GRAND RAPIDS – "God's Not Dead" writers take on the controversial topic of religious liberty again in the upcoming movie "Do You Believe?" because they want Christians to know that they are in the middle of a culture war.
Pure Flix Entertainment writer Cary Solomon said he and fellow writer Chuck Konzelman decided to feature a religious speech lawsuit in "Do You Believe?" because Christians have been in the shadows for far too long.
"When we did 'God's Not Dead' and if you look at that and you look at this and anything else we do, I'm tired, I'm sure Christians are tired. I'm just tired of [how] we are always put in the shadows, we are persecuted down. In other words, we are put in these positions where we're not allowed to speak, we're not allowed to do this, we're not allowed to do that and ... we just felt that it's time to fire the shot heard round the world," said Solomon. more >>
Just a few months ago, I visited Tiananmen Square. It is a place where, 25 years ago, a lone protestor stood in front of a tank—an image that captured the imagination of the world—to protest the suppression of freedom in China. It was a powerful illustration of the power of social movements. In January 2014, I stood in Tahir Square in Cairo on the eve of Egyptians voting on a new constitution. Only months earlier, 20 million Egyptians rallied to take back their country from the Muslim Brotherhood. The history of social movements, whether sparked by the courageous actions of one person or the mass movement of a large group of people, is a history not to be forgotten.
But when the eyes of the world stop watching, too often the injustice remains.
Today we cannot overlook the fact that approximately 100 million Christians still live under oppression and persecution for expressing their faith in Jesus. Christians living under oppressive regimes cannot walk down the road holding a Bible, read it in freedom, choose for themselves the faith they wish to follow, or express their faith in an open marketplace of ideas without fear of persecution or death. In places like North Korea, ranked highest on Open Doors' World Watch List of countries that persecute Christians, is where more than 70,000 Christians live and work in labor camps for the crime of trying to practice their faith. Or in places like Iraq and Syria, where Jihadist rebels from the Islamic State have pushed Christ-followers from their homes, tried to force conversion to Islam, and tortured and killed people for their faith. more >>
The primates of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church have urged Christians around the world to remember and reflect on the 1915 genocide of Armenians and Syriac Christians in Turkey, where up to 2 million people were killed or disappeared without a trace.
"We invite the entire Christian world to unite in prayer at the Armenian Genocide and the Syriac Sayfo centennial commemorative events in 2015. We call upon the civilized world to recognize and condemn the crimes committed against the Armenian and Syriac peoples as well as other Christian communities," read the joint statement by the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, Karekin II, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, as reported by Fides News Agency on Wednesday.
The 1915 genocide during World War I in the territory of Ottoman Turkey is also known as the Armenian genocide, since Armenians made up close to 1.5 million of the victims. The attacks on Christians eliminated almost the entire Christian population in present day Turkey, leaving almost an entirely Muslim nation. more >>
Approximately 50 people, including several members of clergy, were arrested in Ferguson, Missouri as part of a "weekend of resistance" against police brutality in the town.
One of those arrested was activist, author, and professor Cornel West, who teaches Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. West is known for his activism and was proud to be arrested in Ferguson.
"It's a beautiful thing to see people on fire for justice, but I didn't come here to give a speech; I came here to go to jail," West said at a rally on Saturday night. "The larger system has been victimizing and coming at them [black youth]. Thank God the awakening is setting in, and any time the awakening sets in it gets a little messy." more >>
A Chinese pastor, one of several in recent months to be arrested in a massive government crackdown on Christians, said that he is "grateful" to God for giving him the opportunity to go to jail. Forty-year-old Huang Yizi is facing up to seven years in prison for speaking out against the government's demolitions of churches.
Huang was placed under arrest in August, The Telegraph reported on Monday, and was taken from his home in front of his wife and two children. He was charged with "gathering crowds to disturb social order."
A similar charge has been used to arrest other pastors, including Zhang Shaojie, in the wake of Chinese government officials ordering the demolition of a number of churches. more >>
Margaret Nagle, a screenwriter who's worked on hit TV shows such as "Boardwalk Empire" and recently penned the screenplay for "The Good Lie," which details the lives of Christian Sudanese refugees, describes how she incorporated the characters' Christian faith in the film.
"It was organic [to the refugees]. I haven't been raised going to church but I write historical projects, a lot of true stories, and so, I felt, I'm just going to use their faith as they use their faith in the telling of the story," Nagle told The Christian Post, explaining how she included the Christian faith of the lead characters who are based on people that fled the Sudan.
"I love the way their faith generated a belief system for them and carried them through. It was sort of a love letter from me to their personal faith and how it opened them up and kept them strong," she said. more >>