez Garcia-Herrera oversaw the signing of a contract between the three nations Thursday, in which they will cooperate in the building and organization of an interfaith center in Vienna. Other high level officials from the three nations were also reportedly in attendance at the treaty signing.
The building, to be called the "King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue," was conceived of by its namesake and mostly financed by the Saudi government. According to media reports the center will be composed of a governing body of 12 representatives, among that number will be representatives from Islam (one each Sunni and Shiite), Christians (one each Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox), a Buddhist, a Hindu and a Jewish representative. more >>
Religious leaders who align themselves with the Occupy Wall Street crowd should not make claims that the nationwide uprisings have anything to do with Christianity, says the president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy.
Mark Tooley, whose advocacy group works toward reaffirming the church’s biblical and historical teachings, said in a statement from IRD that the “Religious Left” has heaped too much praise on those whose “demands range from cancellation of all debt, open borders, government control of health care and free college education, among other expansions of Big Government.”
Tooley aims his argument at leaders such as Sojourners’ Jim Wallis, who Tooley said “has lavished praise during a visit to the occupiers.” more >>