Christian churches in Niger are facing a lack of resources and difficult conditions in rebuilding six months after the wave of angry Islamist attacks destroyed at least 70 houses of worship in revenge for Charlie Hebdo's drawings of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
"Since these incidents, it is as if life had stopped," said Rev. Jacques Kangindé, leader of the Baptist "Roundabout" church in Niamey. "The church has become a source of curiosity for passers-by and a hide-out for idlers. Unfortunately our current church finances don't allow us to begin the reconstruction."
A Gallup poll has found that Pope Francis' favorability rating in the U.S. has fallen significantly from last year, and now less than half of conservatives have a favorable opinion of him. Gallup suggested that the change is due to the pope's strong messages on human responsibility in climate change and his condemnation of the world's "idolatry of money."
"This decline may be attributable to the pope's denouncing of 'the idolatry of money' and attributing climate change partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income inequality — all issues that are at odds with many conservatives' beliefs," Gallup analyst Art Swift wrote on Wednesday, according to Religion News Service.
Among all Americans who responded to the survey, most, or 59 percent, still held a favorable view of the pontiff, with 16 percent holding an unfavorable view, and 25 present stating they have no opinion. The level of support is down from the last poll from February 2014, however, where Francis enjoyed 76 percent favorable ratings. more >>
Republican Senator from Kentucky, presidential candidate and noted state's rights proponent Rand Paul expressed support for the federal government playing a role in restoring voting rights for former felons.
Senator Paul, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2016 president election, told a bipartisan group of justice system advocates Wednesday morning about a bill he supports to help restore voting rights to ex-felons.
"Now some have objected to this and said 'well states control voting rights.' It's a little bit complicated actually. The [Supreme Court] has looked at this question," said Paul. more >>
A coalition of Christian leaders devoted to helping end poverty has released a series of videos featuring six 2016 presidential candidates. Each candidate explained the approach that he or she would take to solve poverty and hunger issues in the United States and across the globe if they were elected president.
As over 45 million Americans are living below the poverty level, The Circle of Protection, a coalition representing a diverse group of over 65 Christian leaders and organizations headed by Bread For The World, Sojourners and the National Association of Evangelicals, challenged each presidential candidate on the day they announced their candidacy to provide a video explaining their plans to end poverty.
"This is for us a deeply moral issue and first of all, it is a biblical issue," Sojourners founder Jim Wallis said during a Tuesday press call. "What our scripture tells us is that a nation's integrity, its righteousness is most determined by how it treats its poorest and most vulnerable, and leaders in particular are asked by the prophets to treat the needy with highest priority, not the last in line but the first." more >>
A Hindu nationalist organization has converted 39 people from Dalit Christian families to Hinduism in a controversial ceremony aimed at making them eligible for a government benefits program.
"We are moving ahead with our initiative and more families from other religions will be reconverted to Hinduism soon. We are being approached by many people who want to come back to their original faith," said Viswha Hindu Parishad Alappuzha District Chief Prathap G Padickal, according to the Times of India.
The "ghar wapsi" programme in Kerala's Alappuzha district previously oversaw another 30 Dalit Christians convert to Hinduism in December 2014. more >>
For four hours on Sunday, April Lee Yates, 51, feasted at the popular Bennett's Calabash Seafood Buffet Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but when it was time to pay her bill she said "Jesus" would pick up the tab.
Management personnel at the restaurant, where you can have all the crab legs you can eat, called local police to the scene at about 9:15 p.m. Sunday to report Yates' refusal to pay her bill, according to wmbfnews.
The police report indicated that while Yates was at the restaurant, she caused a disturbance which affected other patrons and forced management to instruct her to pay her bill and leave. more >>