As the death toll in the Philippines reaches over 3,600 from last week's devastating Typhoon Haiyan, Christian aid organizations continue to work endless hours delivering necessary supplies, such as food, water, and medicine to victims, 900,000 of whom have been displaced by the natural disaster. Christian relief agencies such as Integral Alliance and Food for the Hungry have told The Christian Post that while they're offering immediate assistance to those in need, they're also preparing for what is expected to be a long and arduous reconstruction period.
On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda, struck the island country in Southeast Asia with unprecendented strength and scope, flattening entire towns in its path, hitting the Eastern Visayas region, covering the islands of Leyte and Samar, the hardest. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the latest data includes 3,621 confirmed deaths, 1,140 missing and 12,166 injured. Additionally, several roads and bridges have been completely swept away, forcing some victims to travel hours by foot just to reach safe drinking water. Media reports indicate some survivors are drinking coconut water to stay alive, and experts have estimated the damage cost to be around $15 billion.
Integral Alliance, an international network of 19 Christian relief organizations and an affiliate of the World Evangelical Alliance, has launched a joint disaster response with 18 of its members, working either directly on-ground in the Philippines or through fundraising efforts in other parts of the world. Fiona Boshoff, International Director of Integral Alliance, told The Christian Post that right now the most immediate needs of Typhoon Haiyan victims are "water, food, medicine and shelter." more >>
A leading human rights activist has shared her long journey from unbelief to faith in her book Good God, Lousy World, and Me, chronicling the search for a loving God amidst cases of genocide, rape, sex trafficking and slavery, which at one point led her to call herself a "twisted, pissed-off, betrayed, former Christian."
Holly Burkhalter serves as the vice president of Government Relations & Advocacy of International Justice Mission, a human rights agency with a commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ. She has worked for various organizations throughout her 34-year career as an activist, including Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, and today is a respected expert on human rights who witnesses before Congress.
Her Good God, Lousy World, and Me, The Improbable Journey of a Human Rights Activist from Unbelief to Faith book explores both the cases of extreme abuse around the world and personal tragedy that led her to abandon her belief in God, as well as her continued search for answers in the face of suffering, and her eventual journey back to faith. more >>
Christian leaders have called on the faith community to help the United Nations and its partners maximize efforts in the Millennium Development Goals initiative meant to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce child deaths and ensure environmental sustainability within the next two and a half years.
"We must celebrate the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, but realize there is much more to be done to reach the targets we have set ourselves," said World Vision President Rich Stearns, according to a press release. "The church can play an important role in galvanizing action."
Stearns made the remarks Wednesday at the "Church Leaders Praying and Acting to End Extreme Poverty" event at The Church Center near the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, meant to coincide with the annual meeting of the world's leaders. more >>
The United States Department of Education has invited representatives from the atheist community to be part of its upcoming interfaith meeting in Washington, D.C.
Members of the Secular Student Alliance will be part of the Education Department's "President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge National Gathering," to be held at Georgetown University.
Jesse Galef, spokesperson for the Secular Student Alliance, said in a statement released Wednesday that they were "honored" by the invitation. more >>
A pro-life petition made to the European Union's legislative arm, which would define life as beginning at conception, has garnered over one million signatures.
Championed by the "One of Us" campaign, the personhood petition reached and passed the milestone last week, meaning it will likely receive attention from the European Commission. "Juridical protection of the dignity, the right to life and of the integrity of every human being from conception in the areas of EU competence in which such protection is of particular importance," reads the initiative in part. "To ensure consistency in areas of its competence where the life of the human embryo is at stake, the EU should establish a ban and end the financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health."
Registered last year, the petition garnered signatures from citizens of eleven EU member nations. The One of Us campaign received support and advice from Personhood USA, an American organization with similar goals. more >>
A state bill that would have stripped the Boy Scouts of America of its tax exempt status if passed has been tabled by the California Legislature.
State Senate Bill 323, a proposal that would have amended the state tax code, was tabled by lawmakers on Thursday. Introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara in February, SB 323 adds "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" to the list of groups that a youth organization cannot discriminate against when determining membership.
"Notwithstanding any other law, an organization organized and operated exclusively as a public charity youth organization that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation shall not be exempt from taxes imposed by this part," reads SB 323's amendment to the current state tax code. more >>