Three Christian clergymen, each facing six years in prison in Iran for their faith, attended a second appeal hearing on Tuesday. Reports noted that yet another Christian, a house church leader in Shiraz, was recently arrested.
"The charges faced by Pastors Behnam Irani, Matthias Haghnejad and Deacon Silas Rabbani are clearly unjust, as Mr Farahani has argued in court. We continue to call on the authorities to release these clergymen along with Ebrahim Hosseinzadeh, unconditionally and without delay," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas in a news release.
"Their only 'crime' is to exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief, as guaranteed in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is signatory. We urge the Iranian government to uphold this right for religious minorities in Iran, in line with its obligations under international law and the provisions upholding the rights of religious minorities in its own constitution." more >>
One of the largest churches in America, Oklahoma-based LifeChurch.tv, is looking to possibly add another campus in Johnson County, Kansas to its multi-campus system.
Life Covenant Church, Inc. of Edmond, more commonly known by the name LifeChurch.tv, has recently purchased approximately 15 acres in Overland Park. The church purchased the property for an estimated $3.95 million but has not made a final decision as to the land's usage, according to Rob Roberts of the Kansas City Business Journal.
Southern Baptist International Mission Board President and megachurch Pastor David Platt said the reason why many Christians balk at the idea of allowing God to send them anywhere in the world for His purpose is because churches have watered down what it means to accept Jesus Christ as their savior.
The megachurch pastor preached in a Dec. 1 podcast entitled, "Our Obligation to the Unreached", that Christians should give God a "blank check" when it comes to missions, expressing a willingness to let go of everything and spread the Gospel even in the most violent and deadly places in the world. However he said most people sitting in the church pews on Sunday mornings believe this call is foolish and terrifying.
Referring to Paul's Romans 12 command to Christ followers to become "living sacrifices," Platt admonished "You know why blank check language – surrender to do whatever, go whatever – seems so foreign to so many of us today? Isn't because we've so diluted the gospel invitation?" more >>
As protests continue in Berkeley, California, reports of police action and possible offenses have come to light. One of those allegedly injured by police includes intern minister Cindy Pincus, who showed she had a split head after being hit by a police baton.
"The police began walking forward and in 2-3 seconds were pressed up against us with their batons held parallel between them and us," Pincus told the Berkeley Side. "I shouted, 'Be calm, be calm, we're peaceful!' And they kept walking forward. I looked to the left and a police officer had begun jabbing a protestor with the end of his baton. I turned around to retreat and passed a woman who had fallen and was being trampled. I bent down to pick her up under one armpit while another woman grabbed her other arm."
"As we were lifting her backwards I saw an officer raise his baton over my shoulder and was struck on the back of the head as I was bent forward. My vision momentarily blacked out and I saw stars. I put my hand to the back of my head and started running. I felt a welt rise immediately and blood ran down my neck and covered my hand," Pincus added. more >>
As racial tension nationwide intensifies, triggered by the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and compounded by the case of Eric Garner in New York City, the issue of whether racial justice should be promoted as a "Gospel demand" among Christians has become a divisive topic for some Evangelicals seeking solutions to racial conflict.
Southern Baptist pastor Randy White of First Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, says the pursuit of racial justice is not a "Gospel demand," disagreeing with fellow Southern Baptist leader Matthew Hall who penned a blog post last week stating that seeking racial justice is indeed a Gospel demand.
"Ferguson, Missouri, has erupted in barbaric violence that should cause all law-abiding citizens to demand the restoration of the rule-of-law, but the Evangelical world is preaching kum-ba-ya sermons about race-relations. I've gotta say, I just don't get it," said White in an op-ed posted to his website last Wednesday. more >>
Rob Bell, the infamous pastor who once led Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and wrote several envelope pushing books, such as Love Wins, was recently asked if he still thought of himself as Evangelical after radically shifting his views on eternal hell and gay marriage in recent years.
"If we mean Jesus' message of God's revolutionary love for every person, and we can surrender and give our life to acts to loving kindness, then man, sign me up," Bell told Religion News Service, revealing how he feels about the Evangelical title he once embraced as a young pastor.
Bell also admitted to not wondering if he still fits into the same evangelical circles he once did. more >>