The polio disease was on the verge of eradication when Ibrahim Datti Ahmed, president of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria and a physician, suggested at about this time in 2003 that the vaccination program in his country was part of a Western conspiracy to render Muslim children infertile. His call for an end to the polio immunization campaign touched a nerve and spread to other Muslim religious leaders in Nigeria, causing the vaccination process to slow down and incidences of the disease to pick up.
From Nigeria, this dual phenomenon of conspiracy theory and re-appearance of the disease then expanded to Muslims internationally. (For an outline of its progress over the past ten years, see my long weblog entry.) So closely connected have Islam and polio become that the Muslim-only pilgrimage to Mecca became a major mechanism of transmitting the disease to faraway places like Indonesia.
By now, Ahmed's paranoia has sent the new wave of polio from Nigeria to Muslim populations in at least 17 other African countries and 6 Asian countries: more >>
An 82-year-old veteran who seeks to "help the least of our brothers" by offering free haircuts to the homeless in Hartford, Conn., has been granted special permission by the city's mayor to continue his charitable work in the small east coast town after being temporarily banned last week.
Anthony Cymerys of Windsor, Conn., has been offering free haircuts in exchange for hugs in Bushnell Park every Wednesday for the past 25 years, until last Wednesday, when city health officials and police told him to close up shop due to reported concerns of "safety and sanitation" from local residents, according to The Associated Press.
Additionally, some anonymous residents reportedly complained because Cymerys did not have a barber's license, and many weeks his friends would join him at the park to help hand food out to the needy, which some argued was unsanitary. more >>
Christian human rights organization International Justice Mission has helped free 273 forced laborers in the nation of India this week in what is the second-largest anti-slavery operation that IJM has been involved in.
Working with local authorities, International Justice Mission was able to successfully remove slave laborers from two brick factories located in Chennai on Tuesday.
Saju Mathew, IJM director of Operations for South Asia, told The Christian Post about the history of the group's efforts regarding human trafficking. "IJM has been working with local authorities to fight human trafficking in South Asia since the organization was established in 1997, with IJM's first field office dedicated to combat labor trafficking opening in 2001," said Mathew. more >>
Willow Creek Community Church, founded nearly 40 years ago by Senior Pastor Bill Hybels as an "Acts 2 church," has opened the doors of its new 60,000 square-foot, $10 million Care Center in South Barrington, Ill., to provide thousands of local families continued access to a grocery store-styled food pantry, car repair and donation services, dental and optometry clinics, legal assistance and a whole lot more.
The Care Center, launched on June 3 after 10 years of planning, has been called "a Christian Walmart for the poor" by one publication due to its approach and layout, which resembles more of a high-end shopping mall than a thrift shop or traditional food pantry, according to The Chicago Tribune.
While Willow Creek typically identifies Acts 2:42-47 as its key biblical inspiration, the newly-expanded Care Center points to verse 45 as the foundation for its vision: "They (a community that believed in Jesus as Lord and Messiah) sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need." more >>
A new social movement is needed in the Church in America that reconciles Billy Graham's message with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez argues in his new book, The Lamb's Agenda: Why Jesus is Calling You to a Life of Righteousness and Justice.
Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference and a senior editorial advisor for The Christian Post, uses Graham and King to symbolize two dimensions of the Christian mission. Like the cross, there is the vertical dimension that looks to God and is concerned with personal righteousness and the horizontal dimension that looks to others and is concerned with justice.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Rodriguez talked about how this movement became his life's mission and the proper role of Christians in the political sphere. more >>
A Catholic Archdiocese located in Illinois has launched a charity aimed at raising $350 million to fund its education programs, reportedly the largest charity drive any American diocese has attempted.
Francis Cardinal George, head of The Archdiocese of Chicago, announced the effort at St. Stanislaus Kostka School on at a press conference Wednesday.
"The Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago and our faith formation programs make their case in the lives of those transformed by them," said Cardinal George in a message posted online. more >>